Monday, 23 December 2013

Meal Planning Monday - the Christmas edition, with a few tips!

Meal Planning MondayThe big week is here. This is late, cos well, I can. I've been busy and I'm organised for the big day. If you're not already, I'll share some ideas that you can do right now. Oh, and by the way, if your turkey is in the freezer, GO AND GET IT OUT NOW. It's likely to need 48 hours to defrost in the fridge. (And do make sure you've defrosted it thoroughly before cooking it!)

So, this week is minimal cooking apart from the big day. We are also out on Boxing Day so I don't need to plan for then and the rest of the week is likely to be leftovers rehashed in various forms. On Christmas Eve, I never cook a full meal as I do other prep and so we're planning lunch out and snacks later. This year, it's likely to be Italian. And tonight, we had chicken kievs and oven chips for tea - very lovely but not haute cuisine.

So this doesn't leave you a lot to tell you but here goes.

Tomorrow - not cooking
Wednesday - seafood platter nibbles, followed by four bird roast, pigs in blankets, chestnut stuffing, roast potatoes, honey roast parsnips, broccoli, carrots, bread sauce and gravy followed by panettone pudding later (we don't do Christmas pud).
Thursday - out
Friday - Turkey chelsea buns
Saturday - Turkey hash
Sunday - who knows?

Anyway, a few tips if you are getting stressed about cooking Christmas dinner, or have never done it before. Even now, a little planning and prepping ahead will save you loads of time and make you feel organised.

1. Make a timeplan. Yes, I know it sounds a bit over-organised but Christmas dinner has so many different elements, that it's easy to forget things. I remember my mother nearly forgetting bread sauce a few times. She never actually forgot because I LOVE it. Anyway, start with a list of all elements and work out what time you want to sit down for dinner. Work back with the times that you need to do everything in order to achieve that time. Allow yourself a bit of extra time because things often take a bit longer. I do this all electronically as I then link to any recipes I'm using. It also means I can add things and rejig the timeplan without having to start again. I even view it on the day via my iPad! Having times helps me to remember to bob in to the kitchen to do little tasks and then there is just a bit more to do near the end. Don't forget to allow time for your bird to rest - this usually gives you time to turn up the oven to finish off potatoes and parsnips.

2. Prep what you can on Christmas Eve. I have already done potatoes (peeled and cut to size, parboiled, then frozen in open trays before putting in a bag ready to go into hot fat), gravy (this recipe is good if you have time) and stuffing and they are in the freezer but can be done day before if you like. I'm also planning to make cranberry sauce as it's easy peasy - cranberries, sugar and usually the juice of an orange or clementine - and get the veg I'm using peeled. In my case, that's just parsnips and carrots, and then I will pack into freezer bags to put in the fridge. Getting the prep out of the way just takes the pressure off a bit.

3. Make any starter as simple as possible. This year, we're just doing seafood stuff that we will graze on - there is no prep other than some filo prawns that need to be baked; I will just literally plate it and let people take what they want. All I have done in advance is buy everything and make some bread (but only because I like making bread). Soup can be a good option but it can be too filling. Don't feel obliged though - some people just like to get on with the main event and that's fine.

4. Delegate what can be done by someone else. Get the children to lay the table. It might not be perfect, but they'll do the legwork and you can correct it. In our house, husband does that with the kids. He opens the wine and he makes sure I have a drink! Don't get huffy if someone doesn't offer to help - ask!

5. Most people don't want pudding straight after the main course. Have a break and do it later. We've been known to have it for tea!

6. Finally, relax and don't worry about it. If you sit down to eat a bit late, or even a lot, so what? If you forget something, don't despair. As long as everyone has food and fun, it doesn't matter if you do forget something or it goes wrong. This is why I keep all my recipes simple as can be unless I'm making in advance - less chance of going wrong! But honestly, you will laugh about it in years to come and it really doesn't matter. Having a great Christmas does.

That's all from me. Click on the badge if you like but I just noticed that there isn't a new post over at Mrs M's place. Have a very Merry Christmas and I shall be back next week.
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