Thursday, 4 December 2008

So how much food do we REALLY need at Christmas?

Just as in England, the French papers are full of full page ads for Christmas food. And probably have been for some weeks. I guess the thinking behind these campaigns is to panic people into getting ahead with their Christmas shopping, keep reminding us of things we think we might need and then assault us with a whole raft of last minute bargains we can’t resist. The net result is that we all buy way, way too much, behaving as if we’re going to be subject to a month-long siege during which we will be unable to get to the shops.

Where I live in Bristol, I suspect I could probably go to my convenience stores on Christmas Day if I chose. Certainly I’ll be able to shop on Boxing Day. True, some ingredients such as fish and fresh vegetables are harder to find between Christmas and the New Year but I’m sure there will be something to eat.

So this year I’m going to make a resolution - to try to end up on January 2nd without my fridge crammed full of food that’s on the verge of going off.

How are you all coping with the non-stop 'spend, spend, spend' bombardment? Any good tips?


Anonymous said...

ANother fab and timely post - thank you! I was trying to figure this one out too, because I realise that Christmas dinner for us is really just a Sunday Roast with a couple of extras and that's all it needs to be.
Instead of trying to be 'all things to all people' I'm really focusing on a small amount of good food this year. It will be a real challenge, but it's all about resisting marketing pester power. We've planned meals as a family which is helping us resist things in the shops.

Anonymous said...

What a good reminder Fiona. Resisting that urge to stock up big over Christmas can be hard - using it as an excuse to eat every single food you love.

We'll be spending Christmas at other peoples' houses, but I'm going to try and whittle down the food we have control over.

Anonymous said...

And thinking about it - our local mini-supermarket will be open Christmas morning at the very least, so we really don't need to stock up big.

Part of my plan this year is to have a normal, light breakfast on Christmas day, and fit in some exercise. So at least one part of the day is normal and will make me feel good.

Fiona Beckett said...

You're both right - it is this pressure to stock up on things we don't normally buy but are made to feel we can't have a good Christmas without that's the problem. It's not so much the turkey which creates excellent leftovers, as the extras - the cheeses, the nuts, the port . . . And the sheer size of Christmas packaging - the extra large packs of smoked salmon, the bumper nets of satsumas and sprouts.

It plays on our desire to give our families the best ever Christmas and make sure they lack for nothing but everyone is so stuffed with food by Boxing Day, it's probably the last thing they want (apart in the case of my kids, from Mum's bubble and squeak without which no Christmas would be complete!)

Anonymous said...

I think a certain amount of selfishness is in order. Part of the media pressure is based upon the ridiculous assumption that we are going to have to cater to scores of friends, family and other assorted hoi pollo during all waking hours, and this induces a form of " not-enough" panic. In reality this is not true, we really will not need to stuff acres of food down a neverending stream of visitors in the manner of someone force feeding a goose. Yes, its nice to have a bit extra handy, but there is no need to go overboard.

Plan the main meals for the holiday and shop accordingly, let every member of your family choose a couple of luxury seasonal indulgencies and keep to that, and if you are going to go a bit OTT with anything, let it be the fresh and dried fruits bowl !

I guess I'm lucky in a way, I can't bear Christmas pudding, heavy fruit cake, mincemeat etc so that's some things crossed off the list already :P

Teri said...

I will do as I always do whatever time of year. I will plan my week's menu to the finest detail of what I will NEED checking my store cupboard as I go. OK we will have a turkey and on boxing day I will probably do a large ham, both of which as you all know leave very usual leftovers which can be frozen. The only indulgence I always allow is smoked salmon for breakfast Xmas day and I will probably make a rich chocolate cheesecake or something similar as we very rarely have desserts.

Career Misfit said...

As things went quite well two years ago when we cooked for half a dozen or so of our friends, last Christmas we decided to host three or four evenings and turn it into a real festival. Not only did we end up buying absurd quantities of duff, pre-done buffet-style food and giving a load away to neighbours (friendly and undeniably in-keeping with the seasonal spirit, but not what was intended), it was stressful for us and not food we were proud to offer, in the end. We'll definitely be scaling things back this year as a result; our strategy so far has been to run down our stocks at the start of the month to avoid the temptation to fill cupboards too early, then agree to share out the cooking with families over Christmas week as we go visiting. I'll do anything to avoid the Christmas Eve supermarket rush: why do so many people suddenly realise at the last minute they have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN, every year?! ;o)

Fiona Beckett said...

Great tips, all! You're so right, Greenlady - the myth is that we all need to stock up 'just in case' but the reality is that we're just as likely to drop round to friends as they are to drop into us.

Personally I'm a fan of the freezer at this time of year. It's worth making a couple of dishes ahead and freezing them then if you don't eat them for Christmas you've got them in January when we all feel hard-up anyway.

Agree with you too on fancy xmas 'nibbles' Career Misfit which are absurdly overpriced. Whatever happened to good old sausages on sticks? And homemade cheese straws which I might feel moved to make this weekend if I can work out how to bake in the AGA.

Anonymous said...

How do I cope with the media mantra of 'spend spend spend'? I don't own a TV, buy the paper on occasion and much prefer listening to music I have chosen myself rather than the radio. In my own little bubble? Yes! and a very happy one it is!

Anonymous said...

If you are in Bristol Wednesday 10 December, the Feral Choir is singing anti-consumerists' carols at the Cube cinema!

This year we have banned Christmas presents (youngest family member is 15). What a relief...and eating and drinking super-indulgently instead.