All the Christmas goodies are starting to creep onto the supermarket shelves, so if you act now you can start to plan your shopping to spread the cost so that you don’t have a massive food bill in December. Aim to get all your non-perishables by the end of November – then all you have to buy in December are fresh foods with a short use-by date. I’ve compiled my tried and much-tested to-do list based on a traditional Christmas dinner, but if your meal is less traditional there are still ingredients that you can buy in advance.
Make a dedicated Christmas shopping list of everything that you’ll need and cross things off when you buy them so that you don’t end up buying them twice.
Start to make room now
Reorganise your food storage; tidy it up and use up any food that is near its use-by date. Blitz not only your shelves but also your fridge and freezer. Defrost your freezer and/or fridge-freezer if it’s not been done for a while. Keep any old bread in the freezer for breadcrumbs if you’re making bread sauce and stuffing (well worth the effort to make as they taste much, much nicer than made from a packet and they’re really easy to do). Bread is still fine to use when it has that dried whitish edge to it, it’s just freezer burn that is caused by water molecules leaving the food and doesn’t mean it’s bad or mouldy. Just trim it off if you don’t like the look of it, though you won’t see any difference if you turn it into breadcrumbs.
What to start buying from September
Jars of cranberry sauce and mincemeat
Any tinned foods and packet foods that you might use
Dry ingredients for baking
Dried fruit if you’re making a fruit cake
Alcohol for the festive period (keep it hidden and out of temptation’s reach! Attic, maybe? In a well-taped-up box?)
What to start buying from October
Meat for freezing
Frozen vegetables or fresh veg for freezing
What to start buying from November
Table crackers and paper napkins (though you might have got these last January when reduced in the sales!)
Nibbles – nuts, crisps, chocolates and snacks (ditto the advice above for alcohol – hide them)
Desserts that are suitable for freezing
End of Nov – perishables with a longish use-by date such as butter and eggs
December – ahh, nearly done
Once you’ve done that, all that will leave you with is a small shopping list of perishables to get a couple of days before the 25th. Check out the opening time on the 23rd or Christmas Eve, it’s often 7.30am now so get up early and you can get it all done before the crowds descend like an invading horde. You’ll then be leaving whilst dozens of cars are frantically looking for a space.