The Sunday Post (Inverness)

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For many families, Christmas is one of the few times of the year when all loved ones are gathered around the table.

But while it’s great to get everyone together, those hosting a big gathering may be a little worried about the cost of having so many mouths to feed.

Around a quarter of households’ Christmas spending will go on food and drink, research from Go-compare Money suggests.

With a few weeks still to go though, it’s not too late to start planning and thinking ahead about ways to help cut the cost of the festive feast, rather than panic-buying at the last minute. Here are some tips from Myvoucherc­ spokespers­on Anders Nilsson, for cutting the cost of Christmas dinner...

Make the most of bargains and yellow stickers

While you’ve still got some time, have a browse around the supermarke­ts to buy reduced items, particular­ly if you’re able to make use of items by putting them in the freezer for a few weeks so they’ll be at hand when you need them.

Plan buying any meat in advance

In the run-up to Christmas, many people will be shopping for turkey, chicken, gammon and beef – potentiall­y leaving some shoppers struggling to get the bird or joint they want, and finding themselves limited to what’s left.

But if you’re planning to freeze your meat, you could buy it further in advance and have your choice of what’s available, and buy in the sizes that you need. Just ensure you have the space in your freezer to store it. Another option could be to find out from your local butcher or supermarke­t if they will take orders in advance that you can collect closer to Christmas.

Consider alternativ­es to turkey

While many people have a big, traditiona­l turkey in mind, if you don’t think you’re going to eat your way through it all (or, if you’re really honest, none of you even like it that much) then an alternativ­e option, such as a chicken, could work out less expensive.

Get your hands dirty

Instead of buying pre-sliced veg and microwave veg packs, get stuck in – peel and chop your own potatoes, slice your own veg and only use what you need. If you’ve got all the family round, there will be more people there to help out!

Likewise, don’t buy pre-made pigs in blankets, stuffing and all the other extras you like with your Christmas dinner. Buy the ingredient­s and spend a little time making them from scratch.

Only use what you need

It’s so easy to go overboard and cook enough to feed a small army but by doing this it’s likely that a lot of food will go to waste. If people are still hungry afterwards, there’s likely to be plenty of other snacks and food in the kitchen.

Ask guests to bring a dish

If you’re entertaini­ng others at your home for Christmas, you could ask guests to help out a bit by bringing drinks, crackers, or even preparing a dish or two if they live nearby. Be sure to decide ahead of time who’s preparing what dish.

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