Christmas food shopping list: here’s what to add to your festive checklist

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Shopping for food at Christmas is a minefield at the best of times, and reported shortages have added an extra layer of confusion this year. 

Turkey shortages have been well reported, which farmers have blamed on a lack of seasonal workers. There have also been fears of a scarcity of pigs in blankets  and a recent report warned that goose supplies could be lower than demand. 

Supermarkets, however, have sought to quell fears. Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said: “We expect to sell more fresh turkeys this year than ever before and we’ll have plenty available.”

To keep your festive shopping relaxing, as befits the season, heed the advice from the experts. 

Prepare but don’t stockpile

In a year when shortages have made constant headlines, it’s easy to imagine Black Friday-style rushes to grab turkeys and hams. 

Supermarket bosses, however, have insisted there is good availability on most products, although some have admitted certain shortages are possible. “We have good availability overall, so even where customers may not find the exact product they’re looking for, we will have alternatives available,” says Roberts. 

Nevertheless, he insists that daily deliveries right up until Christmas Eve will mean the vast majority of Christmas products, from cakes and puddings to mince pies and cranberry sauce, will be in good supply. 

A Waitrose spokesperson backed this up. “We are working closely with our suppliers and are very confident that we’ll have a fantastic array of products to provide our customers with everything they need over the festive season. We have Christmas food and drink arriving in our shops now and throughout the run up to Christmas. Fresh turkeys are available online for our customers to browse and purchase now via our Entertaining by Waitrose service.” 

While 2020 saw many supermarkets introduce restrictions on certain products, this is not expected to be an issue in 2021. 

Book your Christmas delivery slot ahead

Many of the UK’s major supermarkets release their Christmas delivery slots in late November. Sainsbury’s, for example, has slots for Delivery Pass holders from November 23rd, while Waitrose has already released its slots. 

While this year is unlikely to see as many home deliveries as last, supermarket executives are already reporting a high level of customers planning ahead, and the advice is to get started as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 

How to plan your Christmas dinner 

Telegraph Food columnist Xanthe Clay argues we shouldn’t skimp. “Make lots and plan leftovers. Things like braised red cabbage, freeze in two portion bags so you can pull out what you need. Don’t forget you can freeze cooked meat too.”  

Kenny Tutt, who won MasterChef in 2018 and runs the PITCH restaurant and cookery school, says getting ahead is ideal when entertaining large groups for Christmas. Sauces – bread, cranberry, gravy – freeze well.

Tutt also thinks broadening your christmas leftovers repertoire will help prevent any waste. Last year, Tutt made sprout samosas, which he says were “amazing”.

If you wish to downsize the meat, or can’t find what you’re looking for, swap the turkey for beef, lamb, pheasant – or why not try a cockerel? Bigger than a chicken, smaller than a turkey, and tastier than both.

Christmas food shopping checklist

To ensure the big day goes without a hitch, a food shopping checklist is a must-have. To make life easier, these are the key items that you can’t do without.

1. Christmas turkey, the classic centrepiece.

2. British free-range goose as a Dickensian alternative with a fuller flavour.

3. Christmas gammon, with or without spices, to see you through boxing day.

4. Pigs in blankets, irresistibly snack-sized and usually gone before dinner.

5. Pork, sage and onion stuffing. for herby complexity.

6. Cranberry sauce, for that juicy cool accompaniment.

7. Bread sauce, for comfort-food appeal.

8. Christmas pudding as the final coup de grace.

9. Mince pies for light pre- and post-dinner skirmishing.

10. Brandy butter for both of the above.

11. Stilton for a dignified end to proceedings.

12. Port to go with the Stilton.

13. Champagne at all times.

Read more: How to cook the perfect traditional Christmas dinner and, for those crucial Christmas deliveries, our guide to the Best online supermarkets

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