Are you cooking Christmas dinner this year? Does it have you panicking already? Are you waking in the middle of the night worried you may overcook your sprouts? Are you trembling at the thought that your turkey might not defrost in time? Have you had a bad Christmas Dinner experience in the past and don’t want a repeat? Don’t worry – help is at hand! Here is my guide to making cooking your Christmas Dinner easy peasy!
Make a plan
Write down everything you plan to make for your Christmas dinner. Don’t forget the turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and other vegetables. Don’t forget the sauces and trimmings: gravy, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, stuffing, sausages…And whatever you do – don’t forget the sprouts! Decide what time you want to have your Christmas dinner and work backwards to ensure everything will be cooked by then. Too much hassle? Don’t worry I’ve already made an Easy Peasy Christmas Dinner Time Plan, so you don’t have to!
Have a practice
Once you have a plan, have a practice. Either cook the whole dinner from start to finish, or if you don’t want to go to the effort of doing all of it, just practice the bits you are most worried about. A practice dinner will also help you test out your time plan to make sure it’s do-able and it will make you feel a whole lot less stressed about the big day!
Don’t do it alone! Even if your family/guests are not much use in the kitchen, you can always rope them in to do the easy bits…serve the drinks, chop the carrots, prep the sprouts, assemble the canapés, lay the table…there’s plenty others can do. And one job you can (and definitely should) delegate is the washing up!!
Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!
Do you really need 3 different meats, 5 different sauces and 17 different vegetables? As a nation we do seem to go a bit mad on Christmas Day and create a lot more work than we really need to for one meal that gets wolfed down in a matter of minutes. Work out what is really essential and forget about the rest. There is so much more to Christmas than a big, fancy meal no one can finish!
Cook for the number of people who are actually coming
I am as guilty of this one as the next person! How many of us have catered for a small army when actually there are only 6 people sitting round the table? Think carefully about how many people are actually coming and how much they will actually eat. As a good rule of thumb each adult will eat 500g turkey (less if it’s a crown or a breast joint) 250g roast potatoes and 250g of all the other vegetables combined. Children typically don’t eat much on Christmas day, being far too excited and having already stuffed themselves silly with chocolate.
There is so much that can be done a day or two ahead of time: stuffing can be prepared, sprouts can be peeled, carrots can be chopped, the gravy and other sauces can be made, you can even partially roast the potatoes and other vegetables and finish them off on the day. Doing as much as you can the day before will ensure your cooking the Christmas dinner is much less stressful.
You don’t have to make it all! These days absolutely everything can be bought ready-made or at least ready prepared – so pick and choose what is most important to you that you actually cook from scratch and the rest can be bought from the supermarket. I always make the turkey (though sometimes it’s duck), the roast potatoes and the veg from scratch but buy in the bread sauce, cranberry sauce and the Christmas pudding. I also make sure I always buy ready peeled sprouts and chantenay carrots – which can be cooked whole without any prep needed at all!
Don’t cook turkey
For many it’s the stress of cooking a turkey that causes the most angst. Why not do something different this year? Something you know you are good at making and will make for a great show stopping Christmas Lunch with a whole lot less stress. Maybe beef, lamb, duck or even a really good quality organic chicken (which will easily knock the socks off a cheap, badly-cooked turkey). If you have your heart on turkey, check out my 20 Simple Tips To Take The Stress Out Of Cooking Your Christmas Turkey.
Do something totally different
And while we’re at it, why not go for a whole different meal? If you still want the flavours of Christmas but less of the hassle, why not try my Easy Peasy Christmas Turkey Traybake or perhaps try something completely different like my Duck with Puy Lentils, Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes – delicious, utterly festive and very little hands on cooking time, plus it tastes amazing!!!
Make a really good shopping list
Avoid that awful feeling on Christmas Day when you realise you have forgotten something vital for the Christmas Dinner and ALL THE SHOPS ARE SHUT!!! Make yourself a really good shopping list with everything you could possibly need on it and that definitely won’t happen. Haven’t got the time to be making shopping lists? Don’t worry I’ve made one for you! Check out my Easy Peasy Christmas Dinner Shopping List.
Have I forgotten anything? What would be your top tip for making things easier on Christmas Day?