Prep Now, Party Later: Your Guide to a Stressfree Christmas Dinner

Prep Now, Party Later: Your Guide to a Stressfree Christmas Dinner

Prep Now, Party Later

Christmas 2020 is presenting everyone with unprecedented challenges: we don’t know how many people we can host, if we can host or what sort of rules will be in place. Will you be allowed to see and hug your folks, or … Will it be the saddest Christmas ever?


Consumers don’t know if they can rely on food deliveries. Memories of March’s empty shelves are pushing up against the confusion about who and how many people can we invite and: can we really afford all the bells and whistles? And what do we do with all the leftovers?


Hubbub and Tesco’s recent collaboration has confirmed a national skills gap in knowledge around food storage, understanding labels and how to safely reuse leftovers. This is a substantial barrier to reducing the volume of consumer food waste created by UK consumers.


Prep Now, Party Later is our response to helping consumers to plan their Christmas dinner, from shopping, through planning how to freeze, how to safely defrost and how to make the most of leftovers (with no turkey curry in sight).


Our event took people through a journey to plan, prep and love their Christmas dinner – even if it’s the first time that dad has been given the Big Job. With a glass of mulled wine in hand, we will provide recipes and tips to help consumers know how to safely defrost and cook frozen turkey, what to do with all those leftover roast parsnips and how to help families in their communities who can’t afford to make their own Christmas dinner.

(Leftover milk) ricotta

(Leftover milk) ricotta

The fresh milk-using-up-debacle continued with the fresh hell that is a ball of ricotta.

Last June, I was at a food event, chattering away over good wine and amazing nibbles (the struggle is real, I know).  Mid-convo, someone tapped me on the shoulder “We went to school together” – “No we didn’t” I replied without even thinking. I’m a real charmer.  I have a familiar face, so I’m often asked if I was at another party (sadly not), if I was at another event (possibly). She persisted – “I was – the year above you” “What, did you go to St Greg’s” I rolled me eyes “YES!” and low, dear readers, I was mortified. The most Marvellous Victoria Glass wrote a food waste book last year; quite why 2 food waste writers went to the school I don’t know.  We did do home ec (as it was then), but it was hardly the hotbed of food education.

When I put out my plea, Victoria suggested rictotta from her book, ‘Too Good to Waste’.  It’s too hard!  I worried “Piece of piss” she said – and she was right!

The ricotta is a doddle to make – but now I have to think of ways to cook it.  Because I made it.  And I, weirdly, don’t love it. But I know I’m in the minority here.  And I’m determined to overcome this one.  I don’t *have* to, but I’ve found a love of olives, stronger cheeses and spicey curries through determination and, really, I just want to be able to be more greedy.

Note: you can only make ricotta if you have whole milk; there isn’t enough fat in other milks.  Preachy time – I try to buy food in its least fucked around with form.  That is, of course, a fairly impossible branding standard to explain.  So I buy cheese not sliced or grated cheese; whole milk which I can water down if I need to; tins of tomatoes rather than a jar of sauce.  After years of skintness I know that I saved money because sour milk can mean soda bread, but a jar of mouldy sauce just has to go in the bin.  So, can I tempt you to buy whole milk? And go nuts and stretch to organic unhomogenised if you can.  Not everyone can.  Money is tight.  If you can, just try it.

I think it’s the idea of cheese and pudding.   So next week, you will have three ideas for using your leftover ricotta.  You’re

(Leftover milk) ricotta
From ‘Too Good to Waste’ by Victoria Glass


1 litre whole milk (it has to be whole milk!)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
60 ml white wine/distilled malt vinegar


Wooden spoon
Slotten spoon
Fine mesh sieve
Cooking muslin
Lidded container for storage


About an hour and a half (though an hour is leaving cheese to drain)


Pour the milk into a good sized saucepan and heat until it reaches 93 C/200 F, just before it boils
Stir in the vinegar and take the pan off the heat
Leave to stand for 15 minutes

Line the sieve/fine mesh strainer with 2 layers of muslin/cheesecloth and set over the bowl
Using your slotted spoon, collect the curds that have formed and transfer them to the sieve
Leave to drain for an hour
After the hour is up, tie the muslin and squeeze out the remaining liquid
Leave for around another 30 minutes to drain again
Place in lidded container until ready to serve

Storage/further meals

When ready to serve, peel off the muslin
Ricotta will last for up to week in the fridge

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

(Leftover milk) cheese sauce extravaganza

(Leftover milk) cheese sauce extravaganza

During my fridge full of milk conundrum, lots of people suggested a cheese sauce freezing for another day.

So I thought: I’ll let you know why MY mum’s cheese/white sauce is the best.  You’re WELCOME.

