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15 CHRISTMAS FOOD PLANNING TIPS TO MAKE MEALS EASIER THIS SEASON

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON September 22, 2021

& FILED IN Christmas, Entertaining & Guests


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Eating at Christmas is a full time job! These Christmas food planning tips will make it easy to know what to get, when, for whom, and to what budget. Enjoy!

15 Christmas Food Planning tips to help this festive season

Some of my strongest memories of Christmas growing up involve food.

From the Turkey and all the trimmings, to the dancing flames on top of the Christmas pudding – right through to the variety of small bowls of delicious treats my Mum used to put out on every surface! (I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many nuts and chocolates!!!).

Yes, Christmas brings with it a LARGE amount of food, drink, and entertaining – it’s inevitable!

It therefore makes sense to do a little planning up front to ensure all things food-related go as smoothly as possible. That’s where this list of fantastic Christmas food tips and ideas comes into play,

Get things sorted out up front and you’ll save lots of time and hassle in the long run. I’ve covered all sorts of things in this list of tips – so I’m sure there will be something new to try this year that will help you out.

And of course – I hope all your food prep, cooking – and eating! – goes well this festive season…

CHRISTMAS FOOD PLANNING TIPS TO TRY

TIP 1 – Plan meals ahead of time

It’s all very good getting lots of lovely food in – but do you know exactly what meals you will need to provide for?

If not, you may be buying things that are wasted, or not buying enough.

It’s worth taking some time up front with a calendar in hand to see exactly what meals you’re catering, and for whom.

An important Christmas planning tip here is definitely don’t forget to include normal family meals as well as entertaining – as these will be just as needed, of course! – but can easily be forgotten in the excitement!

If you plan your meals out this way, you can start to write a shopping list and see what non perishable items could be bought earlier.

This will save some time in the Christmas busy period in the supermarket (as If you’re anything like me you’ll want to be in and out at that time as quickly as possible!)

{ Worth looking at: The Christmas Planner has all the printable sheets you need for shopping lists and meal planning – take a look HERE if you want a helping hand }

TIP #2 – ASK PEOPLE TO HELP

If you’re having people over for a meal, hosting a party, or any other entertaining – then consider asking people to help out with some of the food.

At this time of year especially, everyone is more than happy to get involved – so you can lessen your workload by getting people to bring something like a pudding, drinks, a starter, nibbles etc… Planned carefully – you may not need to cater for more than one course – perfect!

TIP #3 – CONSIDER A BUFFET RATHER THAN A SIT DOWN MEAL

Buffet style food is perfect for this time of year – and people are more than happy to grab what they want. It is also perfect for Christmas when there are lots of people inevitably coming over.

This enables you to use some leftovers, and to ask people to bring some plates of food as well. Perfect!

TIP #4 – THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Fun fact – as a family we eat beans on toast on Christmas Day for lunch.

My parents live a couple of hours away and they visit us from Boxing day for a few days – so a few years ago we changed things up and decided to cook our Christmas Dinner on Boxing Day with them instead.

It works a treat!

When I was little, my parents hosted the 2 sets of grandparents on Christmas Eve so they saw us hang our stockings for Santa. They decided to cook Christmas Dinner that night so they could have Christmas Day off and we ate leftovers then instead.

Again – worked a treat!

The moral of the story is to do what works for you – think outside the norm if you want, because there isn’t a right or wrong way of doing things.

This not only works for the timings of meals, but also the meal itself….

If you eat turkey on Christmas Day but actually don’t really like it – why not try something new instead?

I hereby give you permission to enjoy what you eat rather than feel you HAVE to have certain things.

Create your own traditions and enjoy things more. This also works well if you don’t like (or can’t) cook something very well.

Why stress yourself out?

Christmas Quote

TIP #5 – CHECK FOR ALLERGIES

If you have any guests for food at all then always ask ahead of time whether they have allergies or intolerances (or even just dislikes) at all.

This will help you to cater properly, and not get stressed nearer the time with what to cook. You can also save time by finding things that everyone can eat so you don’t end up cooking more than one meal.

TIP #6 – CROWNS WORK JUST AS WELL AS WHOLE TURKEYS

I have always hated cooking chickens or turkeys – there’s something about them that I don’t like, and I’m always worried about under and/or over cooking every time.

After a few Christmas’, I realised that there was an easier way – and I always now cook a turkey crown roast rather than a whole turkey.

It’s easier, quicker, and there’s more meat to have over the following days.

We still have turkey – but it’s on my own terms – and I’ve let things be easy. A nice bonus as well is that we have a lot less waste, because we all like the white meat (turkey breast) more anyway…

Aaaand relax!

