On the topic of getting prepared for Christmas, now is also the time to start buying your food. Things such as sprouts can easily be prepared ahead of time and are much cheaper in the months leading up to Christmas, than they are through the month of December. I find something extremely satisfying in sitting in front of the TV with a saucepan on my lap, and a glass of wine at hand, peeling sprouts.
I don’t even notice the time they take when I’m watching something like Corrie, and before you know it, you have prepared them. As long as you blanch for around 8 minutes and then open freeze before bagging, they will be great to get out of the freezer on Christmas morning.
You can do the same with any other veg you usually have on your Christmas dinner, meaning that you can enjoy the big day as much as the rest of the family, without running yourself ragged. I also buy my sausages to make my stuffing in advance and have tried various options in the past, including sausage meat and butcher’s sausages which I skin before using. A useful tip you might find here is to simply run your sausages under the cold tap before snipping the skin with a sharp knife and you will find that they come off easily.
I use a pack of budget sage and onion stuffing to make mine and find that if you add an extra chopped onion and a little more sage, along with your sausage meat, you get a delicious stuffing every time. Don’t go for the luxury brands from supermarkets, just adapt what you have available, maybe adding some finely chopped smoked bacon to the mix for an added flavour punch. Freeze in tin-foil containers, (pennies from the likes of B&M, or use left-over Chinese containers if you have any!) This also saves on washing up on the day as you can chuck them in the bin afterwards, rather than having to scrub at the delicious crunchy bits around the edges. You don’t need to tell anyone you’ve actually used a budget mix, simply tap your nose when they ask what’s in it and leave it to their imagination!
One of our family favourites on Christmas day is a trifle as none of us actually like Christmas pud, but it can be a little time-consuming to make if you want to use home-made sponge in the base. So what I now do is to make a plain sponge now and freeze it. You can use a packet mix if you want to, but if you usually bake cakes anyway, just make an extra mix up the next time you have the oven on and cook it then. Double wrap in tinfoil and it will be fine to get out Christmas Eve morning to prepare your trifle later on that night. One of our favourite flavour combinations is to use an orange jelly with a tin of mandarins dropped in, and top with chocolate flavoured custard, before finally topping with Elmlea on the big day. (Much cheaper than cream and usually has a good use by date.)
I hope that this has given you a few ideas to get you ahead of the game this Christmas.