Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Food

Christmas Crackers

The Food!

Now Christmas isn't Christmas without a good nosh up I'll admit that! I love a well cooked Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, but you know what's coming - I don't like what it can cost.
christmas dinner

However do not dismay. I am not about to pour cold water all over the upcoming festivities. On the contrary, I want to bring reasurrance that we can still enjoy  ourselves, but not overspend. There are ways to enjoy your food over this festive period without going overboard and ending up spending way too much and throwing out far too many leftovers.

 Over the past few years I have cut back more and more with regard to how we approach the festive period and I can honestly say it has not made it any the less enjoyable. I have said it before and I stand by it - We work hard for our money and although we are in a fortunate position now of not being hard up, I don't want to waste what we do have to spend. 

You can almost see the pound signs appearing in the eyes of retailers as Christmas approaches and I am sure months of planning have gone into how best to maximise their profit during this time of year. Now, I am not against people making a living, particularly the smaller traders, who are pricing their products honesty and fairly, but are still being suffocated by the larger Supermarkets. However, I do resent having every spare penny  I own squeezed out of me until there is nothing left. I like to start the New Year with money in my pocket, not that feeling of having spent too much.

So, here are my suggestions to keep the food budget in check over Christmas and some ideas of how to minimise the cost of the Christmas dinner.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! Plan what you can ahead of time so you can decide where and how you are going to spend your money.
  • Write a food shopping list. Take 10 items off.( Yes I did say that!)
  • Do not 'panic buy' huge quantities of food. The supermarkets are shut for a very small amount of time. You. will. not. run. out. of. food.
  • Write a menu plan for over the Christmas period. Include any entertaining you are doing and set a reasonable budget. Now see if you can cut it by at least 10%. Here are some menu plans and costs  from Tescos Real Food Christmas Challenge 2011
  • Plan what treats you are going to buy. Don't go overboard. Limit your treats - do you really need crisps, peanuts, chocolate, wine, beer, cakes, biscuits, mince pies, endless nibbles..... 
  • If you can't decide let each family member choose one reasonable item.
  • Shop as you would normally. The same store and the same brands - just adding in what you need for your extra entertaining and Christmas meal.
  • Don't be tempted to buy a higher brand or shop at a more expensive supermarket than you would do normally!
  • Wine often works out cheaper if you buy it in a box. The down side of this is you need discipline if you have wine on tap in the fridge! Check out MoneySavingExpert for wine deals and vouchers.
  • Plan a menu for your Christmas dinner and cost it out. 
  • Shop around for the best prices.
  • Check for deals, coupons and vouchers online for supermarkets and local traders to cut your budget further.
  • If you have a smaller family don't buy a whole turkey. Go for the cheaper option of a turkey crown instead.
  • Don't buy pre prepared pigs in blankets and all the trimmings etc. It will be cheaper to make your own.
  • Work out how much food per head you need for the Christmas dinner and buy just enough, not double! It will still be too much!
  • You don't have to stick firmly with tradition. e.g A chicken is cheaper. Do you really need a Christmas pudding if no one eats it etc
  • Look up some tasty, but inexpensive festive recipes to try out.
  • Get visitors to muck in and bring a dish/drink/a box of crackers so you are not providing the whole meal.
  • A homemade soup and rolls with leftovers is a cheap and welcome meal on Boxing day after the indulgence on Christmas Day! Don't feel you have to cook another masterpiece. I love a Christmas sandwich done properly - warm homemade bread, turkey, stuffing, a bit of bacon and slice of sausage, some crunchy salad leaves and a smear of cranberry jelly. YUM.
  • The three day rule - Christmas eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Once these days are over return to your usual menus. This is better for your waistline and your pocket!
  • Freeze any leftovers that can be frozen so you can use them later and not waste them.
  • Make some meals beforehand and freeze them so you aren't left over the Christmas period tired and worn out wondering what to feed your hungry brood. A stock of basic meals like meatballs, lasagne, steak pies and chilli are inexpensive and so useful to have as a back up in the freezer.
  • Get some supermarket own brand ice creams, cones and assorted sprinkles to make some quick and cheap puddings for hungry children.
April 7/2010 Ice cream homage#christmas #sandwich #srs #businesshomemade chicken tortilla soup

Check out my other Christmas Cracker posts:

4.  Christmas Outfits

What advice would you give regarding spending on groceries at Christmas?

*Photos Courtesy of Wylio


  1. Hi Claire! I just focus on the main Christmas meal and the same for Boxing day.... then I make a huge curry on the third day:)The shop is up the road if they want anything else! Hope you are having a good week:)
    ~Anne xx

  2. We just take it as it comes. We're at my mum's on Christmas day and the Grumps mum comes over on the Boxing day but it's not too big an affair and most of the time we don't do turkey - we prefer lamb or beef. Like you say, the shops don't close for that long and people always panic buy or use it as an excuse to have all the goodies they wouldn't normally have. We do have to have sprouts though ... even though only the Grumps likes them. And we buy the smallest Christmas pudding ever for the Grumps because no one else likes that either - too teeth meltingly sweet. I definitely do the last thing with the cheap ice cream treats - I always keep some in the house for the boys and their friends - I can't afford to feed them Haagen Daaz or Ben& Jerrys.

  3. Yes we have the sprouts too! But actually the kids love them and it's me who doesn't - I'm a bad example! Ditto re. Ben and Jerrys - it may taste nice, but the price is ridiculous and mine are equally happy with simple ice cream and sprinkles!!

  4. My big weakness is the Ben & Jerrys Phish Food. I'm so bad that I wait 'til it's half price in our local supermarket (which happens surprisingly often) but then I ruin it all by buying double quantities :)

  5. I'm always careful and write a list way in advance. We have cold meat and mash on boxing day, turkey and sweet leek pie the next day and curry the next, I like to get the most out of a big bird!

    1. The turkey and leek pie sounds a winner!

  6. I'm really going to try my utmost to not go mad with food this year - I've been guilty in past years of trying to provide everyone with whatever they want and it's just not practical or affordable. We have another mini xmas dinner boxing day - my brother on the other hand usually makes a turkey fry curry over at my parents so every scrap of meat is used up one way or another. Your Christmas sandwich sounds wonderful! The box of wine is a great idea but I fear it would be too much temptation for my hubby and with both my brothers home it would be gone in no time! xx

    1. I have done the same in the past - always had everybody here and felt I had to get everything for everybody! Left us reeling with the cost. I think I have something in me that loves to feed people . I don't do it anymore - that has left a few people with their noses put out of joint, but they would turn up without so much of a bottle of wine so I'm not going to worry about that!! Hee hee re the wine. We are the same , I think I am saving then can't work out why it goes so quickly and we need 3 boxes of the damm stuff! Happy Christmas! Waffle Waffle! X

  7. Great post! You and I are so much alike in the way we think about money and how to be frugal. I kinda do the same things as you. The last few years on Christmas eve I cook party sized food/ nibbles, cause we don't actually sit around the table for a meal, we sort of have a party atmosphere, listening to music and playing games and stuff. So that makes it easy for me to just set a buffet of little delicacies and I'm not exhausting myself with cooking as the big meal is on Christmas Day (and I make sure there's lefovers for the next day so I can get some rest, too!) My menu and food lists are ready and some of the shopping is done as I found some early discounts at the grocery store! Yeah!!!

  8. Great post and fantastic advice. Very apt as I've spent the morning preparing, preparing, preparing!! My advice on shopping is to not panic. The shops are only closed for one day and apart from the turkey and ham, there's nothing much else you couldn't borrow from a neighbour or do without. Avril x