My mum taught me to gently heat the milk with a bay leaf, seasoning and nutmeg, and leave it to stand for a few hours.  I go a little further and add a leek stalk (if I have it, or some onion ends or half an onion), a parmesan rind (if I have it – it means I need less cheese in the final sauce), and maybe some parsley – preferably just the stalks.  Don’t let the milk boil.  And then leave the milk to stand for anything from 5 minutes to overnight – take the onion/leek out after an half an hour though, else the flavour will dominate.

If, when you go to make your white/cheese sauce, you don’t need all the milk, just freeze it and label it “seasoned milk”.  So you don’t put it in your tea.

Once you’ve tried seasoning your milk you won’t go back…

Now this cauliflower cheese is how my mum made it, to feed a family of 6 a few days before payday.  A ring of mashed potato because cheese sauce and mash are heavenly; plus it was cheap as chips.  The plum tomatoes in the middle are beloved by my dad.  As a kid I didn’t get it at all, but the sharp tang and thin sauce just work.  Don’t fight it.

So make your cheese sauce, and if you like, make your cauliflower cheese and freeze it for a skint January evening.

(Note – my mum made this for 6, but I’ve given quantities for 4, as not many people are mad enough to have a family of 6 these days)

(Leftover milk) cauli cheese

Serves 4, heartily


For the mashed potato:

700 grams floury potatoes such as white/red/King Edwards/Maris pipers
50 grams unsalted butter
50 ml milk

For the cheese sauce

500 ml milk
Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
Salt & pepper
50 grams unsalted butter
90 grams plain flour
Around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like, including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
1 teaspoon mustard

Optional: 1 tin whole plum tomatoes


Saucepan with lid
Optional: pan and steamer
Balloon whisk
Serving bowl
Heatproof jug
Ovenproof dish


About  an hour and a quarter (though around 35 minutes of that is the baking time)


Place the milk in a saucepan with any aromatics
Gently heat until about blood temperature and then leave for at least 5 minutes or up to a day
Remove any onion flavourings after half an hour


Turn the oven to 180C

Make the mash

Steam or boil your potatoes with plenty of salt
Once they are cooked through, mash with plenty of butter
Only add enough milk to make the mash the right consistency for you; you can use more if you like
If you have a potato ricer or mouli, this is the time to break it out – you want a really creamy mashed potato.  No lumps thanks.

Make white sauce

Strain any aromatics from your milk
Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour in
Splash in about 50ml of the milk and make a thick paste
Keep on adding around 50ml of milk, whisking until all the flour/butter mixture is combined
Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using)

Steam the cauliflower for about 15 minutes, so that it’s not fully raw

Mix the half-cooked cauli and cheese sauce together

Assemble the dish

Squash the mash around the edge of your oven-proof dish
Next, pour in the cauliflower cheese
If using the tomatoes, make a well in the middle and pour in
Cover with a thin layer of grated cheese

NOTE – if freezing the whole dish, leave it to cool, cover, label then freeze

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through

Storage/further meals

If you’re not planning to eat this dish within 3 days I’d play it safe and pop it in the freezer

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

Leftover salty nut butter

Leftover salty nut butter

My kids love a bowl of peanuts and a fizzy drink.  There aren’t always a whole heap of leftovers nuts but this year, for some reason, we didn’t get through so many.


The easiest way to get through your leftover salty nuts – peanuts, almonds, any nuts you can name – get them in a bowl, get your immersion blender and pulverise.  You’ll have to go nice and steady and don’t be tempted to add any oil to get things moving.  Just steady, giggle the immersion blender around and then some fresh, peanut or mixed nut butter will be yours!

What will you make with yours?  I’m thinking some fun recipes would be good?

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

Leftover roast (turkey, chicken, pork …) sarnie

Leftover roast (turkey, chicken, pork …) sarnie

(This is an updated post from last year)

Okay yes it’s a sandwich BUT, it’s to illustrate a point… and yes it’s a horrible photo, but I’ve been learning a lot and I hate to make food to just photograph it.

A lot of people aren’t keen on freezing cooked meat.  Once it’s been cooked, you have killed off potentially dangerous bacteria.  Take your leftover turkey and slice it.  Once it’s totally cool, place it in freezer bags or containers.  If you want to have a couple of slices here and there for sandwiches, or noodle bowls or salads, place sheets of greaseproof paper between the slices of turkey as they freeze.  If you’re short of space (I have two kids one dog and a three drawer freezer), you can take the frozen pieces and transfer them to a bag which can squish into smaller spaces.

The meat can be defrosted by sitting on a cooling rack or plate and eaten within a day. This turkey had been in my freezer for two months before I added it to an avocado baguette.  And it was great and cheap and easy.

Got questions?  Please just get in touch ann @

Happy food-waste-busting!




Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

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