Christmas tree iced on a cupcake

TIP #7 – DON’T GO OVERBOARD

Remember – Christmas really is only a few days – it’s over before you know it – but we all seem to stock up as if it’s the end of the world….

Planning your meals up front will help you to see where you can get by with leftovers for example. You don’t need to buy something new for every meal, and you don’t have to buy the whole supermarket ‘just in case’!

TIP #8 – DON’T GO AWAY FROM TRIED AND TESTED

Avoid extra stress when you have people over by only cooking things that you’ve cooked before.

Recipes that you know well will be your best friend during this time, as you can be safe(ish!) in the knowledge that they’ll turn out well.

I have a few favourite Christmas recipes in my Christmas Planner folder so that I can use them year after year – and having a section in your recipe book means you’ll always know where to go to grab what you need.

Now isn’t probably the time to learn a new culinary showstopper (unless you really want to, and you love doing it, of course!)

That way you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays that little bit more…

TIP #9 – PREP FOR CHRISTMAS DAY AHEAD OF TIME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

A lot of us hate to be away from the fun of Christmas Day when it comes to preparing the dinner. As such I would always advocate prepping ahead of time as much as you possible can.

After all – who wants to spend all of Christmas morning peeling veg?

There are recipes you can prepare ahead of time and just reheat before eating – such as these.

Or, Why not get the family helping peel and prep veg on Christmas Eve?

Lastly – (even better for time saving!) buy pre prepared food if you can afford to – it’s Christmas and you deserve a little time off!

TIP – You could make things like mashed potato, cranberry sauce, stuffing balls etc… way ahead of time in preparation as well, and just freeze ready to defrost and reheat on the day itself. Easy!

TIP #10 – DISPOSABLE FOIL TRAYS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND

This is a quick tip that I LOVE LOVE LOVE – and I hope you do too….

Simple – I stock up on disposable baking trays for Christmas because you can just cook in them, dish up the food, and then get rid of them.

No soaking trays, scrubbing, or washing up – it’s like a little present to yourself!

TIP #11 – MAKE IT A FAMILY EVENT

Can you get the family involved in the food and cooking?

Whether it be prep or actually getting older kids and partners to cook a whole meal – you don’t have to do it all yourself while everyone else has fun…

TIP #12 – WRITE A TIMELINE FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER

If you’re wondering how you can be more organised for Christmas Dinner itself (the big one!) then the best tip I can give you is to write yourself a timeline for the prep.

Starting from the end – i.e. the time you want to eat – you can work back and see exactly when things need to be cooked etc….

This is really important, because it will save you the guesswork and stress on the day itself.

There are lots of benefits to doing this – but the main one that I’ve found is that you can prevent needing the oven for too many things at once, or for too many different temperatures. For instance, some items can be cooked ahead of time instead and simply reheated in the microwave to save oven space.

Lastly – this can help you plan the rest of the day too – as it will give you a guide as to when you will be busy and when you will be free on the day. This means you know when is best to open gifts, and all the other things you will want to be present for.

TIP #13 – GET FAVOURITE FOOD FOR PEOPLE

If you know what each person in your family loves to eat – try and incorporate these into the Christmas menu at some point.

This is a lovely way to make everyone smile – and it gives them a treat!

It could be as easy as having a different pudding each night, or favourite snacks/treats dotted around the house (something my mum has always done at Christmas!)

TIP #14 – FOOD CAN BE A CRAFT!

If your kids love to make things, why not get them to make some of the food themselves over Christmas and in the run up?

Things like mince pies, cookies, decorating the cake etc… can all be made pretty easily – and will be all the more special for them having made them themselves…

TIP #15 – BUY RATHER THAN HOMEMADE

If you don’t like cooking, or haven’t got the time – don’t feel bad at all.

Let the supermarkets / Christmas fairs / local shops do the work instead! Get pre-prepared veg, ready stuffed turkey, ready made Christmas cake – ANYTHING that you don’t want to do.

In the end, people will be happy with whatever you serve them, and won’t probably notice (or care) who created it!

15 Christmas Food Planning tips to help this festive season

and that’s it! – lots of christmas food planning tips and ideas for inspiration this year…

I think the main takeaway to remember is that it needn’t be hard. You have the power to make gorgeous food, but in a way that makes it easier for you – so why not!

I hope it’s given you a few ideas – and don’t forget that you can grab these tips (and loads more) in a totally FREE tips eBook that I’ve created to make Christmas easier for you this year. Get yours HERE.

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