4 tips for cooking your Christmas dinner more efficiently

Have you lined yourself to cater for family and friends over the festive season? Aside from getting hold of plenty of food and drink, you'll also need to think about how to get it all prepared.

No matter whether you're cooking a few canapes here and there or a full-blown meal, there are some steps you can take to minimise the impact of your efforts on your energy bills.

We've put together some top tips to make your Christmas catering efforts as efficient as possible.

1. Plan ahead

Some careful planning is important over the festive period if you're going to avoid rushing about at the last minute. Write a list every time you're having guests over so you know exactly what to buy.

This will reduce the need for you to go from store to store in your car, which can quickly run up your fuel costs during this busy time of year.

2. Bring food to room temperature

The colder food is, the longer it will take to cook. In light of this, you might want to think ahead a little and bring the food to room temperature before putting it in the oven or microwave.

Instead of cooking items from frozen, defrost them first and you could shave minutes of time off your stint in the kitchen - just check the instructions first to make sure this is OK!

Don't leave food out on the side if the temperature is soaring. Food experts recommend you defrost items in the fridge to do it in the safest way possible.

3. Choose the right size cooking ring

If you're using your hob over Christmas, make sure you select the cooking ring that's best suited to the size of your pan. Too small and it will take extra energy to heat the contents of the pan; too big and you'll be using more gas or electricity than you need.

It's also important to use pan lids to keep the heat contained, therefore reducing your cooking times.

4. Get your timings right

The oven will be invaluable over the festive period, and with some forward thinking, it's possible to use it in the most effective way.

Avoid switching it off and on by seeing which foods can be cooked together at a similar temperature. This is a much more efficient way to use the appliance than using it intermittently.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott