Stressed out about the thought of getting dinner cooked and everyone fed on Christmas Day? Don’t panic – these Christmas cooking tips for those final days and the day itself will help you feel more in control.
Cepta Mahon, founder of Cookalicious, recently went live on our Instagram with some delicious and easy Christmas recipes that look impressive, are quick to pull together, and are sure to become new family favourites. Now she’s back with her favourite Christmas cooking tips, designed to make life easier so you can enjoy your day and not spend it solely in the kitchen.
Cepta is a home chef and cookery tutor, hosting online classes, live cook-alongs and demos. She helps people cook ‘real’ food by showing them how to create food that is fuss-free, fabulous and healthy. With an ability to teach that is infectious and full of energy, Cepta loves nothing more than sharing her passion and giving others the confidence to cook great tasting food too.
Check out Cepta’s top Christmas cooking tips below!
Christmas Cooking Tips: Before the Big Day
A lot of the best Christmas cooking tips can actually be accomplished in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Day. From lists to making the most of your freezer, here are some of my favourites:
Love your lists – they will be your best friend in the run up to Christmas, as well as on the day itself when it comes to cooking your family’s feast.
Keep it Simple
Decide what you are cooking (and what you’re not!) and then stick to it. Don’t be swayed by ‘tradition’ to cook something your family doesn’t enjoy, change it up for something that you know will be eaten.
Don’t Buy Too Much
There can be pressure to over-buy for Christmas when, in reality, the shops are only closed for a short time. Too much food in your fridge will leave you in a panic over what to cook and when, as well as most likely contributing to wastage.
Check Your Kitchen Equipment
Remember to have a look through your equipment (pots, pans, ovenproof dishes, crockery, serving dishes, etc) to make sure you can accommodate everything you plan to cook and the number of guests you are expecting.
Keep Your Starters Light
A fresh soup like Pea & Mint or pre-cooked fish (smoked salmon/crab) always work well, especially when served with a simple dressed salad and not much more.
Alternatively, don’t do any starter and just have a simple grazing board with a couple of dips, cured meats, olives, crackers, etc that people can munch on during gift-giving or while they enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Pick Your Favourite Dessert
One of my favourite things about Christmas is that dessert can be show-stopping, classic or as simple as you like!
I serve a Gingerbread & Orange Tiramisu, but the kids would be just as happy to have ice-cream and toffee sauce (as would my other half!).
Cheat when you have to and when you want to – ditch any rituals that don’t serve you and don’t feel a single bit guilty about it.
I buy shop-bought custard every year…and it rocks!
Christmas Cooking Tips: Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is the ideal day to get as much prep done as possible. Make it a family affair and rope in some junior potato peelers so that all the jobs get done as quickly and as early as possible.
Prep Your Veg the Day Before
Peel your potatoes, carrots and prep your sprouts or other veggies the day before and leave them in a pot of cold salted water until you’re ready to cook them the following day.
If you have kids get them involved too. Christmas is all about teamwork, so make it tradition that everyone does their bit!
Choose to cook one or, at most, two types of potato! Really, is there any need to serve mashed potatoes and roast potatoes and potato gratin? No! Be kind to yourself.
Get Ahead with Your Stuffing
Your stuffing can be made the day or two before, or further in advance and frozen if you can.
Cook Your Ham
One of my top Christmas cooking tips is to cook the ham the day before. Who doesn’t love a ham sambo on Christmas Eve, plus it tastes way nicer just heated through on Christmas Day.
Side benefit is that if frees up a pot and hob space on Christmas Day.
Write Out Your Timings
On Christmas Eve, sit down with a cuppa and write out all your timings for Christmas Day cooking. What time does the turkey need to go on at? When do the potatoes need to go in?
Work backwards from when you plan to sit down to eat, and then make a note of how long everything takes and what time to heat the oven, change the temperature or put a pot of water on to boil. Stick your timings on the fridge and follow it from start to finish – planning is key!
This holiday season, let the kids get creative and have fun in the kitchen with these kid-friendly Christmas recipes that are super easy to make. From fruity snacks to chocolatey treats, we think that every child, big and small, will find something to love here.
Christmas Cooking Tips: On the Big Day
Yes, the bulk of the cooking will be done on the day itself, but following your timings will help to keep you on track and make sure nothing gets forgotten along the way.
Sharpen Your Knives
A sharp knife will make light work of carving, meaning that you can get everyone’s dinner dished up as easily and quickly as possible.
Let the Turkey Rest
Remember to rest your turkey for at least an hour – it’s a big bird and it won’t go cold! Plus, it frees up your oven for everything else.
Christmas is not all about the food – spend time with your kids, family and friends. Whether you stay in your PJs, snuggle up and watch movies, or pull on the boots and head out for a festive hike, be sure to laugh loads, make memories and get some much-needed down-time!