How to plan the perfect lunch for Christmas Day

Christmas can be a stressful time of year – and that’s without the added problems of the current situation! Cooking for more people than usual, cooking recipes you’re not used to and accommodating everyone’s personal tastes can all take it out of you, sapping your feelings of goodwill to all men by about 10am. Making yourself a timetable for Christmas Day may seem a bit over the top, but it can really help to stop you getting stressed. Our other main tip is to do as much as possible beforehand. Here are our suggestions:

Food such as Christmas cookies can often be made a day or so in advance then stored in an airtight container. It may be better to decorate them at the last minute though! Check your recipe for guidance. Photo by NickPe/Pixabay

A few days before the big day, you can parboil and prep the roast potatoes before freezing them. Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces then boil them in a pan of salted water until just soft (not soggy) – probably around seven minutes. Drain the water from the pan, put the lid on and shake the pan fairly violently to bash the potatoes around. This roughs up the surfaces and makes them absorb the fat better so they’ll be crispier. Let them cool and arrange them on trays lined with clingfilm or baking paper. Put them in the freezer uncovered. Once they’re frozen solid, you can put them in bags or tubs.

On the day, add two tablespoons of goose fat or sunflower oil to a baking tray. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and pop the tray in for a few minutes until the fat is hot and smoking. Carefully tip in the potatoes (still frozen) and stir them round until they have a good coating of fat. Then, cook them for half an hour before turning the oven up to 200 degrees for another half an hour.

While sprouts can be peeled and trimmed in advance, they’re better cooked at the last minute as they can lose some of their bright colour otherwise and look less appealing. Photo by ulleo/Pixabay

You can also make stuffing in advance and freeze it. Allow several hours for it to defrost at room temperature before cooking.

Cranberry sauce can be made a few days in advance – spoon it into sterilised jars and keep it in the fridge until needed.

Some types of cake (for example, most sponge cakes) can be made in advance and frozen then decorated at the last minute. Photo by platinumportfolio/Pixabay.

If you have any guests who are eating anything other than the ‘main attraction’, then try and keep their meals simple. Ideally, choose something that can be made and frozen in advance so that you’re not trying to prep too much on the day.

For vegetarians, we like these festive squash and chestnut crackers from BBC Good Food which can be made in advance, frozen and cooked from frozen. There are also tips on how to make this dish vegan. These mini nut roasts with candied carrots are also vegan, but do have to be defrosted overnight in the fridge before cooking so you’ll need to make sure there’s room!

This gluten-free Christmas pudding can also be made in advance.

Alternative puds like tiramisu can normally be made the day before, and can even taste better for it! Photo by jasongillman/Pixabay

If you have space in the fridge, all the traditional veg such as carrots and sprouts can be peeled and prepped on Christmas Eve. Once done, put them in an airtight box with a little water and put them in the fridge. You can also cook the carrots on Christmas Eve, if you prefer – just reheat them in a pan just before you need them and add a little butter before serving.

If you do decide to go with a timetable, plan in a few breaks as well! Ten minutes with a cuppa can make all the difference between you enjoying Christmas dinner and resenting it. Bon appetit.

Main image:  Sabrina_Ripke_Fotograie/Pixabay

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