Week 6: Making A List And Checking It Twice
Starting 20th December
With less than a week until Christmas Day you’re probably wondering how you’re going to get everything done before the big day. Well, take a deep breath, release it slowly and reach for some paper and a pen. It’s time to put together your list of Christmas tasks that still have to be done – once it’s all on paper you’ll feel calmer and be ready for Christmas to run smoothly.
1. Write down all the tasks that are currently swimming through your head on a piece of paper – don’t worry about the order, who is going to do it or when it needs to be done, just get it written down!
2. Ask others at home if they can think of things that need doing and add it to the list. Now, review your list and check it includes
- Planning your Christmas menu (use our festive planner to help).
- Food you need to buy (check out our festive food ideas from week 5).
- Any presents you’ve not been able to get yet. Need more inspiration? Then our week 3 great gifts guide has a few ideas to help you
- Writing and sending any remaining cards, the last posting date for second class is 18th December and 20th December for first class
- Buying a couple of extra general presents that could be given to people you didn’t expect to get gifts from (wine, book tokens and department store vouchers etc which could be given to anyone)
- Putting together a plan for cooking Christmas dinner
- Making sure you’ve lots of plastic containers to store opened packets of food and for your leftovers.
3. If you’ve got similar tasks on the list group them together so you’re reminded to do similar things at the same time. Work out when the things need to be done and write a new list so you can easily see what else needs to be done and when.
4. Put your list somewhere you’re going to see it every day – the front of the fridge or the back of the bathroom door might work for you!
We spend a lot of extra money on last minute shopping for things we’ve already bought or didn’t really need. There aren’t many people who will stick completely to a list but having one can save you time and money.
Save money – If you know what you want to buy you’ll not feel as tempted by the special offers or buy extra things you don’t actually need or already have.
Save time – You’re unlikely to forget a key item and rush out for it when the shops are really busy with everyone else doing their last minute shopping
Save the environment – Sticking to your list will reduce the amount of extra food you have leftover which may end up in the bin and reduce the number of trips you need to make to the shops.
Friends of your shopping list – Use By and Best Before
Check the “use by” date before you put the food you’ve chosen in your trolley. This is a food safety date and food should never be eaten after the date shown. Food can be safely frozen right up to its “use by” date though, so if you see a bargain in the supermarket, which won’t last until Christmas, store it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use it, defrost fully and use within 24 hours.
Lots of other food will have “best before” dates on, including tinned food, bakery items, bread, and fruit and vegetables. After the best before date the food is perfectly safe to eat, the makers of the food give the date as a guide because they believe it won’t taste at its best after that date passed but you may prefer the taste or not notice a difference.
Mince pies and other festive treats will have a best before date on, but even if this is before Christmas as long as they are stored in their unopened packaging, they will still be fine to serve up to guests and use in your meals. Just like food with a use by date you can freeze these items or use them to make a meal and freeze the meal ready for the Christmas period.
The use by and best before dates will give you guidance about how long something can stay in your fridge or cupboard before it needs eating. You may also find sell by and display until dates on the packaging – ignore them, they’re just for the shop staff to help them keep the shelves full.
Starting 25th December
Leftovers at Christmas aren’t just about food, you’ll also have lots of packaging, wrappings and other bits and pieces that you want to clear out as quickly as possible. It’s tempting to stuff all of the wrapping paper, metallic ribbon, adhesive tape, cardboard boxes and lots of other unwanted items in to a bin bag and put it outside but we all know we shouldn’t do that, here’s a few tips to make it easy to re-use and recycle.
Wrapping paper – use the rip test, if you can tear it put it in your recycling bin. If you can’t then your wrapping paper isn’t paper at all – it’s plastic or foil and should go in your bin or you could use it to make Christmas decorations or gift tags for next year. Even if it’s just paper there are lots of creative ways to re-use it so why not have a quick check online for inspiration.
Cardboard boxes – They come in all shapes and sizes – around toys, shoe boxes, with food in – and can be recycled, though you might want to flatten them and tie together to make them easier to store at home and take up less space in your recycling container. Boxes are great to re-use as playthings as well, large boxes can be turned in to cars, boats and robot costumes. Boxes can also be used to make pet beds, store presents until you clear out some cupboard space for them and can be used to package items you’ll be posting for birthdays later in the year.
