We’re hurtling towards Christmas and if you are one of those organised sorts, you may have already bought and wrapped your gifts.
So, it’s possible that you have started thinking about The Big Dinner.
Preparing a three-course festive food extravaganza is a complex business. You have to think about everything from stuffing the turkey to how to stop Nan misbehaving with the sherry.
But one thing you don’t want be worrying about is the cost of this one meal. The average British Christmas dinner costs £17 per head. For a family of six that’s £102. On. One. Meal. And that’s without the booze.
If you normally spend that amount on a whole week’s food shopping, Christmas dinner can be a bit of a shock.
Never fear, here is how to do Christmas Dinner on a budget. We show you how you can cut costs at each stage of the Big Dinner without cutting quality and taste. Don’t worry we haven’t gone all Bob Cratchitt – your festive feast will still be wonderful.
Christmas Dinner on a Budget: 7 Ways to Save Money
1. Cook from Scratch
So, you’re shopping, sorting seating and probably re-grouting the bathroom all at the same time. And we come along and tell you get in that kitchen and cook from scratch.
However, cooking your Christmas dinner from scratch will save you a lot of money. Buying pre-prepared dishes are convenient but expensive.
If you are really organised, you can make a lot of the dishes ahead of time. Also, make sure you enlist the help of your family to trim sprouts or baste the bird.
BBC Good Food’s fantastic Christmas dinner planner here can help you get it right
2. Feed the 5,000 with a Cheaper Starter
The traditional smoked salmon starter is a winner around most Christmas dinner tables. However if you have a lot of people coming, smoked salmon can be very expensive. The average cost of even basic smoked salmon is around £2.50 per head.
Why not make a lovely pâté? You can buy smoked salmon trimmings – they cost so much less and make your fish go so much further. Do some toast or bread sticks to go with it and dig in. This starter would cost around 70p per head.
You can find a lovely recipe for smoked salmon pâté here
3. Choose a Cheaper Bird
The turkey is the most expensive part of Christmas dinner and with 10 million ordered last year, it’s still the most popular choice for Brits. Costs vary hugely, from £3 per kilo for a basic supermarket turkey to up to £25 per kilo for a posh bird.
Good Housekeeping recently did a Turkey Test and their winner was Iceland’s Whole Brined Turkey which worked out at around £20 for a whole bird and can feed 8-10 people. Turkey doesn’t have to be posh to be good.
Big bird or little bird? Ironically, buying a bigger bird is sometimes more cost effective. If you are skilled with leftovers you can stretch the turkey to feed your family and guests for up to a week, saving money on the weekly shop in the long run.
Find some great leftovers recipes here. If you aren’t that organised and will end up chucking a lot of it – buy a smaller bird that will feed your guests for Christmas dinner only.
4. Bring us some (cheaper) Figgy Pudding….
Making your own Christmas pudding can be fiddly. Once you’ve bought all the ingredients it probably won’t work out much cheaper than buying one. A great way to enjoy Christmas Dinner on a budget is to buy a low-priced one.
Lidl, Aldi and Asda’s puds have received great reviews and don’t cost much. For instance, Asda’s Extra Special Christmas Pudding recently appeared in the Telegraph’s top 10 puds list and is a snip at £4. That’s just £1 per head for four.
5. Please with Cut Price Cheese
By the time the cheese board comes out most of us have already undone the button on our trousers (combat this with an elastic waistband).
Don’t overbuy on cheese as it often doesn’t get eaten. Everyone just needs a taster of each cheese. So, choose a small piece of Cheddar, Stilton and Brie with some nice crackers. Aldi and Lidl do amazing cheeses for less than Marks and Spencer and Waitrose. They are much cheaper and surprisingly luxurious – what better way to enjoy Christmas Dinner on a budget!
6. Bang for your Bucks Fizz
It’s the most booze-fuelled time of year and alcohol can cost more than the dinner itself. First things first, if you can trust yourself not to drink it all before the big day – buy your wine, beer and spirits NOW. Closer to Christmas the supermarkets will hike up the prices.
Or shop around for the best deals on quaffersoffers. This site tells you what’s cheap and where. You can also find great cut price alcohol at one of the many Bargain Booze shops, check out their website for your nearest branch.
Another great way to enjoy Christmas Dinner on a budget is to buy wine with your Tesco Clubcard vouchers, if you have them.
7. Share the Load
Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. If it’s your turn to host, it’s unfair that all the costs should fall to you as well. Talk to your guests and ask them to buy and prepare either the starter or pudding. And get them all to bring a bottle.
One of the best ways to save money and do Christmas Dinner on a budget is to share the costs. Sharing the cost of the big dinner will take the pressure off your purse.
Your turn – do you have any festive food tips? We’d love to hear from you!
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