ASDA look at the evolution of the Christmas dinner

lamb asda christmas

The evolution of the Christmas dinner: Past, Present and Future

We recently attended a webinar with ASDA about the evolution of the Christmas dinner from the emergence of Brussels Sprouts to the larger part that vegan foods now play in the festive food offering.  Here’s a look back at what Christmas Dinner has been, is and could become.

The panel discussing this included:

Jo Johnson – Head of Own Brand Innovation at Asda
Dr Morgaine Gaye – Food Futurologist
Dr Annie Gray – Food Historian
Adam Shaw – Trained Chef and Family Cooking Specialist

Candied Pigs in Blankets


Asda teamed up with Food Historian, Dr Annie Gray, to uncover how traditions have helped shape today’s meal.

Dr Annie Gray, Food Historian, comments: “While Christmas 2020 might not be the one we all had planned, drawing parallels from the past can give us a lesson in keeping up the Christmas spirit. As we eagerly anticipate what this festive season will bring, simply taking a look at years gone by will show how Brits before us celebrated the festive season, even in the most challenging of circumstances.”

Even in the depths of war, people made something of the season. Be it cracking open hoarded bottles of beer alongside roast rabbit to decorating Anderson shelters in the 1940s.  Brits always think of Christmas as traditional, but every family has its way of doing things, and foods they could not possibly go without – all tradition is invented.

Did you know that sprouts were unknown before the 1830s?, potatoes were not eaten much before the 1780s and Christmas cake was more of a fruited loaf until the early 18th century.

Top tip no.1 from Asda’s head of trends, Jo Johnson: These are all new-ish Christmas traditions, so don’t be afraid to make new ones this year.

Until the Tudor era, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually meant Twelve Days. Even the Victorians celebrated Twelfth night with a dedicated Twelfth Cake.

Looking at the classic 1930s weekday meal pattern, Brits deliberately cooked something large on a Sunday (such as a meat joint) and ate it in all forms throughout the rest of the week – think of household favourites including Bubble and Squeak, Toad in the Hole and Suet Pudding from leftover lamb.

Top tip no.2 from Asda’s head of trends, Jo Johnson: This Christmas, as budgets are tighter, Brits should take inspiration from the past and use leftovers on Boxing Day and beyond. There are lots of ‘leftover’ recipes available on the Asda Good Living website and new Asda research found that three quarters (74%) of Brits believe food does taste better the next day.

lamb asda christmas


Jo Johnson comments: “Christmas is always the most anticipated time of year, but this year’s festive season may feel a little different for all of us. We recognise that buying habits over the year have changed and customers are much more mindful of their outgoings. From great value and quality food to decorations and gifts with a difference, they’ll find everything they need under one roof at Asda.”

Frozen foods have had a resurgence, with many turning to frozen goods to reduce waste and make budgets stretch further. This year, Asda saw an +82% increase in frozen sales on its website.

Top tip no.3 from Asda’s head of trends, Jo Johnson: As customers become more mindful of their spends and plan further in advance, customers should take advantage of their freezers to keep delicious and convenient food on hand, ready to call upon when needed. You can get an entire frozen Christmas dinner at Asda including product highlights such as our Stuffed Turkey Breast Joint with Bacon and Gingerbread Cheesecake, taking the time out of preparation and giving customers back time to spend with their family.

Top tip no.4 from Asda’s head of trends, Jo Johnson: For Christmas cooks looking to cut back time spent in the kitchen, try quality frozen or quick-cook products. From a one-hour cook turkey (Extra Special Easy Carve Turkey Centerpiece) to party food that cooks straight from the freezer (Oriental Vegan Selection), Asda has thought of all the time-saving hacks so customers can relax and enjoy the day.

The rise of veganism shows no sign of slowing down, with many shoppers focusing more on their health and wellness and in turn adopting a plant-based diet – meat consumption is set to half by 2030.

Vegan searches on have increased by +275% compared to 2019, and with 48 new vegan Christmas lines on offer, we’re headed to a greener Christmas than ever before.

Extra Special Bao-Buns


Food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye has partnered with Asda to share a look into the future and confirm pioneering insight into festive food habits of Christmas 2030.

Dr Morgaine Gaye, Food Futurologist, comments: “For hundreds of years, we’ve never been in a time like this where we are changing everything we think, believe and know as a species. 2020 has provided a unique opportunity to look into the future of Christmas and how our seasonal habits and rituals will evolve in years to come.”

Air could be used to create multi-textural desserts with plenty of experiential involvement such as building, or deconstructing, personalising, lighting and revealing. We’ll also be serving up treats via olfactory senses, think Christmas pudding and mince pie vapours.

In years to come, our table settings will be a mix of home-crafted cutlery and plates with fun, edible dine-wear – less waste and festive fun in one!

By 2030, everything we eat will be much more nutrition-based, as we will each understand our DNA and gut microbiome. Our Christmas dinner will be tailored to each person based upon your DNA and dietary requirements that day.

Family and friends will scan their device at local shopping walls, connected to their shopping screen. Bespoke Christmas dinner, for all!

As 2030 approaches we’ll be integrating with the natural world on all levels, including seasonal dine wear and Christmas menus – from petals in our pastry to ‘Green Man’ mince pies and floral bowls, everything will have a natural feel.  Mushrooms, lichen, shrubs, weeds, wild foods and healing herbs will find their way onto our Christmas dinner plates in 10 years. Some of which will be refashioned into delicious savoury dishes such as lichen-based Yorkshires and mushroom meat joints.

Dr Morgaine Gaye adds: “Christmas of the future will incorporate our individuality, our wellbeing and the health of the planet, much more than we currently see. Our traditions will shift but we will still want to gather, share, connect and celebrate, only we’ll do it a little more consciously.

The trends for indulgence and fun start to look slightly different, but we will enjoy them! And the accessibility of technology within the home to assist us with our environmental, health, shopping and family needs will be at hand, making Christmas much less stressful.”



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Glasgow Foodie
Glasgow Foodie

Mrs Foodie aka Emma loves to snuggle with Fred and Cleo, sleep and read.

Can be found with gin or a pint in hand.

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