The challenge of Christmas catering, 2020-style

Today, founder of The Food School and food waste expert Sue Cassell launches the HOLLY LEAF campaign to help get us better prepared for Christmas catering and the challenges that lie ahead this Covid year, given we may not know how many we’ll be cooking for. The aim is to minimise stress in the build-up to Christmas so that we can serve up sufficient (and delicious) food over the Festive period, but at the same time avoid waste or endless leftovers.

At the heart of the HOLLY LEAF campaign is advice on planning ahead (this weekend isn’t too early to start), buying for maximum flexibility, preparing food in portions, using your freezer and defrosting correctly, and involving youngsters in the kitchen.

Sue Cassell says ‘last year at home we ate turkey, but this year, I’m considering a vegetarian main course (such as filo pastry parcels with chestnut, mushroom and cranberry filling). Going ‘veggie’ also means it’s safer (from a food hygiene perspective) for youngsters to join in with the prepping and cooking.’

When it comes to using our freezer, here are some of Sue’s tips:

  • veg can be prepped in advance by par-boiling, plunging in cold water and placed in the freezer on a tray lined with baking parchment (so the veg doesn’t stick to the tray) before putting in containers. Cook straight from frozen (to avoid veg going soggy while defrosting)
  • potatoes can be roasted and then frozen. Cook straight from frozen
  • food that is easily portioned will give you maximum flexibility this year, given all the uncertainty
  • make sure you label the contents of your freezer to avoid ‘UFOs – unidentified frozen objects’
  • milk can be frozen (though it will expand slightly) so you might want to pour some milk out of the bottle (enough for a cup of tea) before freezing.

For ’50 ways to reduce your foodprint‘ go to: