It’s about this time each year when I think a lot of people start to get a little bit tense about the holiday season. Have you bought enough gifts? Did you miss anyone out? Will there be enough food? Have you ordered the food? Do you have enough money to pay for it all on Christmas Eve when you pick it up?
A bunch of super important questions, but questions that you really shouldn’t be worrying about in the weeks leading up to Christmas
**As a sidenote: Christmas is 16 sleeps away, give or take a few naps!**
I want to help you have an Organised Christmas and make sure there is time for you to kick back and relax on Christmas Day and in the weeks leading up to it.
Last week, I launched a set of printables to help you organise your Christmas. They are completely free, and all you need to do is sign up to my weekly newsletter and they will be delivered directly to your inbox (and I use the term weekly very loosely, mind you).
In the Christmas Task List, which sets out a bunch of tasks to be completed in the weeks prior to Christmas Day to take some of the pressure off you, I mentioned how right about now, you should be adding things to your grocery list. Things that you are going to need for your Christmas meal, if you’re hosting, or whatever you are taking if you are a guest. Add all things non-perishable to your list in the next week so that you can check a few things off the to do list. I like to think of this as preparing your Christmas Kitchen!
I have already bought everything I will need for our Christmas meal that can be bought this early, so that all I need to do on Christmas Eve is pick up a ham from the butcher (which I ordered weeks ago, and have already paid a large deposit on), fresh seafood from an independent fisherman (supporting local business, and all that!), and any fresh produce I will need from our local grocer.
I’ve felt so “busy” in the past weeks that I have made a right mess of our kitchen. The kitchen bench is always covered in items, mainly food. I simply can’t fit the food into our cupboards. I’ve been literally throwing things in and slamming the door to our pantry closed in the hopes that it won’t all come toppling out before I shut that door!
(#firstworldproblems, I’m aware, and I am also super, super grateful that we have an abundance of amazing food in the house)
So on the weekend, I did a crazy over haul of our cupboards, fridge and freezer so that I can actually fit all of our food in and start the new year with a clean and clear kitchen.
The first thing I did, was grab everything out of the cupboards. I think the number one rule when it comes to organising, and decluttering, is that it will always get worse before it gets better. Your kitchen will look like a crash zone, and because of that, make sure you have a decent amount of time so that you can do the entire job. If you start it and don’t finish, your kitchen will remain looking dishevelled and you will be probably lose a bunch of motivation (unless you have a cleaning fairy, in which case, can I please borrow them?).
As I was grabbing things out, I was putting them into categories. For instance, canned goods were stacked together, crackers and chips were stacked together. It makes sense to store similar items together so that you always know where they are, and more importantly, the people who live with you know where they are so you are not constantly helping people find things that were never lost!
Each item was eyeballed for a “Best Before” or “Use By” date. Every single item that was out of date was thrown. We are starting fresh, remember?
(For full disclosure, I am very strict on Use By’s, but I treat Best Before’s as a caution and use my own judgement. If it isn’t too far out, I usually use the item depending on what it is. This time around, I’m throwing everything to be safe).
There was also another pile for things I bought or that were given to me that I will never, ever use. At Christmas time there are so many families who are less fortunate than others and would really appreciate that food that I was going to just let sit in my cupboard for who knows how long! There is an organisation here on the Central Coast that provides to shelters from the northern to the southern end of the Central Coast, meaning my excess food could help men, women and children from many different areas locally. At this time of year, there are bound to be many Food Drives where you can donate your excess non perishable foods. Search online, or contact your local shelter.
Wipe out the cupboards and start replacing things. Like I said before, storing similar items together is the way to go. I used a few cheap baskets from Kmart to corral like items together. For instance, food colourings and baking decorations are in one basket, another is filled with taco seasonings, taco shells, and other meal recipe bases.
Another tip is to store frequently used items in easily accessible places. My pantry is a high one, so any excess, like my extra flour, rice and pasta, go at the very top of the pantry. Condiments and spreads are on the bottom shelf because they are used a lot. If you have the room, you could also do this with kitchen appliances that aren’t used very often.
Containerise. It’s one of my top tips for all kinds of organisation. Food stored in containers stays more fresh, and looks much neater than a bunch of opened packages in ziplock or freezer bags. Containers protect your foods from creepy crawlies and the elements too. My favourite containers for the pantry are Tupperware Modular Mates, because they stack neatly on top of each other and utilise the space really well.
Next Up! The Fridge and Freezer. When I tidy the Fridge and Freezer I don’t grab everything out straight away, for obvious reasons. I work a shelf at a time.
I know it can be sad, and seem very wasteful, but anything that has freezer burn, or that you don’t even recall putting in your freezer needs to go. Your family’s health and safety is more important than that dubious looking set of frozen yoghurts you made and shoved up the back of the freezer at the start of the year (yes, I’m speaking from experience).
The same goes for the fridge. Why would I keep those wilted spring onions? Just throw it.
As I did with the pantry, I tried to keep like items together. In the freezer there is a shelf that contains frozen meats, one that contains frozen fruits and veggies, one which holds ice bricks, ice and ice cups, and another that holds various pastries and tortillas. The top drawer is for breads and muffins. The bottom drawer is for recess and lunch foods.
By having all of these things stored together, I can easily plan ahead with my meals because I can see what I have. Also, having recess foods easily accessible, the boys can pick the things they want. They take ownership over their lunchbox and it means that a lot more food is eaten throughout the day.
When it comes to my veggie crisper, I use the Vent Smart range to keep my fruit and veg as fresh as possible. I have had celery in a vent smart for two weeks and it is still as crisp as the day I bought it. I also like to store pre-chopped broccoli and cauliflower so that I can throw it in the steamer for a quick and easy side to dinner.
Did I mention I like to containerise everything?
And that small useless shelf that can’t fit anything? That’s where I lie our spare bottles of juice and soft drink.
Now I have all of the non-perishable items I need for Christmas Lunch AND I have room for the perishables when I get them!
Have you Prepared Your Christmas Kitchen?
What are you having for Christmas Lunch?
(’cause I’m a nosey parker who loves food…)
Thanks for stopping by,