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It’s that time of year where we should all start getting ready for the gastrocide which is the holiday season. Excessive alcohol consumption, sweet treats, lots of warming comfort foods, in fact, now is the perfect month to start stocking up on your Christmas foods, and also emptying your freezer while you’re in the process. This can be done really easily, simply put the older stuff in the bottom drawers and the Christmas stuff in the upper drawers.

Now we know you will have to buy some essentials but try and keep this down as you are going to be making meals with the other stuff you’ve put into the bottom of the freezer. Firstly, plan meals ahead, stews, soups and warm sandwiches are great and cost effective, and you’ll be able to use pretty much any vegetables you like that are lurking in the deepest darkest corners of your fridge and freezer. In the case of the fridge, if you aren’t going to use it, throw it out. You may also want to defrost your freezer too.

When it comes to buying your meats in, it’s best to do it now, you don’t want to be THAT person who’s fighting over the last Turkey on Christmas Eve. Also, remember, cooked meats freeze well so if you do end up with half a butchers shop to cook, any leftovers can be stored in the freezer for a later date.

So depending on your extravagance this Christmas, you want to get your meats in early and store them in the freezer. If you don’t have room for the Turkey, some places will deliver right up to Christmas Eve. But get it ordered and paid for now, and you won’t find yourself struggling in December getting it all at once and maxing out the credit cards.

Normally people buy Turkey or Chicken, Ham, Pork and Beef. But it’s up to you what you make. Don’t worry if it seems far too much, I have some thrifty tricks. Also, if you plan to host a party over the holiday season get a lot of your essentials in now, such as extra bread to freeze, alcohol, soft drinks and other bits you may need. Don’t worry if it’s gone too soon, the supermarkets open again on boxing day.

Buying in advance will also allow you to plan ahead well in advance. Remember cooked meats can last upwards of 3 days in the fridge and be heated through on the day in the microwave or covered in foil in the oven.

As the run up to Christmas gets closer. Usually around the 22nd – 23rd December, start to get your fresh stuff in such as veg, bacon, eggs, cheese and biscuits, Desserts, Mince Pies, sauces and any essentials like tea, coffee and milk.

If you have a frozen turkey, allow it to defrost in the fridge for at least 2 days, or if fresh store it in the fridge for cooking on Christmas Day. On the 23rd you should also do a marathon roasting session cooking the Beef, Pork, and Ham. This can then be portioned off in to single servings for Christmas Dinner and kept in the fridge, The rest can then be kept on the bone, or sliced and bagged up and frozen for use at a later date (it makes cheap soups, sandwiches and stews for months to come!).

While you’re at it, you may also decide you want start preparing your starters, such as soup, or if you are doing something more fiddly like sea food cocktail start making a list with times so you have a clear idea of what you’re doing.

Preparing any salad the night before is a good idea, simply store in an air tight container with a little water in the bottom to prevent wilting.

If you bought par-baked, or bake at home goods, again, do these the night before and store in an airtight container. You’ve now done half of your prep.

You can also score and peel your sprouts, peel any other vegetables and also peel and par boil your potatoes for your roasted potatoes and mashed potatoes and store in the fridge completely submerged in water and covered. If doing pigs in blankets from scratch, you can also prep these the night before and store in the fridge to cook for the last 30 minutes while the turkey rests.

Lay the table the night before also to save you the hassle of doing it in the morning, and double check everything is in order.

On the big day, depending on what time you intend to eat, work out your timings for your turkey first and foremost, and the rest of your main should fall into place. The roasties and other potatoes for the mash will need bringing to the boil for 10 around ten minutes, and the roasties basting and putting in the oven for around 30 minutes (while the turkey is standing under tin foil) along with the pigs in blanket. All the other vegetables will need 10 – 20 minutes to boil, and the sprouts (if you like) sautéed in a little butter with smoked bacon cubes.

While all this is going on, you can have your starter prepped, served, eaten and cleared away, and then start preparing for the main course.

If steaming a Christmas pudding, set this to be doing just after everyone has eaten, this will allow you all time to digest what you’ve eaten and it takes a good hour to do.

During this time, you can also set up a cheese board and pop it in the fridge again for later on if anyone wants some nibbles.

Obviously, enjoy a glass of wine or 3 over the course of the day! But with a little organization you’ll find life is so much easier than trying to do everything on your own and all at once!

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