5 tips to take the stress out of Christmas

While it sounds obvious, a little bit of planning can go a long way in helping cut down any stress in your kitchen this Christmas. After all, this time of the year is about enjoying the company of family and friends and sharing those festive foods which make it so special.

1. Make a plan to clean out your fridge

It might not be at the top of your Christmas to-do list but taking some time to clean out and re-organise your fridge is a great place to start. You can throw away any foods past their “use-by” date and clean the shelves with hot, soapy water. Speaking of shelves, you can move these around so that your turkey will fit on the bottom shelf when you need to. You can also make extra room by storing things like vegetables and drinks (except fruit juices) somewhere cool and dry in your kitchen.

2. Plan what size turkey you need

To be honest, most of us have had enough turkey by December 27 and buying too big a bird might not fit your oven or leave you more turkey meat than you really need. So plan for how many people you’re cooking for – typically, a 3 - 4 kg turkey will feed 4 - 6 people. But if you have lots of kids (who eat less) or you want more turkey for leftovers, this could change. You can ask your butcher or supermarket meat counter for their advice too.

3. Plan some of your food prep in advance

friends preparing food in the kitchen

If you’ve ever cooked on Christmas Day, you know how busy your kitchen gets and how quickly the time passes. And before you know it, the turkey is ready but the veg isn’t! Ideally, Christmas Day should be about cooking, not chopping so you can prepare all these veg in advance:

  • Potatoes can be par-boiled for five minutes on Christmas Eve and then stored in your fridge overnight. You can then roast them in your hot oven on Christmas Day.
  • Carrots, parsnips and sprouts can be peeled the day before – with carrots and parsnips, you can keep them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge overnight. For sprouts, keep them in a suitable bag in your fridge overnight but not in water as they’ll lose their flavour.

And most importantly, it can take approx. 24 hours to defrost every 2 - 2.5kg of turkey so give yourself plenty of time to defrost a frozen turkey on the bottom shelf of your fridge, in a deep tray to catch any drips and spills.

4. Plan your Christmas cooking times

Getting everything ready on time can be a stressful time so plan on what time you want to eat at and work backwards from there. Find out the cooking times for your turkey and remember to add in the 30 minutes rest-time for your turkey when you take it out of the oven once it’s thoroughly cooked. Stuffed turkeys will also take longer to cook. Writing a little list of when the oven needs to be turned on and when things need to be put in is a great way to reduce the stress.

5. Plan what to do with your leftovers

After all your great Christmas cooking, you deserve a well-earned rest on the couch (and someone else to do the washing up). But one last important job is to get any leftovers in your fridge within two hours of cooking – you can help cool your turkey by cutting it into smaller pieces. And plan to have plenty of clingfilm and suitable containers so you can safely store your leftovers; you’ll also find christmas leftover tips here. Finally, remember to use those leftovers within three days from the fridge and reheat them only once, until piping hot throughout.

And that’s the plan for Christmas. Whatever way you celebrate it, we hope it’s a safe and tasty one!

Posted: 12/12/2018 15:25:47 by Dermot Moriarty
Filed under: Advice, Christmas, Cooking, Tips, Turkey

About Me

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Dermot Moriarty
Hi, I’m Dermot Moriarty and I’m the communications manager for safefood. My background is in advertising & public relations and I work on our awareness campaigns, promotional activities and market research. I’m also an occasional blogger. In my spare time, I’m a fan of history books, sport and cooking (though not all at the same time) and am trying to get back into running. I live in Co. Dublin with my wife and two young boys who are growing up way too fast.