How to plan your Christmas Menus

If you’re hosting Christmas, meal planning can be one of the most stressful elements. Everyone has to be catered for. You’re probably cooking for more people than you normally cook for. Not only that, there’s so much pressure to make Christmas Dinner the most perfect ever. No wonder the Christmas menus cause you stress. Here’s how to plan your Christmas Menus so you take away a huge amount of the stress.

I’ve even created you a free printable. You can find it in the Resources Library. 

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Step 1: Plan the big meals

These are the main meals when you have guests. Christmas Dinner is obviously the ‘flagship’ meal, but you may well have guests staying between Christmas Eve and New Years Day. Map those meals in first.

You can find loads of ideas on Pinterest and the BBC Good Food website, but I’m getting lots of inspiration from my Facebook page. I’m asking my readers to share what they’re planning, and that’s giving me loads of ideas.

Obviously there are festive traditions, but think about leftovers and balance. I like to have a baked ham on Christmas Eve so that we have ham and turkey leftovers on Boxing Day. After a few days of roast dinners, you’ll want some balance, so you’ll want to plan in something a bit different.

Step 2: Plan the festive days

It’s really nice to have a special festive breakfast on Christmas Day. You may well want to have something special for New Year’s Day as well.

The other thing about festive days is that you quite often need to eat at different times to when you would usually eat. So you’ll want to work out – especially if you have young children whose food demands tend to be more immediate – when you’ll want to have some kind of supper or brunch rather than ‘normal’ meals.

Step 3: Plan the in-between days – with some flexibility

The lovely thing about the Christmas break is that most people are on holiday at some point over the weeks. So you can go for a meal out, or just eat leftovers, or have a lie-in until lunchtime – unless you have kids.

So when you’re planning for your meals over Christmas, give yourself some flexibility. Make meals that can be easily frozen, or that don’t have ingredients that must be used on the day of purchase. You may well want to avoid going to a supermarket at all, so in that case, you’ll want to stock up on frozen food and things with a long life.

Place setting with Christmas tree in background

Step 4: Think about your storage space

Christmas can put a lot of pressure on our fridges and freezers. Once you’ve got a turkey in the fridge, you won’t get a huge amount more in! So we have to be a bit creative with space.

You can definitely think about storing food outside, in a box, shed or garage, especially vegetables that you would normally put in the fridge. Condiments, jars and eggs can also be stored outside the fridge, especially if it’s just for a few days.

Repackage leftovers into boxes so that they can stack easily. Make sure they are clearly labelled – especially if you need them for another meal, or someone might just eat them.

Wine and beer can be chilled using iced water, or you can use frozen grapes to easily chill wine in the glass.

Step 5: Get your online shopping ordered

Hopefully, you’ve got your Christmas shop booked. Give yourself a good hour, and get all your ingredients ordered. Don’t forget the Christmas extras – crackers, napkins, extra wide tinfoil etc.

If you don’t want to do an online shop – or haven’t got it booked, go for an early morning or late evening. Some people love to go around 3pm on Christmas Eve so they can get the markdowns. I quite enjoy doing the Christmas food shop, although I can get a bit over-excited with the special offers.

If you’d like my printable download, head over to the Resources Library – you’ll need to put in the password – and download my Christmas Menu Planner.

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