A Woman Saves Thousands of Dollars in Food Every Year With a Savvy Cooking Hack
A mother-of-two has taken a proactive approach to Christmas dinner preparation by completing the entire meal over a month before the festive day. Everything is ready, including the gravy, to be popped frozen in the oven on the big day, saving her precious time. Her method went viral, and she revealed how she does it.
She has been prepping her Christmas dinner for years.
Kate Hall is a home cooking consultant and a food waste advocate, who’s also a mother-of-two, so spending time with her family whilst optimizing their meals is crucial to her. It’s particularly important during the holidays, so she developed a way to prepare Christmas food (really) early as a way to overcome issues such as food shortages, price hikes, and the inconvenience of being isolated in the kitchen cooking on the big day.
It all started in 2020, when she pre-prepared a Christmas meal as a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as not being able to visit their relatives. However, Kate began prepping and freezing single ingredients years ago to prevent food waste whilst she was on maternity leave, and it became challenging cooking with a baby and a pre-schooler.
Her “lightbulb moment” came when she realized she could use her freezer as a “pause button” for various ingredients. This practical approach not only helped in managing daily meals, but naturally extended to preparing and freezing Christmas dinner.
She explained how she does it and encourages people to try it.
To ensure hassle-free roast potatoes on Christmas Day, the 37-year-old recommends a clever strategy. If you plan to make roast potatoes in the lead-up to December 25th, par-boil double the quantity needed and freeze the extra portions. Kate’s method involves peeling, chopping, and boiling the potatoes for five minutes, placing them on a tray to freeze for one to two hours while keeping them separated to prevent sticking. Once frozen, transfer the potatoes to a reusable sealed freezer bag. On Christmas Day, simply bake the potatoes as usual.
Kate’s Christmas dinner prep doesn’t forget about the vegetables. She peels, chops, and blanches (briefly immersing the vegetables in boiling water for 1–2 minutes and then rapidly cooling them in iced water) all the vegetables before freezing them, ensuring they are not cooked during this process. It’s important to keep in mind during this part of the process that the vegetables should not be defrosted, as fruits and vegetables tend to fare better when cooked directly from their frozen state.
When it comes to freezing uncooked meat, such as turkey and gammon, it’s recommended to keep it in its original packaging. If that isn’t possible, you can wrap the meat in clingfilm and kitchen foil before placing it in an airtight freezer bag. Before cooking it, make sure the meat is thoroughly defrosted, ideally in the bottom of the refrigerator. The defrosting time for a turkey is estimated at 8 to 12 hours per kilogram, so be sure to plan ahead.
If you’d like to try your hand at preparing your own Christmas dinner in advance, Kate has a few more tips for you. First, she suggests starting with prepping roast potatoes as a manageable first step for, highlighting their excellent taste when cooked straight from frozen. She also believes it’s best to do a test-run to ensure everything meets your taste preferences. Finally, she recommends freezing leftovers on the day, provided they are chilled within two hours of cooking, given they later can be turned into dishes like frittatas or soups.
The method allows her to save money.
Kate’s advanced Christmas dinner preparation not only helps her avoid stress, but also proves to be a budget-friendly strategy, enabling her to spread the festive costs over two months. To keep her Christmas food expenses to a minimum, she takes advantage of discount offers, bargain buys, bulk deals and even special offers on food nearing expiration date, which in turn leads to less potential food waste.
In a full year, Kate claims to save over £1.000 (around $1.250) with her unconventional approach to her food storage, since that by freezing ingredients individually, she avoids last-minute purchases.
Freezing food requires care though.
Freezing food isn’t as straightforward as one might think though. According to Kate, it’s important to avoid what she calls the “food danger zone,” which is when the temperature is ranging between 8°C and 63°C, because bacteria multiplies quickly in those conditions. So, if you’re done cooking and won’t be eating it straight away, it’s crucial to cool food as fast as possible and refrigerate or freeze it within two hours, but avoiding putting hot food directly in the fridge or freezer to prevent raising the temperature of other food.
When it comes to defrosting, make sure to remove any packaging and then put the food on a plate at the bottom of the fridge or use a microwave with a defrost setting. Once that’s done, the food should be consumed within 24 hours or cooked immediately, if you opted for the microwave method.
Christmas is a time when most gather their family to spend quality time together, with the Christmas dinner being perhaps the most awaited hour. However, things are a bit different when you’re part of the royal family. Find out why Prince William and Kate Middleton don’t eat meals with their kids, even on Christmas.