Sunday, 27 August 2017

Planning for Christmas 2017 Part 4.1 Starting the food stash

Its not just about gathering things together with crafting, which I have been heavy on in the last couple of posts and which may not be to everyone's taste.  In the bigger scheme of things its about planning forward.

One of the things I tend to do is to add a few items extra to the basket each week in the run up to Christmas.  I have already started (a little earlier than usual).  Dried fruit has been on offer at my local CoOp two bags of fruit for £3 - which when it comes to dried fruit is not bad. So it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.  I have four bags of each which should take us through.  This however only relates to raisins, currants and sultanas which are the basics but I also added in mixed peel and cherries.  The dried fruit I have in stock is going into the home made mincemeat which I will start shortly. I will post separately about this. Home made mincemeat is far superior to the bought stuff although that plays its part if you do not at present have the funds, time or space to actually have a go.  Each of us has our own priorities and guidelines as to what we can and cannot do.  We create our own Christmas's this is just what I get up to.  The food is a big part of Christmas and I try and provide good eating not only for us but for the extended family as well.

We love fruitcake and Christmas pudding.  I usually make my brother one of each as well as plum loaf.  For the past couple of years I have not left the loaf long enough to rest but this year I have a plan of action, which is below if you want to have a go as well together with links to recipes.


Things to do

Start to add items to the shopping trolley.  Items with a long stop date.  Even if you do one thing a week it will soon build up and be less to fork out for later on. Take advantage of offers on baking consumables and especially dried fruit.  Especially if you are going to make your own Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.

Make your own flavoured sugars.  I make vanilla sugar and use it when I bake in cakes and also decorating the top of and in home-made custard.  It costs about £3 for two vanilla pods and all I do is find a big jar put the sugar in and then push one of the vanilla pods into the sugar it is well covered and then put the lid on and leave it for a few weeks.  Lavender sugar can be made the same way.  To buy it costs an absolute arm and a leg.  You can use caster or granulated.  As the pod is whole you can then use in its own right for egg custard etc.

Buy tinned goods with a long stop date.  Having tinned fruit and beans, tomatoes etc in the pantry gives you a lot more scope  when it comes to making meals and baking as well.

Don’t forget the freezer stock up there too.

Bottle peaches in syrup.

Bottle pears in syrup.

Spiced Pickled Pears.

Mulled Pears.

Mixed white fruits in syrup.

Mixed red fruits in syrup.

Make home made pasta sauce.

More Apricot Jam and Apricot Chutney.

Make Five spiced peaches.

Make Chutneys from seasonal ingredients.  Especially peach chutney use the fruit whilst it is available and does not cost the earth.  Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make piccalilli.

Take advantage of Victoria plums and bottle some for later use in puddings but also to make some Victorian Sugar Plums for Christmas.

Do pickled onions and shallots. Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make home-made wines and beers and ciders either from fresh ingredients or kits.

Make Mincemeat.

Look out for wild mushrooms especially puffballs they are delicious and can be preserved.

Make Christmas cakes.

Make Christmas Puddings.

Make Pickled Red Cabbage


Make home-made sausage rolls and open freeze them without cooking.  Pack into a suitable number say 12 and bag them.  Then when you want some take out of the freezer and straight into the oven to cook.  This will save time when you have so much else to do.

Make home-made Pork Pies and freeze uncooked.

Make Home-made feasting pie and freeze uncooked.

Make mince pies and do the same as well as coconut cheesecakes and pastry tart bases for jam tarts filled with your home made jam.

Make fruit curds.

Make Nan’s Plum Bread

The week before Christmas say a couple of days make the pork pies, feasting pie, and cook the ham.

I will be updating  regularly and will probably put up  as a post in its own right.

Rather than specific dates I have grouped these into monthly things to achieve although specific dates i.e. stir up Sunday I will mention the actual dates.

One thing I will mention is if you see things now that you want for your own table especially things like cranberry sauce, redcurrant jelly check the sell buy date and if it into next year buy them now if you can afford it and pop it up in your stash.   Checking sell by dates is one of the keys to being able to put stuff up and away now.

I use both fresh, frozen cranberries or pre-bought Cranberry jelly.  I always make fresh cranberry sauce to go with the Turkey and it has orange zest and Grand Marnier added to it.  I just love it. In the run up to Christmas when the Cranberries start to appear in the shops  I buy and freeze the Cranberries when I can get them on offer as come January I start again with making homemade cranberry jelly to last us through the year.  I would just mention that Cranberries if kept in the fridge do keep quite well - I have bought them and kept them in the fridge a couple of weeks before Christmas as come actual Christmas if you do not get what you can while you can it becomes a bit of a rat race in the supermarkets.  That's why I do as much as I can beforehand.

I have a big red box that I add my Christmas bits and bobs to which is under the stairs out of the way so that someone cannot help himself.  Often I outgrow the box and then I have to find other hidey holes in which to store said bits and bobs.

When the shops start with the Christmas display they often have offers on with these which I also try and take advantage of.  Things like tins of sweets that sort of thing - although I am not as keen on the sweets as I used to be as the chocolate is not the same nor the fillings.  Why mess with something when it was perfect as it was.  However it does provide some nibbly bits when watching TV or if you have a few people over.

Buy red and white wines now  I think prices go up on things in December so get the wine now either a bottle at a time or on offer and pop it up.  There is no need to buy mulled wine.  It is very easy to make.  I am the only one in the household who loves mulled wine especially on a cold winter night.  Warms you up.  I did not want to waste it so I bought myself the smallest slow cooker that I could and I have the wine from this  a glass or two a night so I am not technically wasting any.  You can use white wine as well and cider.  So pop the bottles up whilst you can and whilst it is cheaper.  Buy a few bottles of this and that and if buying spirits take advantage of the offers is the best way of dealing with this. 

I have never made a bitter before and I have a kit.  I have plenty of bottles as I recycle them from bought drinks.  Crown caps and cappers can be obtained from Wilkos or other specialist shops.  So this will shortly be made, perhaps with one or two other kits.  I will see how I get on.

I try and do as much as I can prior to Christmas as I not only have the food side to sort out but also the crafty stuff so I intend to go into operation Christmas..  Sorry I am a Christmas nut.

As this post has taken a little longer than anticipated and as I have let my fingers do the talking and idea after idea has fallen out so I intend to extend this into the next post.

Catch you soon.




  1. I bet you have a fab, traditional Christmas. Mine is tiny, my parents come round to my kid and me. This year I have a partner, so hopefully one more. I buy some food the night before and no presents. LOL.

    1. 9FF I carry om the Christmas traditions of my family/ Both my Nan and Mum always made more of Christmas than at any other time of the year. I make a lot of stuff by choice but more because of the flavour and it works out cheaper in the greater scheme of things. The food I do prepare is sourced reasonably cheaply and is taken into account on the food budget. Sometimes I do not need as much and hardly spend anything but it gets carried through and evens itself out in the end. I am lucky to have a reasonably prices fruit and veg shop. Much cheaper than the supermarkets.My Mum and Dad and my partners mum and dad always used to come for Christmas one day each but now we no longer have them but I do have an extended family. Christmas is what you make of it and each of us is different and celebrates in their own way. Its about family and being together. Take care. Pattypanx

  2. Anne I sent an email to the address I have for you but unfortunately it has been returned. Can you email me your address. Thanks

    Tricia x


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