Think ahead and carefully stock your fridge or freezer so that you're ready if some unexpected vistors arrive on your doorstep.

You’ve planned your meals for the main events this Christmas, but it’s worth giving some thought to having a few standby meals lined up just in case you get some unexpected visitors. Aside from cold turkey and ham, the odd mince pie left lurking on a plate, why not fall back onto a carefully stocked fridge, freezer and larder. We’ve chosen some producers and suppliers who can be relied upon to come up with a delectable selection of food to tempt the palate. Even better, the food on these sites will either have a good shelf or fridge life, or can be popped in the freezer and brought out as and when needed.


Ready meals of old were ghastly. Do you remember? Well, ditch that memory and discover COOK Food, our go-to website when hosting or feeling frazzled. In 1997, Edward Perry and Dale Penfold founded COOK Food with the premise of trying to cook and sell frozen ready meals that would be made like you would at home. We can vouch personally for their recipes (especially their beef bourguignon and chocolate roulade). Every dish is prepared by hand so they look and taste homemade. For savvy hosts and frazzled families, COOK Food is a most welcome addition to their online shopping list.


A past GWG Awards shortlisted site and a long term favourite, Forman & Field has a number of areas covered in the gourmet stakes from smoked salmon, gravadlax, cheese, through to canapes and ready meals. Top up on potted lobster or potted shrimps with infused clarified butter to serve on toast as a light supper. The salmon goujons or fish cakes with proper chunks of fish are good standbys, whilst you'll find a selection of delicious looking desserts, including the Valrhona Chocolate and Salted Caramel Parfait.


Specialising in smoked fish and meat, you'll find the Christmas essential, smoked salmon, but this year, why not buy in some smoked chicken breast or smoked Gressingham duck to serve alongside a zingy salad. The smoked whole boned quail is lightly cured and gently oak-smoked to enhance its delicate game flavour. Great for serving on a cold meats platter or as a starter. You can also order smoked bacon and ham.


Not surprisingly it's all about pâté at Patchwork. Tried and tested, these pâtés are delicious with full on chicken liver pate, in a variety of flavours (a favourite is Cointreau and Orange), game liver pâté as well as fish pâté. These can be kept in the freezer, defrosted and then served with crusty bread or on biscuits. You'll also find a selection of savoury tarts. The company has recently moved into grown up ice creams that are flavoured with alcohol, Calvados Soaked Apple Ice Cream with Calvados Caramel Ripple sounds tempting.


Donald Russell supplies meat and poultry to H.M. The Queen and can be relied upon for its quality cuts, ready meals and pies. It also sells fish cakes, and not forgetting, its legendary steak and venison burgers. The line of puddings look tempting too but our top marks go to the Special Bread Selection, a box of six artisanal loaves that are part baked. All you need do is bake from frozen, which takes thirty minutes and you'll have the most perfect bread.


Known for its fine cheeses, this company has been a purveyor of cheese since 1797. You can buy a superb selection of cheese online, alongside chutneys and cheese biscuits. The pots of Cheddar Cheese Rarebit as well as Stilton with Tawny Port Rarebit caught our eye as the perfect solution for sneaky midnight feasts.


If you're cooking for a crowd and want to make life easy on the pudding front, why not choose a cheesecake from this company. Flavours include the popular Millionaire's Caramel Shortbread or Cookies & Cream, alongside more fruity numbers, Strawberry Shortbread and Raspberry Split to full on chocolate with Charlie's Original Factory Fudge Cake. There are Christmas flavoured ones too, all of which are available in a number of sizes, from individual ones (Cheesecake Minis has twelve in a box, each in a different flavour), to the eight inch that serves twelve to a whopping cheesecake that feeds sixty. The range now includes Cheesecake Cupcakes which have moist vanilla or chocolate sponge cake bases topped off with cheesecake frosting. Cheesecakes are delivered frozen.


Truly delicious fruit cakes in different variations and sizes made in Shropshire by this family-run company. Quality, taste and presentation all get top marks with the range of eleven types of fruit cake. The assorted mini cakes, including the mini Christmas one, you can even cater for tea for one. There are of course family sized cakes but don't bet on them hanging around for long.

Updated November 2017