What should you cook from scratch at Christmas and what's it OK to buy? We have the answers
This is how to give Christmas the homemade touch – without running around like a headless turkey.
Turkey: make it
If you cook one thing this Christmas, make it the turkey. All eyes are going to be on the big bird and you’ll probably be eating it for weeks. Avoid turkey tears by checking it fits in the oven as soon as you get it (not on Christmas morning!) and buy a disposable foil tray – no-one’s got one that big.
Brussels sprouts: make it
Love em’ or hate ‘em, it’s just not Christmas without sprouts. Plus, buying a sprout tree is actually quite fun (they’re not around all the time, are they?). Don't bother with the crosses on the bottom – it’s an old wives' tale and makes them go soggy.
Carrots and parsnips: buy it
Splash out on miniature Chantenay carrots and baby parsnips. OK, they're slightly more expensive that normal sized veg, but it saves on all the chopping and they look dead fancy too.
Roast potatoes: make it
The taste of a golden, home-cooked roastie is something money can’t buy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead. Spuds actually like a spell in the freezer (it makes them extra crispy), so follow Kate Titford’s easy recipe and let the compliments roll in.
Cranberry sauce: buy it
It only takes 10 minutes but honestly, who’s got the headspace? Buy a jar of the red stuff, spoon into a bowl and add a few fresh cranberries to make it look homemade. Berrylicious.
Bread sauce: buy it
Bread soaked in milk? What’s that all about? Pick up a packet, add hot water and sprinkle with ground cloves. A pretty glass bowl helps, too.
Pigs in blankets: buy it
Unless you're stuffing your own sausages and smoking your own bacon, they're not really homemade anyway. And who wants to stand there wrapping all those sausages? Let someone else put the piggies to bed.
Gravy: buy it
"It’s lumpy." "It’s too thin." "It’s really pale so I’ll just add some red wine. Oh god ... now it’s pink!". Spare yourself the pain – granules were invented for a reason. A pot of good-quality stock (rather than a cube) is all you need to inject some instant homemade flavour.
Christmas pud: buy it
Even if you did make a proper pud, let's face it – nobody likes it anyway. You've got to do the whole setting-it-on-fire-thing though, so buy a token pud and bung it in the microwave. A chocolate log? Now THAT'S something we want to make ...
Mince pies: fake it
OK, these are fun to make (especially with the kids) but with half the family descending on you for the day, it’s best to keep things simple. If you must make them, liven up shop-bought mincemeat with lemon zest, brandy or whisky and Medjool dates and just use ready-rolled pasty. Or, dust shop-bought ones with icing sugar and they’ll look homemade anyway.
Christmas cake: fake it
There's nothing wrong with making it a year in advance, following Grandma's recipe and feeding it like a pet. Equally, no one's going to mind if you just buy a plain one and decorate it yourself. If you can't bring yourself to cheat completely, this 5-ingredient Christmas cake is an absolute winner (and couldn't be easier to make).