It’s that time of the year again – when I wish I’d started Christmas prep in September… But hey ho, I’m just not that organised. If you are feeling the strain slightly, here are my Top Five Tips for a Great Christmas Day for busy mums, dads, grannies, grandpas – and everyone else.
- Do not panic. Get organised by thinking through the entire menu in advance and the various pots, pans and other dishes you will need on Christmas Day – check you know where they are, they are clean and they are ready to go.
- Delegate. If your child is old enough to carry cutlery without falling over and accidentally stabbing themselves then they can help set the table. Get your dad to serve the drinks. Uncle Geoff can wash up. Small children like tasks too – you need everyone on board here. Your new mantra is, ‘Remember, there’s no ‘i’ in team, folks!’
- Preparation. Check now you have the following essentials at home: batteries, coffee, black bin bags, number for local taxi firm, corkscrew that actually works, kitchen roll, loo roll, matches, copious amounts of sparkling wine 😉
- Get outside. It is very easy to get very hot, quite stressed and cooped up in the house on Christmas Day. Get outside for some fresh air – you and the children will appreciate it! Stretch your legs with a little walk – you will come back to the hectic household feeling refreshed (and maybe even ready for more cheese…).
- Music. Everyone likes a festive tune to help gee things along; line up a great Christmas playlist now (or better still, delegate this to husband/boyfriend/teenager– see point 2) – from carols to Bing Crosby, a good old family singalong as you dry up the dishes together can be one of those bonding moments you never forget!
Enjoy your Christmas Day!
It’s been an amazing year for me on lots of fronts, but of course, like any working mum of young children it’s had its stressful moments too, so I am really looking forward to a break from the routine. We are spending Christmas day with my lovely mum and dad, which we are all looking forward to. (Mum – make sure you read my handy tips!)
Thank you everyone for reading my blog, for sharing your stories and for supporting The One-Handed Cook in 2014. Thank you to the brands I’ve worked with for your support, too. Here’s to more in 2015.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone!
If you can think ahead when it comes to preparing meals –whether for the children, to eat together as a family, or for two invariably tired parents, then you have already won half the battle in the kitchen, I find. It’s taken a while, but I have learnt that cooking ‘stage by stage’ is a great way of helping me feel like I am (kind of) on top of things. By ‘stage by stage’ I mean using little windows of opportunity when the little ones are asleep/occupied in their high chair/at school to get ahead – so, for example washing and chopping vegetables in advance and storing in the fridge, or pre-roasting root veg to stir into a salad or pasta dish – this helps make prepping supper one-handed with baby on your hip a breeze!
Being a spontaneous kind of girl, at first this notion of planning and doing meal prep in advance really went against the grain, but I have persevered, and now I find it an incredibly useful approach to cooking, especially given the hours I work, and the precious weekend time that I want to spend with the family.
If you can get into the habit of being organized, planning meals, and cooking in stages you will feel calmer and more in control in the kitchen. You will also find you spend less time trying to rustle up meals on the fly and cooking when it’s reached ‘tipping point’, i.e. when the children are hungry and whiny, which can, let’s face it, be very stressful. And no-one likes to be stressed in the kitchen!
To help you feel less stressed and more calm and in control in the kitchen, here are my top time-saving tips for busy people:
- Use the windows of opportunity available to you throughout the day to get ahead: prepare vegetables, make a white sauce, prepare the couscous – even just 5 minutes used well can help you cut down on cooking time later on.
- Keep a well-stocked store cupboard – this is one of the secrets to success in the kitchen. If you have a selection of ingredients to hand then you will always be able to prepare something quick, easy and interesting.
- Put aside some time to plan the week’s meals. Having an overview of who is eating what and when will help you plan the shopping and reduce waste.
- Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts if you are pressed for time and your week is going to be madly busy: no-one else is going to know (or likely care) if you buy ready-prepared vegetables. Don’t judge yourself either – do it and move on.
- Stock your freezer with practical things (bags of frozen veg, homemade stock for later use, prawns etc.) and also interesting bits and bobs so that even the most unexciting prospect can be transformed. A tin of tuna and some sundried tomatoes can suddenly look quite interesting served with some posh bread from the freezer and a drizzle of olive oil. (A tub of fancy ice-cream can go a long way, too…)
- Make double and freeze half for another meal. Stocks, curries, stews, pasta sauces and soups all freeze really well. Feel smug as you get it out the freezer next time 🙂
Let me know your time-saving tips!
Hope these help.
With special thanks to Jenny at The Gingerbread House for letting me reproduce her wonderful Playmobil clock photo to illustrate this post!