I have decided to pace myself this year by sorting out certain bits and pieces before the madness that descends during the final run-up to Christmas.
We started making chutneys, jams, marmalades, liqueurs, mincemeat and of course, the Christmas cakes back in October.
I am pleased to say that the cakes are maturing nicely and every Monday evening Paul and I bring them all up (we baked 15 small and 3 large) and pour a measure of brandy into the cake, we then carefully wrap them up again in clingfilm until the next Monday. As a guest pointed out to me at the weekend, they have been made with love and to share with our guests!
I already ordered the Turkey which arrived yesterday and went straight into the freezer, by buying it in advance I have saved myself 50% of the cost. I have also brought a large smoked ham with a similar discount. This I get from Donald Russell and would recommend all B&B hosts to look into using them for supplies, throughout the year.
Upon my usual visit to the supermarket this week I stocked up on six bottles of Champagne from Tesco, it was reduced from £14.00 to £9.00. Great for Champagne Cocktails or Kir Royales/Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning.
I have also bought a selection of mixers (Tesco are doing 2 boxes of 12 for £7.00) ginger ale, coke and tonic. I use these instead of the litre bottles as there is less waste.
I tend to go out and choose a special wine to serve on the 25th which I shall let you know about in my next blog. But I did buy 4 whites and 2 reds, for when friends and family drop in, again Tesco has proved to be the place to shop for alcohol this year!
So, my next plans for the next two weeks are:
- Make the sweet pastry for the mince pies (freeze until needed).
- Start the orange peel in chocolate sweets
- Roast a mix of nuts with spices
- AND make some chilli jam!
Personally, I switch between a speciality shop and supermarket bought cheeses, just depends on timing and costs.
My biggest time and stress saver is to vaguely plan out the different lunch and dinner meals for the 24th-27th, for instance, I choose a selection of big dishes like casseroles that (usually) cover a meal or two. As well as easy dishes like, steaks or jacket potatoes which are quick and easy meals to whip up quickly.
Preparing some frozen meals or sauces also relieves the pressure of having to cook hearty meals. As much as I love cooking, I don’t want to spend all my time in front of the stove at Christmas!
I hope a few of these tips above will make your Christmas shop/holiday less stressful – I will write more next week updating you where I am…… as I still have several cakes to marzipan and ice.