Fabulous freeze-ahead foods

Make life easier with these prep-ahead Christmas dishes.

No-one needs extra stress at Christmas, so make your big day as hassle-free as possible by creating these dishes ahead of time. Simply stock up your fridge or freezer and you’ll be ready to go.

Cranberry sauce
For a classic cranberry sauce that can be made ahead and frozen, mix 175g of caster sugar with the zest and juice of one orange and 100ml of port in pan. Simmer over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add 450g cranberries and simmer again for 8-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the cranberries are soft. Allow to cool before freezing.

Yorkshire puddings
Yorkshire pudding batter can be made and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or you can cook and then freeze your puddings. Heat your oven to 220°C and drizzle oil into each hole of your pudding tin, before placing in the oven to warm up. Make the batter by mixing two eggs and two egg whites with 200ml milk, then slowly whisk it into 140g of plain flour. Make sure the oil in your pan is sizzling before adding the batter, then place in for oven for around 20 minutes until the puddings are puffed and golden. Cool and freeze for up to one month.

Braised red cabbage
The deep colour of a braised red cabbage side dish is gloriously Christmassy and it can be frozen for up to three months. Finely slice your cabbage and an onion and stir fry for a few minutes in butter or oil. Add three tbsp brown sugar, three peeled, cored and sliced apples and 100ml red wine vinegar. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 30 minutes. Stir in two tsp cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly and cook for a further 10 minutes before cooling and freezing.

Mince pies
Mince pies are the perfect go-to for last minute guests or when you’re feeling peckish! Make these and then freeze in their trays before cooking. You can then quickly grab a tray from the freezer and bake in less than 20 minutes for a piping hot, festive treat. Grease a bun tin and cut out round of shortcrust pastry big enough to line the bottom. Add a spoonful of mincemeat to each and then add a pastry lid. Poke a hot into the top of each one to allow steam to escape. Wrap the whole tin with clingfilm and place into the freezer until you’re ready to use.

Sprout gratin
If you want to sneak some sprouts into reluctant veg eaters, then hiding them in this cheesy concoction could be a winner. It will keep for a day or two in the fridge. Par-boil your sprouts for around three minutes, then drain and set aside. Slice and fry shallots in butter over a low heat until soft, stir in 50g plain flour and cook for two minutes before removing from the heat and whisking in 750ml milk. Once you have a smooth sauce, return to the heat and simmer while whisking continuously. Add 100ml double cream, 150g cheese and mustard if you like, to taste. Tip the sprouts into a baking dish and pour over the sauce, top with breadcrumbs mixed with chopped nuts then pop into the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, bake at 220°C for about 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

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