A mother-of-two has already finished preparing her Christmas dinner – over a month before the big day.
When the day comes around, Kate Hall, from Bromley, can sit easy while her dinner cooks straight from frozen, having already prepped each dish – including the gravy – in advance, and popped it in the freezer this month.
The 37-year-old first came up with her savvy hack a few years ago while on maternity leave, saying it makes her feel ‘much less stressed’ about cooking and food waste.
It also helps her save up to two hours of cooking during the holidays, allowing her to spend more time with her family – Matt, 40, Ellie, seven, and Josh, five.
The savvy mother also started sharing her food storage and cooking advice online, where she uses the handle @thefullfreezer and has over 60,000 followers.
‘I started prepping and freezing individual ingredients a few years ago, to stop them from ending up in the bin,’ Kate said. ‘I was on maternity leave, and I’d previously batch cooked but was struggling to do this with a baby and a pre-schooler.
‘I then had the lightbulb moment, realising I could use my freezer as a “pause button”. It was a really natural progression to then go on to prep and freeze Christmas dinner!’
Kate has organised the dinner by ingredient, which are clearly labelled and dated, including meat and vegetables.
Her genius method of par-boiling, cooling and freezing means that none of the veg needs to be defrosted either – she can simply whack it in the oven and relax.
‘I often buy cook-from-frozen joints and pigs-in-blankets, so it can all be whacked into the oven or air fryer straight from frozen,’ Kate explained.
‘The only thing I usually defrost is the stuffing balls, to ensure they are cooked through without overcooking on the outside. I just make sure it’s all piping hot throughout with my food probe thermometer.’
The no-stress prep method saves the mother cash too, allowing her to spread the cost of Christmas over two months.
She uses discount offers and bargain buys to keep her festive food shop costs at a minimum, too.
Kate said: ‘Using this method allows me to spread the cost. Freezing ahead also means I can take advantage of any yellow sticker, special offer or bulk offers that I come across in the months before Christmas.
‘I can also just cook as much as we need on Christmas Day, rather than cooking it all just for the sake of it, or having leftover uncooked veggies sat going off in the fridge.
‘Freezing food at risk of going in the bin throughout the year has definitely helped me save money.’
The mother has converted others to her clever festive dinner approach too, sharing her advice in a Facebook group with 13,000 members who have given Kate’s hack ‘rave reviews’.
The food waste expert set up Full Freezer to help others tackle food waste and has hit headlines in the past, even getting a mention on The Drew Barrymore Show with her time-saving cooking method.
If you want to give the Christmas dinner prep a go for yourself, Kate recommends doing a test-run first to avoid any issues during the holidays.
And on the day, freeze the leftovers too if you won’t use them within two days – as long as they are chilled within two hours of cooking, you can repurpose them later into a frittata, soup or pie.
Kate said: ‘It’s a good idea to give it a test-run – prepping, freezing and cooking from frozen to make sure everything is to your taste.
‘But if you’re not likely to have time for that then I’d say start with just prepping your roast potatoes in advance for this Christmas. They taste amazing cooked straight from frozen, I promise you won’t look back!’