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

Western Mail - - YOUR MONEY -

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

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