The annual food shop storage crisis rears its head every Christmas - a combination of buying ahead and numerous big meals mean that even the most organised kitchen starts to groan under the pressure of endless bagfuls. Fear not, help is at hand...
If you’re feeding a bunch of hungry carnivores, you probably need to get a big turkey, sausages, sausagemeat, bacon and possibly a gammon into the fridge. Meat should always be kept on the bottom shelf. Take the shelf above out of your fridge and pop in the bird. Pile the rest of the meat in a dish next to it.
Root vegetables, sprouts, cabbages and potatoes will be perfectly fine out of the fridge. Stick them in a vegetable rack or pop them in a box in the hall cupboard. Leafy veg don’t fair as well so if you do happen to have spinach or salad leaves, keep them in the vegetable drawer.
Dairy should be stored on the top shelf of your fridge (or in the door for larger bottles). This said, milk, eggs and cream can pick up strong flavours so keep cheese well sealed in a plastic container and store it on a different shelf – make sure it's safe from raw foods that might cross-contaminate.
Cooked food conundrum
Again, keep cooked food - ham, cold meats and sauces - away from raw foods, don’t let them get mixed up with foods that need cooking; storing them above raw meat and uncooked vegetables is best.
If you’ve prepared dishes ahead of time like braised red cabbage, gravy, cranberry sauce and bread sauce – you will need to keep these in the fridge. To save space, once cooked and cooled, transfer to freezer bags. Sit them carefully upright in the fridge, nestled together, preferably on a tray.
If you’ve peeled potatoes, you can pop them in a pan, cover with cold water and leave them until you’re ready to start cooking. Peeled carrots and parsnips can have the same treatment.
Put trimmed sprouts and beans in a sealed freezer bag and put them in the fridge.
Christmas pudding does not need to be in the fridge but trifle definitely does. Cover it well and keep it away from strong-smelling foods. Make sure there’s no chance of other foods (particularly raw ones) dripping on top.
Baby, it’s cold outside!
If the temperature is less than 5C, outside is a great place to keep food, particularly anything big or smelly! You’ll need to make sure it’s well wrapped and it should be in a shed, picnic box or sealed container.
If you're weighing up what takes priority in the fridge then unfortunately it has to be food every time. The good news is that you can get your turkey out of the freezer up to 2 hours before cooking so this will give you a big chunk of space to get the drinks in and chilling.
If you’re buying well in advance, think about freezing the food you don’t need straightaway, check pack instructions to see what you can freeze and take a look at our Christmas freezer guide. This will buy you some space in the rest of your kitchen and ensure freshness.
Most of its contents will probably head out the fridge door on Christmas Day but then leftovers will need to find their way back. Once served, food should ideally be cooled and returned to the fridge within 90 minutes. Don’t leave leftovers hanging around all afternoon, they may not be safe to eat later. The Food Standards Agency suggests eating your leftovers for up to two days. If you think yours may go on longer, freeze a few portions straightaway rather than leaving it until you’ve reached the two-day threshold.
For more ideas, take a look at our year-round feature on what to store where in your kitchen.
Visit the NHS Livewell website if you'd like to know more about food hygeine and how to store food safely.