Bubble wrap and polystyrene – You can’t recycle these items so re-use them instead. Store in one of your empty cardboard boxes and use in the future to wrap items before you post them, to protect extra glasses and plates until you use them again next Christmas or use it to wrap your valuables if you’re moving home, alternatively give them to someone else who is moving.
Plastic wrapping – There are lots of varieties of plastic wrapping, you’ll have the stuff that feels and acts like cling film, the sheets of clear or coloured plastic, the bags around parts of games, the rigid plastic holding toiletry gift packs together and many more. Most of these cannot be recycled (there are some exceptions so check what your local council says), and importantly some of them can be re-used. Our favourites for re-use are the clear and coloured plastic around bunches of flowers or pot plants and the bright sweet wrappers from Roses or Quality Street. With these you can wrap other presents, create colourful decorations or use for other craft projects.
Sweet and biscuit tins – These are absolutely brilliant for storing everything! Great for all sorts of cakes and food stuff, use them over the next couple of weeks to take food to other people’s homes and store the party food you make or buy or have leftover. Use them to keep all the Lego bricks together, hold your sewing threads and buttons, protect light bulbs in the cupboard, keep wires and USB sticks in one place, hide all the loose nails and screws away or use as drums. If you don’t need any more at home see if anyone else needs them for storage. You can also recycle them if you want to.
String and ribbon – Can’t be recycled but there are lots of craft things you can do. Something quick and easy is to use them to decorate gift tags, use it as the string for gift tags, tie decorations together to form a banner or use as cat toys.
Hopefully you don’t have too many leftovers after planning your portions, checking what your guests like and dislike and encouraging them not to overfill their plates but instead go back for seconds or thirds if they want to eat more. But it’s Christmas so of course you’re going to have some leftovers. Instead of eating the same thing for days or throwing away leftovers because you can’t face eating brussels sprouts for the third day running here are a few ideas for delicious things you could cook
- Turkey, stuffing and cranberry Chelsea buns
- Turkey pot pie
- Turkey and sweet corn burgers
- Turkey and vegetable soup
- Turkey curry including tikka masala or chickpea and coconut
- Turkey and veg stir fry with noodles
- Omelette – just add pieces of turkey
- Turkey bake
- Spiced potato cakes
- Add to curry (whole or in pieces)
- Dill and potato rostis – substitute roast potatoes into this recipe
- Hash browns
- Spanish potato tortilla – slice the roast potatoes into this recipe
- Creamed brussels sprouts, eat with turkey or any other meat you have left
- Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and pasta
- Gammon, sprout and cheeseboard risotto
- Bubble and squeak
- Sprout and cheese frittata
- Roast dinner soup
- Leftovers bake
- Vegetable rosti cake
- Vegetable pie
- Various veg crumble
- Cheesy vegetable ramekins
- Roasted vegetable couscous – substitute the peppers for your leftover veg
Something to do this week
Not sure relaxing and Christmas are two words for the same sentence but here’s a few things you could do to help you have a relaxing Christmas…
Before the 25th
1. Find out when your recycling and rubbish will be collected after Christmas
2. Write your list
Put everything on paper, so you don’t have to remember everything and add to the list as you think of more.
3. Select a recycling champion!
Choose someone in your home to be the person responsible for reducing, re-using and recycling your unwanted items.
After Boxing Day
1. Plan your meals from leftovers for this week
Use our ideas and search the web to put together a menu using up your leftover and your store cupboard staples you’ve already got at home. If you’re going out for a dinner this week and you don’t finish everything ask to take the leftovers home and eat them for lunch or dinner the following day.
2. Share a recipe using leftovers
Take to Twitter, Facebook and email to tell the world about a dish that you’re proud of or you think that others would love. We’ve got a recipes page on this website, send us your favourite to go on it.
3. Start planning your New Year party food
You may need to head to the shops to get everything you need for your party next week so sit down this week and plan what you want to serve. Make a list so when you do go shopping you can spend the shortest time possible and hopefully be in the basket queue which will be shorter (maybe).
4. Keep the festive season alive for longer – make some more decorations
Using the wrapping paper, packaging, magazines and gift tags, make more decorations that you can use this year and next. There are lots of ideas on-line and we’ve a few of our own to share with you too.