Special meals to make ahead for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day?

Over the last few years I have found that making a stew or pot pie ahead of time and freezing it has made Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so much less stressful for me (I am the main cook for my little family of four and we celebrate Christmas day alone - I really want to be present with my kids and not trying to pull off miracles in the kitchen - but yet, I love a special meal). I'm looking for new ideas to try this year. For the past two years I made Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon ahead and froze it for Christmas Eve, and made Smitten Kitchen White Bean Pancetta Pot Pies for Christmas Day (also made ahead and frozen). Both were very successful - froze well, easy to reheat/bake on the holiday, resulting in a low stress day plus enjoyable holiday comfort food. Any new suggestions for similar wintry comfort foods that are special but would work well to make ahead? (Or which would be otherwise low effort on the actual holiday?) Thanks in advance for suggestions!

  • Posted by: Susan
  • December 7, 2015


Niknud December 8, 2015
I would recommend a beef brisket - they always taste waaaay better several days after initial cooking anyway and they freeze beautiful. In fact, I've got my Christmas brisket and ham already to go in the freezer already. That way I can focus on making a truly beautiful salad and fresh rolls the day of and just do the re-heating of the main. Good luck!
Nancy December 8, 2015
I know families get tired of a recipe rotation so predictable they can tell you what they'll be having on Monday all year.
But Christmas seems to be different, and families (or whole cultures) have dishes they repeat and that they love. If you do that, your kids will build associations and memories with those dishes, as FritschKitchen reports for the quiche and monkey bread traditions.
Maybe stick with the Boeuf Bourguignon and White Bean Pot Pies, or find a couple dishes you like better & make them every Christmas until they leave home.
(Then, of course, they'll have something to rebel against...)
TheFritschKitchen December 8, 2015
For Christmas morning, my mom always made quiche the night before. It would go in the oven when we started opening presents and be perfectly done and piping hot as we finished. Similarly, my husband's mom would make monkey bread, let it rise in the fridge overnight and bake it in the morning. We have combined the two traditions now and our Christmas breakfast is truly a fantastic feast.

For dinner, if you want a project a few days before hand, tamales are great. You can make them and freeze them, then steam them for dinner. That is my family's traditional Christmas Eve dinner, with pinto beans made in the slow cooker. Everyone is free to enjoy their day and have a delicious dinner. Potpie is great as well. My favorite pot pie (we call it hug in a mug) is from Pam Anderson (recipe: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/meaty-mains/chicken-potpie-green-apples-cheddar-biscuits/) I actually just made it this last Sunday and we've been happily enjoying leftovers all week. Lastly, a great make ahead meal (although not too elegant) is meatloaf... :)
TheFritschKitchen December 8, 2015
Also - with the tamales, get the kids involved! They are fun to make, set up an assembly line and give every one a job. I have fond memories of being in charge of the olives as a young girl and having grandpa wink at me whenever I sneaked to olives in!
TheFritschKitchen December 8, 2015
*two olives, not to! I need more coffee this morning...
TheFritschKitchen December 8, 2015
*two olives, not to! I need more coffee this morning...
JanetFL December 8, 2015
Thank you for sharing the potpie link - sounds wonderful!
CanadaDan December 7, 2015
There's a short rib Ragu recipe on f52 that is super make-ahead friendly and is one of the best things I've ever had. It's full of porcinis and anchovies for an umami overload I make a double batch several times a year and keep loads of it in my freezer and it defrosts so well. It's definitely a few hours of work but defrost it, cook up some pasta or polenta and you've got a delicious meal. Any braises work well though since they're always better the next day I find. Short ribs and lamb shanks come to mind
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