Tips For Saving Time And Stress In The Kitchen This Christmas

Keep it simple, stupid.
Let's avoid this.
Let's avoid this.

You either get really excited about Christmas, or you get instantly stressed thinking about all the preparing, buying, cooking and negotiating that goes along with it.

Well, if you're in the stressed party, don't fret. We've got some simple tips to help you out.

"The biggest mistake people make when preparing a Christmas food spread is leaving it to the last minute," Rachel Dean Crayford, catering expert and personal chef from Daisy Dining in Daylesford, told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Preparation is so important, and you need to be organised and plan your menu carefully and in advance.

Here are six tips for saving time (and stress) in the kitchen this Christmas.

1. Prepare and order in advance

"When hosting a Christmas feast, preparation is key," Crayford said.

"Plan your menu and prepare a shopping list with everything you need to avoid making multiple trips to a busy supermarket."

On top of saving time and stress, having a menu plan and shopping list means you're less likely to waste food, too.

"To save yourself some time on Christmas Day, pre-prepare your desserts, dressings and marinades a day or so in advance. Ordering pre-made foods such as a glazed ham is another great way to save some time and costs."

You can also peel the vegetables the day before so they're ready to go.

Just think of all the toasted sangas you can make for the next three months.
Just think of all the toasted sangas you can make for the next three months.

2. Keep things simple

As tempting as it may be, don't try to create the best Christmas feast people ever did see.

"It's Christmas and you want to prepare an elaborate spread, but try not to over-complicate the menu," Crayford said.

"Stick to one type of roast meat and do it well. Try adding some Christmas elements to everyday foods, such as adding candied walnuts to a salad to make a simple meal more festive."

Need main, sides and dessert ideas?

"A classic main dish is a stuffed turkey. You can either stuff it yourself at home or order one pre-stuffed and then roast it yourself on Christmas Day," Crayford said.

"In Australia, Christmas day can often be quite hot so it's a great idea to have some light, cold side dishes available. A green leaf salad with some candied walnuts and roast pumpkin is a quick and tasty addition to any Christmas spread.

"For dessert, trifle! It's a Christmas classic. It is delicious, relatively easy and perfect to share amongst a large group of people."

Yes, trifle can actually be delicious, you just have to do them well.
Yes, trifle can actually be delicious, you just have to do them well.

4. Use in-season ingredients

To save time, Crayford also recommends keeping decorations to a minimum, and to buy what's in season -- remember, we are in Australia, so leave the figs, pears and mandarins for winter. In-season produce will be more available, cheaper and more delicious.

Summer fruits include lychees, mangoes, melons, cherries, pineapples, apricots, peaches and nectarines. As for veggies, asparagus, avocados, beans, eggplant, squash and sweet corn will be the most tasty and fresh.

5. Share the load

Hosting Christmas this year? That doesn't mean you have to make and organise absolutely everything. Try a pot luck-style Christmas instead.

"You don't have to do it all yourself -- ask your family to bring along a plate of food," Crayford said.

"This will help to save on time and costs, and inserts the 'sharing' aspect of the Christmas tradition back into the season."

Bringing (or serving) chocolate is an easy, delicious crowd pleaser.
Bringing (or serving) chocolate is an easy, delicious crowd pleaser.

6. Do Kris Kringle

While Christmas food is scrummy, giving and receiving presents is the best part of the day. To make present time less stressful and time consuming, try these alternatives.

"Set a theme for gifts, do a Kris Kringle, or stipulate that gifts must fit into a certain size box," Crayford said.