The sad reality of a Manchester student’s Christmas dinner

We made it so you don’t have to (believe me you don’t want to)

Picture the scene. The sink is full of washing up and emanating a smell similar to that of the communal bins on Egerton Road. You’ve got 3 saucepans between your whole house, one doesn’t have a handle and one has taken up a position as a full time rodent exterminator. No one you live with has ever been responsible for the craft which it takes to make a good roast dinner before.

But you decide that engaging in a Christmas dinner as a flat or house is a good idea. It brings everyone together, and some even get to experience the sight, possibly even the taste of a vegetable for the first time since reading week. However, it is not this easy. There is a fine art which goes into perfect roasties, and veg which isn’t half raw.

There is also a massive cost implication which comes into this. £170 from UoM or not, buying the Waitrose finest ‘No.1 Free Range British Pork Hog Roast with Sage & Onion Stuffing and Apple Sauce’ which your South-London, my Daddy is a hedge fund manager housemate is used to won’t exactly cut it when you don’t have £41 to spend, or when you don’t have an aga. Does anyone even know what to do with it when it’s out the box? 

We tried it so you don’t have to. Believe me, you better have strong relationships if you’re willing to. We almost had to decide who gets custody of the shared milk it went so badly. Here is my guide, and the reality of a Fallowfield made, Christmas dinner. (FYI, 256 is doing a 3 course Christmas dinner for £16.95, before you get the Nectar Card out.)

Stage 1: Shopping

This is the beginning of the chaos. Arguments brew about what will make the plate. Who doesn’t like parsnips now? We’re adults. You need to grow up. However, I draw the line at sprouts. Get them straight out of my basket. There’s deliberation over the meat based products. The carnivores and the veggies split off.

There’s obviously an argument about who’s paying. The ‘Monzo me’ links are flying out left right and centre and you’re certain that £17 each is steep. I know that Fallowfield Sainsbury’s is expensive, but this really puts the crisis in Cost of Living crisis. Someone is complaining about having to pay the same because they are doing most of the cooking and someone has suggested a meal at Fallowfield’s finest dining establishment (Fallow Maccies none the less) and letting it all blow over. I’m convinced we should just have a Chester’s like last year.

Stage 2: The prep

Someone is already too scuppered to be trusted anywhere near the kitchen, a cowards way out. You’ve opened the cupboards to realise that you literally own no kitchen equipment. The methods shown on BBC Good Food have gone out the window since you don’t own a peeler, a masher or a steamer.

You realise you’ve cocked up when only one hob really gives off a proper flame. It’s already giving soggy. You’ve realised that you don’t own a peeler, because why would you when everything you usually eat either comes out of the freezer or arrives at the door. You’ve decided to opt for sausages over a turkey in the end, because you can’t give everyone food poisoning as easily. The google search of ‘can I make a whole Christmas dinner in an air-fryer?’ is your top suggested search.

Potatoes, carrots and parsnips are peeled, and have halved in size since you’ve have to do the peeling with a knife. Someone has forgotten to preheat the oven and blue murder is being screamed. You’ve already messed up the timing and it really isn’t looking good.

Stage 3: Ready, steady, cook

BBC good food is your best friend at this point. You’ve worked out how to honey roast your veg (cheers Google) and the potatoes are part-boiled. The biggest tip here is just to cover everything in as much oil, honey, salt and whatever seasoning you find in your housemates cupboard. 

Stage 4: Can somebody smell burning?

Your housemate keeps asking “is it ready yet”, even though he’s already opened the oven 4 times. No wonder the roast potatoes could still be sold in the Sainsbury’s freezers. At this point the timing is about as accurate as the stagecoach app, and the tension could be cut with the very blunt knife you used to chop up the carrots. Someone’s forgot the Yorkshire puddings, but apparently this job wasn’t assigned (it was).

The sink is completely full of pots and pans already, someone’s leant on the dial of the oven and everyone’s asking “can somebody smell burning?”. I swear to God if the veg is ruined………..

Stage 5: Where the fuck are all the forks?


Stage 6: Carnage

Everything has just about made it onto the table. Burnt bits have been scraped off. You’ve used every bowl, plate, saucepan to contain it before the plating up begins. If one more person eats it while transferring it to the table then there will be nothing but the Moretti glass of gravy left to go on the table.

Literal depiction of your mums favourite phrase ‘God, it’s like feeding time at the zoo’ is before you. Food is inhaled quicker than you can all take your seats and only the more controversial items aren’t gone in the first 5 minutes (we’re talking cauliflower cheese and parsnips- again if people matured they’d realise these are both top tier scran.)

So, after all this, while in a food coma and wondering if you’ve dodged food poisoning, we are left with one final thought. When are they opening a Toby Carvery in Fallowfield?

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