I’m a planner. I write lists, I schedule tasks and I stick to a plan. I hate “playing things by ear” and seeing how I feel in the moment. I know how I’m going to feel ‘in the moment’: angsty, because I don’t have a plan!
So, there are no surprises that our Christmas food itinerary has been planned to the finest detail. We – and I say ‘we’ because Matt also secretly likes a plan(!) – have structured an order of events for the period and a menu plan with all the foods that we are going to eat. I am under no illusion that others don’t also plan their food well in advance for Christmas Day, it is, after all, one of the most celebratory days of the year, but I thought it may be worth me writing this blog post to share how I do things as it might help you with your Christmas planning.
To start, Matt and I work out how the holidays are going to be structured – who we will be seeing, when we will be seeing them and where we will all be. From there, I plan the days I will be hosting and what foods we will need to be cooking. This Christmas, we have family visiting from 21st – 27th December so I have 7 days worth of hosting to plan for!
I look at each day individually and then how they will sit together to ensure there is no crossover on the food types. As many of you may know, Matt and I do not eat meat anymore so I like to introduce lots of different flavours to my Christmas cooking with the use of spices and fish. Below, I have pulled together my meal plan for the 3 key days across the festive period. I have included the recipes I will be using and listed the foods that I will be preparing in advance and then freezing.
Lunch: Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli – Italian bean and pasta soup served with warm ciabatta bread (recipe). This is such an easy soup to make but incredibly tasty and packed full of wonderful ingredients.
As an alternative to the soup, I like to give my children a ‘picky lunch’ comprising of smoked salmon, carrot sticks, cucumber and some of these amazingly good vegetarian sausage rolls (recipe).
Dinner: Camembert and cranberry pie with red onion relish in a combination of shortcrust and flaky pastry (homemade by my mother-in-law and is currently in the freezer). This will be served with green cabbage and oven roasted new potatoes with rosemary and garlic.
Dessert: Italian Chocolate nut Christmas cake served with creme fraiche (made 2 weeks in advance, click for the recipe)
Other good Christmas Eve recipes that I like to cook include; Salmon en Croute (recipe), Luxury Fish Pie (recipe), Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (recipe), Cheesy Risotto with Ratatouille & Basil (recipe) and Smoked Fish, Leek and Sweetcorn Chowder (recipe). If I was cooking with meat, I would opt for either a slow cooker recipe such as Beef Bourguignon or a good, old-fashioned honey glazed ham.
Stocking opening time..!: Tea/coffee with shortbread biscuits
Brunch (10.30am ish): Eggs Florentine/Royale (I use a really good Hollandaise sauce recipe by Gordon Ramsey. I just reduce the white vinegar during the week before Christmas Day as otherwise, your kitchen will smell so strongly of vinegar! ). We will, of course, serve our Christmas morning breakfast with a glass of Champagne/orange juice for the children.
Present opening ceremony! (midday-ish):
Lunch/Dinner (around 3/4pm):
- Vegetarian mushroom & chestnut wellington (to be made on Christmas Eve, click for the recipe)
- Vegan gravy with port and blackcurrant (made in advance and in the freezer, click for the recipe)
- Turkey crown (for the children)
- Pigs in blankets (for the children)
- Roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary
- Maple roasted carrots and parsnips
- Brussel sprouts and petit pois with chestnuts tossed in herbed butter
- Bread sauce (made in advance and frozen, click for the recipe)
- Veggie nut loaf stuffing muffins from The Happy Pear (recipe) OR Pecan, apple and celery stuffing by Sarah Raven which I made last year and were really good! (recipe) Both I have made in advance and popped in the freezer.
- Spiced red cabbage (made in advance and frozen, click for the recipe)
- Cauliflower cheese
- Cranberry sauce (made 1 week in advance and popped in the fridge, see image below for the recipe)
- Yorkshire puddings
Dessert: Christmas pudding with Cream and a Chocolate cake (alternative to the Christmas pudding for the children)
We usually finish our Christmas dinner at around 5pm and then make our way to the lounge for a quiet sit down and Christmassy family film! A box of chocolates may also get opened…!
Breakfast: Bubble and squeak (using the Christmas day leftovers) with smoked salmon, fried eggs and rocket
Lunch: Spiced salmon coulibiac (made in advance and frozen, click for the recipe) served with a curried mayonnaise and cool raita, new potatoes, grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli and peas
Dessert: Christmas wreath pavlova (recipe)
Supper: Cheese with spiced apple chutney (recipe) and mackerel pate, grapes, apples and biscuits
So there you have it, our festive food plan for the 3 key days of Christmas. I hope this has inspired you and will perhaps even help you with your Christmas cooking!
Thanks for reading and a very Merry Christmas to you all! x