Hosting Christmas dinner? Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Worried about producing a festive feast on a budget? VICKY SHAW discovers ways to trim back on the cost of those trimmings
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 of course, those hosting a big Christmas 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 and blowing the budget.
Here are some tips 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 put them in the freezer for a few weeks so they’ll be readily available when you need them, advises Anders Nilsson from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk
CONSIDER THE BUDGET SUPERMARKETS FOR A CHANGE
WEDDED to Waitrose? Why not try budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl which always score highly in consumer blind taste tests at Christmas. We tested all the supermarkets’ Christmas puddings and Lidl got the top five-star rating with Aldi not far behind with four stars.
WRITE A LIST
MAKE a shopping list and work out portions before you hit the shops to avoid food waste.
A 2-2.5kg turkey crown will feed six, a 3-4.5kg small turkey six to eight, whereas a medium bird weighing 4-6kg will be enough for eight to 10 people.
If your budget is tight, you can have bigger portions of pigs-in-blankets, stuffing balls and vegetables. Plan to serve per person 225g-250g of roast potatoes, two or three stuffing balls, 80g each of Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips, two or three pigs-in-blankets, 120ml of gravy and 25g of cranberry sauce.
CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TO TURKEY
MANY people have a big, traditional turkey in mind when picturing their perfect Christmas.
But an alternative option, such as a chicken, could work out less expensive (and easier to cook!).
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.
MAKE THE MOST OF LEFTOVERS
IT’S so easy to go overboard and cook enough to feed a small army at Christmas, but by doing this it’s likely that a lot of food will go to waste. To avoid throwing expensive leftover meat into the bin, use it to make a curry or pie and freeze. You can always make a stock or soup
from the bones too.
LOOK OUT FOR DISCOUNTS ON AN ONLINE FOOD SHOP
MANY of the supermarkets offer incentives to first-time online shoppers. Ocado is currently offering 25% off your first shop with a minimum spend of £60.
ASK GUESTS TO BRING A DISH
IF you’re entertaining others at your home, you could ask guests to help out a bit by bringing drinks, crackers, or even preparing a dish or two if they live nearby.
This may seem a more agreeable option for some, than asking guests to make contributions to the cost of Christmas dinner in cold, hard cash.
Just be sure to decide ahead of time who’s preparing what dish, so you don’t end up with three bowls of roast potatoes and no other veg.
AHEAD OF NEXT CHRISTMAS, CONSIDER GROWING YOUR OWN
WHILE it’s too late in the year to start growing your own veg for the table now, you could always get a head-start on next year and start working on your own small vegetable patch.
With some forward planning, you can create a wonderful family feast even if you are on a budget
Write a shopping list and stick to it
Ask guests to bring a bottle
Make the most of bargains