Christmas dinner should be an opportunity for family and friends to celebrate the season and enjoy each other’s company. This is often hard for the person hosting as they find themselves trying to make all the family favourites.
While foods like turkey, salad and mashed potatoes taste better when they’re made just before eating, you can actually make several items a few days – or even weeks – in advance. Take a look at the following ideas and start making some of your Christmas dinner dishes now.
Start your gathering with some delicious appetizers. Shrimp platters typically only require you to thaw the pre-cooked shrimp and dump the shrimp sauce out of the jar. Spinach artichoke dips are delicious with tortilla chips or pieces of bread. Spinach and artichoke dip is also surprisingly easy to make and lasts up to three months in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, just warm it up.
A light soup can get the meal off to a good start and most soups can be frozen and reheated for your Christmas dinner. Noodles and potatoes don’t freeze well, so look for recipes that don’t include those ingredients. Butternut squash soup is a good way to get some veggies into the kids. Consider freezing it in a circular container, then just putting the frozen block into your slow cooker.
It's easy enough to prepare the turkey ahead of time so all you need to do is pop it in the oven. If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, make sure to give it enough time to thaw (up to three days). The day before you cook it, remove the innards and season the turkey. If you plan to cook the stuffing inside, don’t let it sit in the turkey overnight. Place it inside just before you put it in the oven.
4. Gravy and Stuffing
Gravy is something you usually prepare along with your Christmas turkey but the process can feel rushed because it’s one of the last things to make. If you’d rather make it ahead of time, you can. Simply use this make-ahead gravy recipe and freeze. When you heat it up, include a bit of the drippings from your Christmas turkey as well.
Make-ahead stuffing is also something you can prepare on the stovetop instead of in the bird.
Fresh-baked dinner rolls are a real treat but making them can take a while. To save yourself some time, you can partially bake your dinner rolls, freeze them and finish them off on Christmas Day. Alternatively, you can make the dough up to two weeks in advance and freeze it before letting it rise. On Christmas Day, you’d bring the dough out to thaw, allow it to rise and bake normally.
6. Make-Ahead Vegetarian Options
Turkey might be the traditional Christmas dinner meal but if you have vegetarians in the family – or just want something a little different this year – consider making a hearty vegetarian main dish as well. Chili is a popular choice with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. This freezer-friendly chili recipe with lots of veggies.
Lasagna is another good choice for a vegetarian entrée. You could even make a meat version and a vegetarian version so everyone is eating the same thing. All you need is a few great tips for freezing lasagna.
With the scrumptious meal you’ve prepared, everyone will be looking forward to dessert. You won’t disappoint with a few make-ahead dessert options. The BBC Good Food site has a good recipe for mince meat pies that can come from the freezer. Alternatively, you could make something like a frozen peppermint pie. With the classic peppermint taste and colours of a candy cane, it’s sure to be a Christmas hit.
Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be a chore. By focusing on making some of your foods in advance, you can enjoy your day with family and friends.