These make-ahead cookies are perfect for last-minute cookies

It’s not very autumnal, is it? However, the schools are back and the seasons are passing. I’m wary of mentioning that big party in December, but when you’re living on a budget, planning ahead is always top of mind.

With food prices rising, I am aware of my family’s favorite foods that I try to have on hand in December; traditional foods that everyone in the house expects to enjoy during the season. Nor do they need to be “special edition” boxes or trays marked with printed red ribbons. Foods like cereal, chips, and cookies have a long shelf life, so there’s no need to wait to pick up treats. Why not buy them now in increments and keep them in the press for the big day?

Last weekend I did just that and added a box of favorite cereal to the cart and a few extra crisps that I’ll put aside. This week it will be a packet of cookies – not a box – a packet and I will try to continue to do so in the months to come.

By adding just one or two extra items to the shopping list each week, I protect myself from a big bill the third week of December. It’s a time when we’re all in a rush for money, so that makes endless sense.

I also think about what I can do to make thoughtful gifts and treats for friends and family. My column this week is the perfect spoiler so they all know exactly what to expect. I’ve been making homemade treats for a long time. There was the year I knitted individual scarves in the evenings after the kids went to bed, they were appreciated but the 15 I knitted took me so long that I swore to myself never to put on so many pressure. I’m not a natural craftsman although I really enjoy the process and the zen of making things by hand.

Food-related gifts are an easy field to excel in and with minimal time and effort you can have spectacular items adorned with ribbons and tags to share when gift-giving season arrives. .

The time has come when no more berries can fit in the freezer and I can’t face another jam-making session, let alone put the jars of jam in the press. Luckily, there’s another option, which are jars and bottles of homemade berry-infused liquor that can be decanted in December and given as gifts. My recipe is designed for an empty 454g jam jar with a tight lid, something I think everyone has on hand and is ideally timed to match blackberry season. Blackberries are generally free to pick, which will reduce the overall cost of the berry liquor recipe you’ll see in my column this week.

I also share a recipe for cookies to prepare. I tend to keep this dough in the freezer year round. You never know when a cookie emergency will strike and it’s not just limited to holly and gifting season.

Cookies prepared in advance

Keep this dough in the freezer year round for cookie emergencies.

Preparation time

12 minutes


  • 100g softened butter

  • 75g brown sugar (I used light demerara)

  • 1 egg

  • 50g plain flour

  • 50 g rolled oats (oat flakes)

  • 20 g chopped crystallized ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Cream all the ingredients together in a bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer until a stiff paste forms.

  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it into a long sausage shape that’s about as thick as a rolling pin.

  3. Cut the tube into 3 equal pieces.

  4. Wrap each piece in parchment paper, then place in a freezer-safe container (bags or lunch boxes are fine). Put the container in the freezer.

  5. Bake. Take the dough out of the freezer and let it thaw for an hour.

  6. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees before cutting the dough into discs about 2 cm thick.

  7. Bake for 7-8 minutes when cookies should be golden brown. Allow to cool before enjoying or store for up to three days.

  8. Note: This dough will keep a little longer than expected in the freezer due to the “double insulation” of the packaging and then a second bag or box.

Homemade alcohol with berries

It’s perfect for giving as a gift

Homemade alcohol with berries


  1. Fill the jar with berries and sugar stir with a teaspoon so that the berries are coated in sugar. Pour the vodka into the jar until it is near the top. It will take about 150 ml of vodka, maybe a little more or less. Close the jar and seal it tightly with the lid.

  2. Shake the jar gently so that all the ingredients are mixed.

  3. Put the jar in a dark, cool place for 3 days. Every 3 days shake the jar gently and over a period of about a week the sugar will gradually dissolve and the liquid inside will turn dark in color. You can carefully open the lid at any time to check the aroma which should smell like berries inside and alcohol.

  4. When you’re ready to gift, add stickers and ribbons. You can also decant the liquid into a small bottle and save the berries to add to crumbles and pies, or even pour over ice cream.

  5. Note: I recommend a combination of black currants, raspberries and blackberries in the berry liqueur. The type of vodka doesn’t make much difference as it’s going to be infused with the berry flavor, so cheaper the better.

Special offers

SuperValu has 480g of meatballs on special this week for $2.50, which is actually cheaper than buying a pound of ground meat and making your own meatballs for dinner.

For a big fresh Irish chicken, Lidl won’t be beaten this week at a price of €3.99, more than a euro cheaper than any other supermarket. This is a fantastic value for 1.9 kg.

A pack of 7 funsize bananas costs 69c at Aldi, just under 10c per banana, making it a very economical and healthy lunchbox snack.

Money saving tips

Always read the label and special promotions. Dunnes Stores has a new way to save money when shopping in-store or online which they call their ‘Double Savers’ promotion. This involves buying their store discounts and then double the savings using their coupons at checkout.

It’s a great way to draw attention to the potential savings that can be made in-store, although savvy customers have been buying this way for years.

Remember that a cooked and sliced ​​ham fillet at home is much cheaper than buying pre-sliced ​​cooked ham in the supermarket. I’ve covered this before in my column, but it’s worth coming back to as schools return.

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