How to Cook Christmas Dinner on a BudgetDisclosure: This post may contain affiliate links
Tight budget? No worries! Cook a delicious a festive family feast for less with our money saving tips! The average Christmas dinner costs around £10 - 20 per head which is steep, and although it is a special meal indeed, it doesn't need to break the bank - It's easy to keep your budget in check with the right changes.
Saving Money at Christmas in general is really important, as you have to find money for presents, decorations, outings and all the other expenses that come with the season, so keeping your festive feast as cheap as possible is important.
I am absolutely crazy about Christmas and I really do have to reign myself in as it can get very costly indeed, so here's 10 great tried and tested ways to save money on your Christmas Dinner without compromising on quality, taste or abundance...
1 - Create a Budget
The very first thing you want to do is work out how many guests you have coming and how much realistically you can afford to spend per head. This Free Meal Plan & Grocery Budget Template can help you with creating your budget. Once you have worked out your budget - make sure you stick to it!
2 - Make a list (and check it twice)
Once you have created your budget, start writing down everything you will need, including your starters, drinks and dessert as well as the main dinner items. That way you can do a fake online shop to see how close you come in on budget, then you can see where you need to cut corners. You can also mark items off the list as you buy them - remember to jot down a running total.
3 - Start a Kitty
My budget is around £150 which includes all the food and drink I need for Christmas day for a family of 8. I have a bank account entitled "Christmas 2019" and I transfer £3 per week starting from the first week in January. This way I don't even notice the money going out of the account and by Christmas week I have it there ready and waiting. It's also good for when I spot reduced items throughout the year that I can grab to pop in the freezer - the cash is ready!
4 - Split The Cost
If you have friends/family over for Christmas, ask them all to contribute. I have two sets of friends over every year (over 20 of us in total) and they both put £3 each in the savings account in January. So we have more than enough to buy all the food, soft drinks and alcohol for the days celebrations. Some people get offended if you ask for contributions, but they're the type of people you definitely don't need in your life.
5 - Ask For Contributions
If you don't want or feel uncomfortable asking for a cash contribution, you could ask them for food contributions. I would certainly start by telling them to bring their own alcohol and maybe someone could buy the turkey, or bring a dessert. It all helps to keep the costs down for the host and people generally don't mind - we all know how expensive Christmas is.
6 - Buy Early
By shopping in advance you can pick up bits and bobs you need when they're on offer and won’t notice the extra few £££s on your weekly shop. This way is far better as you can only buy things that are reduced (and freezable) and won't have the shock of paying for it all in one go just before Christmas.
7 - Peel Your Vegetables
It can be tempting to buy the bags of ready peeled, ready chopped vegetables, especially when cooking for a lot of people but these pre-cut veggies cost a whopping 60-70% more than buying loose (unprepared) veg.
8 - Less Meat - More Sides
Most supermarkets now have a 'Veg war' at Christmas time and it means shoppers can now buy festive veggies for pennies. Supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl do a selection of 29p vegetables - shop around and easily get every veg you need in abundance for hardly anything. You can then bulk up the dinner with these rather than the more expensive options such as meat and pigs in blankets.
9 - GET A FROZEN TURKEY
Don't be a turkey and buy frozen! The price difference between a fresh and frozen turkey of the same weight is over 50% cheaper and let's face it, they both taste the same as long it's cooked to perfection - plus if your gravy is also delicious it helps. You could even ditch the turkey altogether and opt for a large chicken to save a few £££s - I'm sure no one would notice!
10 - Borrow What You Can
Having a beautiful, matching table can be costly if you need to by extra items to make them match, try asking around to see if you can borrow a few extra plates or champagne flutes off friends/family who might not need them that day. Post the request on your social media pages, you might be surprised who has matching items.
11 - Make Your Own Table Decorations
Instead of buying a costly centerpiece why not take the kids out to find some pine cones, spray them with some fake snow and a sprinkle of glitter and place them in a bowl, they will look great on the table and the kids will be so pleased you are using their artwork.
You might like: 10 Free (or low cost) Christmas Activities for Kids
12 - Shop Savvy
When it comes to your supermarket shop, make sure you avoid stores such as Sainsbury's and Waitrose that can be up to 25% more expensive than the likes of Tesco and Asda. You can save even more if you shop at budget supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi - or even better, shop at them all, choosing the offers only at each store to make the most of your budget.
13 - Make Your Own Gravy
This should go without saying, but when you're cooking a full roast dinner, 90% of the gravy's ingredients are there at your disposal. Take advantage of the fat from the meat, the water from the vegetables and all you need to purchase (if you don't already have it in your cupboard) is some flour and a few oxos.
14 - Swap Champagne for Bucks Fizz
As far as Champagne and wines for the table are concerned, you don’t need to buy expensive champagne for your guests or even to make the Bucks Fizz – a cheap sparkling white wine is acceptable. You can even buy ready made bottles of Bucks Fizz in local supermarkets for as little as £2.50 per bottle.
15 - Do it Buffet Style
By letting everyone serve themselves, not only are you making it easier on yourself but you are not serving up too much or items that people won't eat. Everyone knows what they like more of and less of, so by providing a carvery style meal, you're increasing the chances of leftovers (which is a good thing)
16 - Use the Leftovers
If you box up and save the leftovers, rather than throw it all in the bin, you’ll have made savings by having a free tea or lunch the next day. The meat can be used for a curry or sandwiches at tea time when your guests are peckish, or you can even box up some roasts for another day.
17 - Don't go Crackers
No Christmas dinner table is complete without Christmas crackers! Some are really expensive and no one ever keeps the stuff inside, so opt for a cheaper box from home bargains or B&Ms - a 12 pack of luxury full-size crackers costs just £2.99 and you can get them in a variety of colours to suit your table theme.
18 - Buy Surplus & Short-dated Food
Check out Approved Food to see what items they have in stock that can be used for your Christmas feast. The website sells food at a reduced price because it’s surplus or near or just past it’s sell by date.
19 - Mask Your Mince Pies
For dessert, instead of a fancy gateaux, why not try out a festive platter? You can pick up value mince pies for around 50p per pack and once laid out on a tray, who's to know they are value? There's plenty of other platter type desserts you can put on the platter, particularly in Iceland that are less than £1. Decorate the platter with a sprig of holly or a few of those pine cones the kids made and it will look great!
You might also like: How to Food Shop Cheaply & Get Away With It
20 - Coupons & Voucher Codes
You can find coupons in magazines, newspapers and even online, start in January and keep anything you might use for your Christmas roast. You can also get voucher codes for lots of online Grocery Delivery companies, such as Amazon Fresh, Waitrose, Iceland and Morrisons, that offer new customer discounts which will help you save even more cash.
As always, if you know of any other great ways to save money on the years most important 'festive feast', please let us know in the comments below...
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