4 Ways to Enjoy Christmas Day By Prepping Your Dinner in Advance
Preparing Christmas dinner for the big day is a balancing act that can go one of two ways. Done right, and it's the highlight of the festive season; a slap-up meal to be devoured as much as it'll be savoured, or it's a recipe for disaster complete with overly dry turkey, water-logged sprouts and pigs in burnt blankets.
As they say, 'by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail', so a good deal of forward planning will not only take away some of the stress on the big day, it'll mean more time with family and friends while they open their presents and celebrate Christmas Day the way it should be.
Whether it's meat, veggies or your yuletide dessert that needs preparing in advance, here are some top storage tips and shopping hints to help you avoid making a meal of things on the 25th.
Knowing when to buy your food
Facing the Christmas crowds when buying festive fare for dinner can be a real test of your patience. Depending on your mettle, you can wait until those 11th-hour price drops where items across the board are reduced. A few days before the big day, prices tend to be slashed, and you can pick up some real bargains if you're looking to save a bit of money, especially after all those presents you've bought.
Supermarkets always overstock at this time of year, so before December 25, they begin to cut prices to get rid of excess food. They're obligated to ensure that all of their stock gets eaten, so dropping the price limits the amount of food that goes to waste.
If you don't want to push things too late, and avoid the crowds in the process, then perhaps buying a few months in advance and storing it for later is more in your lane. You might have a think about shopping online too. You can even bag yourself a bargain in the process; if you live in an area where supermarkets deliver, you can save a lot simply through first-time incentives to shop online that supermarkets often use.
Free up space in your freezer
Wherever and whenever you decide to shop, your yuletide haul needs somewhere to stay. If there's not enough space in your freezer then it could be enough to send a chill down your spine. Don't get caught out in the cold; be sure to defrost your freezer in advance, throw out anything you don't need that's taking up space and give it a bit of a spring clean. After that, you'll have plenty of space for your food, trimmings and all.
Sous vide is an excellent cooking method that can make a huge difference when it comes to preparation, as well as the end result itself. Take, for instance, the turkey. What should be the centrepiece of the meal, is usually something of a disappointment. Not only does it usually end up dry and over-cooked, there's always a surplus of it left over too.
Turkey cooked with the sous vide method remains moist and juicy. It might take longer, but there's no need to baste or leave the meat to rest, just place the bird in the container at the right temperature and cook for around eight hours.
Vegetables like potatoes, sprouts and carrots can all be cooked in advance with this method. Cook at 85-90°C for one hour and they'll be done – just remember to refresh the vegetables in iced water upon removal. This will stop the cooking process before reheating them later.
If you're doing everything well in advance, then you can use the sous-vide method in conjunction with vacuum sealing. This way, the main meal is just a case of reheating the components when the time is right. Hopefully, you'll have heeded the earlier step and emptied out your freezer to make room for the Christmas dinner.
Vacuum sealing keeps air and moisture out, so things will be just as fresh and delicious when you plate up everyone's meal. Plus, there are some little tricks you can do to make things even easier. Properly portioning out everything will not only help upon serving, but it'll also ensure nothing goes to waste. Don't forget to label everything for easy identification.
Other handy tips
Skip the starter
We're trying to cut down on the workload here and a fiddly starter is just going slow things down. Plus, you run the risk of filling up and leaving no room for the main event. Little canapes and finger food can wait until later.
Cook veg together
Rather than multiple pans boiling away, try cooking all your veg together. Chop your carrots, parsnips, red onions, potatoes and squash into similar-sized pieces. Add some oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes. Now you can vacuum seal everything for later, easy peasy.
For an extra indulgent treat come dessert time, beat 250g of softened unsalted butter, 15g of icing sugar and, yep, as much brandy as you like, and then roll into a log, freeze it, and defrost on Christmas Eve. No effort for a wonderfully decadent Christmas classic.
Don't forget, to help these recipes last a little longer they can all be stored using the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system to help you save money and reduce food waste. For more information about our innovative vacuum sealers, be sure to visit our homepage.