Do you spend hours in the kitchen making Christmas dinner while everyone else lounges around watching Christmas movies? When it goes right, Christmas dinner is one of the best meals of the year but it can be stressful for the person preparing it. We’ve put together our top tips to save time on Christmas dinner so you can enjoy spending time with the family AND have a tasty Christmas dinner too!
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Are you so stressed peeling and cooking vegetables, making gravy, checking on the meat, whipping cream and setting the table that by the time dinner is served you are too shattered to enjoy it? These Christmas dinner time-saving tips will really help you prepare for a fun family day that you can enjoy just as much as everyone else.
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Tips to Save Time on Christmas Dinner
#1. Be Prepared
Cook what you can in advance. From soups and sides to sauces and desserts, get as much done as possible in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Many can be frozen (e.g. soups, cranberry sauce, red cabbage, mince pies), while others can be made and prepared in the final few days.
You can peel and prepare your vegetables the night before, ready to be cooked the following day. Just store them in a large saucepan of cold salted water.
You could also set the table the night before. Get the kids to do this, they will enjoy putting out crackers, designing place cards and making the table look festive for the big day.
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#2. Fill the Freezer
Everything from gravy to bread sauce, stuffing to mince pies can be made well in advance and frozen. Just remember to remove them the night before and heat everything to the correct temperature on the day.
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#3. Order In
There are lots of great pre-prepared options available to buy from supermarkets, restaurants and local suppliers that will save you both preparation and cooking time. Even a few readymade sides or desserts will take the pressure off, but you could go all out and get your full dinner delivered for the ultimate time-saver!
Most importantly, don’t leave the food shopping (or ordering) to the last possible minute. Apart from the queues, you may find you have to fight for the last turkey, net of sprouts or tub of cream! Buy what you can in advance and have it delivered or ready to be picked up in-store.
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#4. Get Up Early
Ok, so any house with kids won’t need to worry about setting the alarm, but for those with teens and adults, get up early if you are cooking a big turkey or meat that needs a long time in the oven and get it on.
This has the added benefit of giving you time to rest the meat and frees up your oven for those crispy roast potatoes we all love so much! Crowding your oven slows down the cooking process, so this will also ensure you have enough space for everything to cook well.
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#5. Plan Your Menu
The pressure may be on to impress your guests (or the in-laws…) but, honestly, serving 10 types of veg or 6 different sauces will only result in disaster.
One of our most helpful tips to save time on Christmas dinner is to plan your menu realistically and only attempt what you are comfortable with – two or three side dishes done well will impress better than 10 charred, mushy or cold offerings!
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#6. Ask for Help
If it is your year to host everyone for Christmas dinner, you will be dealing with the prep, cooking and clean up, but also the extra cost. Ask your guests to bring something with them – play to their strengths and choose something they can deliver well (or buy easily!), and dinner will be on the table in no time.
#7. Serving Up
Warm the plates in advance and, if you have family over, get a member from each house to help with the serving up. That way you aren’t shouting over everyone to see who wants what veg or which bit of the turkey they want or if they want gravy or sauce!
As an alternative, you could serve veg in individual dishes, carve up the meat, put sauces in jugs and place everything on the table so everyone serves themselves and gets exactly what they want. This means there should also be less waste too.
#8. Spread the Meal Throughout the Day
Do you leave the table barely able to move? In the last few years we have spread the meal out over the day. So we start with soup and then have a break, before returning for a fish course or main course. Then another break before the cheese and dessert courses.
Everyone has time to digest their food between courses, kids aren’t bored sitting at the table waiting for adults to finish and we are all more relaxed. We have even been known to get out for a walk between courses and build back up our appetite!
#9. Washing Up
Assign this duty to those who have not helped in the preparations. However, if you wash as you go, it will free up space in the dishwasher or on the draining board and you’ll have plenty of space to serve up!
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