While Christmas 2020 was one like no other we’ve ever experienced, Christmas 2021 looks set to pose its own unique set of problems. Last December, the Covid-19 pandemic was still raging across the globe, albeit at different levels in different countries. No one escaped its impacts, whether that was missing loved ones at the dinner table, not being able to enjoy the usual festivities, or simply not having the usual salary to buy food and gifts.
In the UK the situation this year is even more complicated with the combined effects of Covid-19 and Brexit creating huge uncertainty. People have been preparing for food shortages in the run-up to Christmas. While the Government has approved visas for 5,500 poultry workers to ensure there are enough people to deliver supplies of turkey and geese for Christmas dinner, big retailers like Tesco and Iceland have warned of possible delays on goods.
It’s no surprise that people feel anxious. The growing sense of panic has only been confounded by recent fuel shortages caused by Brexit. Fears of a cost-of-living crisis, the ending of temporary relief for those on Universal Credit, and energy price increases looming – Tory minister David Morrison even referred to a “winter of discontent” ahead.
The combination of wanting to make up for lost time and celebrate the season to its fullest, combined with all these extra concerns is it any wonder many people are already feeling festive overwhelm.
So, how do you go about planning for a special Christmas without making decisions that lead to wasted food and wasted money?
Here are our top tips for an organised and less stressful Christmas 2021.
1. Set a budget
The temptation to overspend on festive food is always present. It is, after all, traditionally a time of excess, and after so long in isolation, people are ready to make up for lost time and go all out. While we’re all for families getting together and having a good time, we want to urge people to be cautious with how they approach these temptations.
You may find that food is more expensive than you anticipate this Christmas. There has been a global rise in food prices, with them increasing by 33% in September 2021 and set to continue rising. While this is partly due to Covid-19, there has also been widespread inflation.
Now is the time to be realistic about how much you can really afford to spend on food and presents. Make a budget and stick to it!
Let’s be more organised for Christmas 2021 and not start the New Year in debt.
2. Plan your meals early
Taking the time to research what meals you want to cook can be fun, especially if you take the time to enjoy it! Think carefully about how many people you are cooking for, and how much they are likely to eat. Will you need to offer snacks as well as the main meal? How many courses will you serve? What will you offer people to drink? Organisation at Christmas is the key to a stress-free day.
Thinking about this level of detail early will help you set a realistic plan. Once you know what you want to cook, the next step is to make a detailed list.
Using the CozZo app can make this process much easier and more efficient. Firstly, create an inventory of your cupboard and fridge in the app. Then add the recipes that you want to cook directly from the website or cookbook, saving them in a special folder. You can even scale the recipe to get the right amount of ingredients for the people you are cooking for.
The app will highlight any ingredients that you need to purchase, so you can be sure that you don’t end up buying the same thing twice or missing something vital.
3. Prepare for unexpected guests, but don’t hoard!
Don’t forget that you may have unexpected visitors around the Christmas period. For this reason, you might want to keep some tasty snacks in your store cupboard.
Go for things that you will eat yourself in the coming months in case they don’t get used, and make sure they have long expiry dates for this reason. Bags of nuts, biscuits and even baking ingredients in case you have time to cook something from scratch are useful. Adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add a seasonal flavour that can also be enjoyed year-round.
Just don’t buy bulk items of Christmas-themed goods, even if there’s a good deal on in the supermarket. These are just marketing ploys to get you to spend more!
You risk ending up with a cupboard full of Santa-shaped cookies in January, when you won’t want to serve them to guests. Chances are you’ll end up eating them yourself just to get rid of them, which is not what your body needs after an indulgent holiday season!
4. Don’t forget to plan for your regular household meals
Christmas isn’t just about lavish meals and celebrations! You’re likely going to have days when you stay at home, without guests, and want to eat your normal type of diet.
If you can, try to plan for this by having items in your cupboard that you can easily reach for and make a meal. But don’t overstock on fruits and vegetables in case you simply don’t feel like them during this time.
While you may have aspirations of eating a healthy, balanced diet over the holiday season, chances are you just might not feel like it. And that’s ok, it is Christmas after all! It’s easy to pop out to the shop to buy these things when you know you will eat them, rather than fill your trolley with fresh produce that will go to waste in the fridge.
Using Cozzo to keep an inventory of your food will help you identify meals that are available to you immediately and prevent overbuying.
5. Make the most of frozen foods and long-life items
Fresh food items may be harder to get this year, but luckily frozen fruit and veg are just as nutritious and often cheaper too. The variety of frozen food available today is impressive and the quality is often just as good, if not better, than fresh. You will save yourself a lot of time and worry by having things like pastries, pies and desserts in your freezer alongside frozen vegetables and fruit.
Purchase in advance and the amount of shopping and spending you will have to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas will be massively reduced.
6. Don’t panic!
It’s likely that grocery store shelves won’t be restocked as quickly this year due to shortages of truck drivers. But this doesn’t mean that the items aren’t in storage. We will all have to learn to be more patient.
And finally, don’t panic buy! Not only is this not necessary, but it also causes issues for other people who won’t be able to buy the essentials that they need. There is no need to recreate the panic buying of toilet rolls that we saw at the start of the pandemic.
By all means, treat yourself and your loved one this Christmas season. Just don’t go overboard and spend the first weeks of 2022 regretting your purchases and throwing away food and getting cross at the waste. With some careful planning and help from smart technology like the Cozzo App, Christmas can still be merry and bright this year!