HOW TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS WITHIN A BUDGET
To avoid Janu-worry, City Press asked celebrity chef Siba Mtongana and financial journalist Maya Fisher-French for tips on how to enjoy Christmas within a budget
Christmas big spenders
The Nzama family from Nagina, western Durban, are big Christmas spenders. Their average budget for Christmas Day alone is R3 000. It sounds outrageous, but when Wendy Nzama explains where all the money goes, it’s understandable.
The bulk of the Nzamas’ Christmas budget is spent on food. The family believes in cooking up a storm for Christmas. “Over the years we have not cooked the standard rice, curry and salads, but have opted for African cuisine – chicken feet, butternut, samp, beans, sweet potatoes, intestines, oxtail and steamed bread,” Nzama explains.
But this year, the family is doing something different: they are going gourmet. For the main course, it’s a choice between leg of lamb, corned beef, ox tongue or Hong Kong chicken with rice, roasted veggies and baby potatoes.
For dessert, the Nzamas will be having brownies topped with hot custard and stewed fruit or ice cream.
Nzama (33) says Christmas is a big deal for her family because everybody comes together at her grandmother’s house in Nagina.
“My mother, father, aunts, uncles and all our kids celebrate Christmas at my gran’s place. All in all, we are looking at 13 family members, including children – and that’s not counting the neighbours,” she says.
Although more than half of the Christmas budget goes into food, some of it is spent on gifts for the family’s six children. Gifts are a big deal for them and they even use a stokvel to save for them. “We encourage each child to save at least R40 from their allowance every month. By December they have about R500 each in the kitty,” says Nzama.
She estimates that with the gifts and all the extras needed for Christmas, their total budget is about R6 000. She admits that this may be excessive, but “Christmas is special to us because it means a family day and it’s something that happens once a year”.
Mtongana and Fisher-French’s recommendations are still worth considering, says Nzama.
“The tips make sense and they are doable. In these economic times, every cent counts.
“We will consider cutting down on having different kinds of red meat and maybe just have leg of lamb and chicken, so that people have a choice. We will certainly try to withdraw money and carry cash on the day we do our Christmas grocery shopping to avoid buying things that were not on the list.”
Most of us have loads of leftovers the day after Christmas and they can often last for a few days. But if not used or eaten, the food goes to waste