Confessions of a Christmas procrastinator

How prepared are you for the family feast? This year, 44 Foods’ Imogen Charnley is starting the Christmas planning on time… well, almost.

It’s the same every year – Christmas is approaching but I keep batting it away while I focus on matters more ‘pressing’…

Not this year. With the final four weeks now upon us, my food preparations begin this weekend. Instead of pining for our usual, extended festivities, I’m planning some memorable meals that I can adapt to feed the brood – whether that’s three households, a sociable six, or just our four greedy mouths.

Talking turkey
Now’s the time to decide what to put on for the main event. Whether you’re cooking up a turkey, a beef sirloin or a leg of lamb, with a Christmas bundle you can serve up a sumptuous roast with the trimmings and none of the hassle or waste that can come with a big shop.

Getting ahead
My new-found love of Christmas planning will stand me in good stead and I’ll get ahead with some shortcuts, like ready-to-cook pigs in blankets and pork, sage and cranberry stuffing.

My favourite bread sauce can also be made up to a month in advance without the butter and kept in the freezer. So I’ll add some extra bread and milk to this week’s food order.

It’s not just the day itself
With all the focus on the Christmas dinner, it’s easy to forget to cater for Christmas Eve and the long, leisurely days before New Year.

For the days between Christmas and New Year, I’m going to borrow from my father-in-law’s catering repertoire and cook up a ham in marmalade glaze. Depending on how many we’re hosting, any leftovers will make the perfect lunchtime sourdough toastie if they’re not devoured at night with crackers and chilli jam.

Stir it up and bake it
I admit it, I missed ‘Stir-up Sunday’ last weekend. Thankfully, 44 Foods has me covered with a traditional Christmas pudding and handmade all butter mince pies.

Nothing makes festive memories like a three-year-old wielding a rolling pin, so we’ll be fully stocked with home baking ingredients. That way we can jolly along any wet December weekends with a gingerbread house, cookie decorations, or pancakes and sticky buns for breakfast.

Don’t forget…
There comes a point on Christmas Eve when if you’ve forgotten anything else it’s just too bad. But I’m hoping to avoid past omissions by covering these bases…

  • Stock up on the citrus. Lemons for starters, stuffings and slices in drinks, and oranges to add that special Christmassy zest to… pretty much anything, and leafy clementines for the stockings
  • Starter as you mean to go on. I’m spoiled for choice by this selection of delicious shellfish for starter inspiration
  • Santa’s little helpers. With two young children, I can never put enough carrots on the table, so I’ll need to have a sufficient surplus to leave a couple out for the reindeer
  • Change up the cheese. Last year I forgot the cheese splurge and we ended up with cheddar on Christmas evening. This year I’ll redeem myself by creating the perfect Christmas cheeseboard.

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