We absolutely love Christmas, so we’re determined that the stress of cooking and preparing doesn’t get in the way of having a great time. Make-ahead cooking is a fantastic way to reduce time spent in the kitchen, and make your christmas budget easier to stick to!
Time to clean out
Make room for make-ahead meals by giving your refrigerator and freezer a good purge at the beginning of December. This is also a great way to take inventory of your kitchen so you can stock up on Christmas essentials early.
The golden rule: Freeze what can be frozen
- Have cooking and baking essentials ready for when you need them. Must-haves like butter and shortcrust pastry will keep happily in the freezer, so it pays to have a good supply at the ready.
- Make a double batch of freezer-friendly meals when you’re cooking later in November. These can be stored perfectly in the freezer and then defrosted overnight during the hectic festive season.
- Double-batch cooks include:
- Once the temperature drops, our slow cookers re-emerge from their hibernating places in the cupboard and make their way back to their triumphant spot on our kitchen counters. Not only are they perfect for making the most out of inexpensive, flavoursome cuts of meat, but they’re perfect for batch cooking and freezing. We especially love making a big batch of pulled pork!
- If you need some reminders on how to get the best results from your slow cooker, here’s the Easy Food ultimate guide.
Ready, set, cook!
Having some cooked, ready-to-mix foods in the fridge is a real time saver during busy weeknights. Poach a few chicken breasts on Sunday to have the meat as an easy add-in for pies, sandwiches and stir-fries, or roast a tray of vegetables and use them in quiches, salads and pastas.
- Keep your eyes peeled for specials at the butcher. When meat is on sale, it’s usually sold in large pieces. Buy these cuts and divide them into several smaller portions. Wrap them individually, then label and freeze for later use so that you have an oven-ready main course handy.
- Also be on the lookout for packaged smaller cuts of meat. Many supermarkets are beginning to sell small roasts, which are perfect for last-minute dinner guests. If your store offers only large roasts, you can ask the butcher to divide them into smaller portions for you.
Love your leftovers
- Freeze any leftover soup or stew in freezer containers with tight-fitting lids. Food expands when it freezes, so be sure to leave about 2cm of headspace below the rims of the containers.
- Another convenient way to freeze soups and broths is to use plastic ice-cube trays. Simply cool the soup or broth and pour it into the individual sections of an ice-cube tray. Freeze until the soup is firm, pop out the cubes of frozen soup, seal them in a freezer bag, and return to the freezer.
- When you’re ready to eat, reheat a few cubes for a single serving or more cubes for the entire family.