Making Christmas Dinner Easy

30 Nov 2019

Last year everyone told me not to worry about Christmas dinner, after all, I had a newborn and was still recovering from my planned caesarean the month before. Although I was tempted to let someone else take the reins, I do enjoy cooking and love making Christmas dinner a big festive celebration with all the trimmings, too. I did, however, do things a little differently, and as a result, I picked up a few tricks in getting Christmas dinner done in a much easier, and also a little more cost-effective way.

Tips on how to make Christmas dinner easier

Mostly, we shop at Tesco, but we often shop at Morrisons for little bits too and have loyalty cards for both. As we shop at Morrisons less often, we don't receive as many vouchers for Morrisons, around £30 at most throughout the year, but the vouchers we do get, I put aside ready to use for our Christmas food shop order (more on that later!). Tesco, on the other hand, is somewhere we get a good amount of vouchers from and I usually have around £80-100 in Tesco vouchers by the time Christmas comes around.

This means that I don't have to worry about our food shopping budget in December; I always spend more in December, particularly closer to Christmas week, as I am often cooking for more people, treat us to more seasonal treat food and like to make sure we're stocked up on all the Christmas snacks and drinks for visitors, last-minute Christmas gifts in the form of boxes of biscuits or chocolates, or nights when we just want to crash out in front of a cheesy Christmas movie and eat Christmas food.

If you do your weekly food shop online, you may already know that supermarkets like to put their Christmas delivery dates out quite early, especially as they book up fast. If you don't order your food shop online, it's worth making an account with your chosen supermarket so that you can reserve a slot, just in case you need it - you may even find it makes the run-up to Christmas easier, as you have the option there to have your Christmas food shop delivered.

When Tesco release their Christmas delivery slots I pick my date and time, pop a couple of things in my basket and check out; it's not the food shop I'll get delivered on the day (and no payment is taken, as payments are only deducted from your bank when your order has been delivered), but it means that slot is mine and sorted ready for me to make changes closer to the time, popping all the things we do need into my basket before saving the changes ready for delivery. No worrying about getting those last little bits from the shop on time and no panicking when you see all the delivery slots booked and taken if you already have yours sorted!

I like to sit down at least a month in advance armed with my laptop, cookbooks, Christmas magazines and a pen and paper and get everything properly written down. Any Christmas meals we're doing throughout December for friends and family, our food plans for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day food from breakfast right through to Christmas dinner and each individual course, as well as Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Knowing exactly what I will be cooking, each individual ingredient that we need and when we need it for makes a huge difference for me. It means I can enjoy our festive meals with those we love, without worrying about what to cook and if we have the right ingredients in.

Before 2018, I had always done Christmas dinner from scratch. I think it's fair to say a lot of people really take pride in doing Christmas dinner, as for many, it can be the biggest 'occasion' family meal of the year. Except, last year, I had a newborn, and I didn't want to spend my entire day in the kitchen, so instead I took a risk and did a Morrisons 'food to order' shop, with our entire Christmas Day meal from starter to dessert, ready prepped.

It was a risk worth taking and everything was delicious, it took a lot of stress out of the day and we had very little to do ourselves. We set reminders on Alexa for each stage of the cooking process and even better, dinner was on time, for the first time ever! I can't wait to do the same again this year and enjoy a stress-free Christmas dinner!

If there's one thing that will definitely make sure your Christmas dinner is stress-free, it's getting your timings right. I like to stick a piece of paper on the fridge with the timings for each individual component of the meal, with the time they should go in the oven, the time they should be turned over if need be, and the time they need to come out of the oven. I then also set reminders on Alexa, but if you don't have an Alexa, you can easily manage by writing the times down or setting alarms on your phone.

Last year was the first year I wrote down all the timings individually like that, and it was the first time Christmas day dinner went without a hitch!

I can't wait to tuck into all our festive meals again this year, what will you be having for Christmas dinner?

Whilst we celebrate the festive season, please consider donating to your local food banks for those who will go without or with very little this Christmas. You can find out more about what to donate with my Reverse Advent Calendar feature.