How to cook Christmas dinner on a tight budget

turkey dinner

Although it’s easy to get carried away in the supermarket, there are plenty of ways to cut corners when it comes to your Christmas dinner. The key to a delicious but inexpensive meal is to decide in advance which areas are most important to you.

Are you the kind of person who needs to buy a huge organic turkey? Or is having top-notch champagne on the table the most important part of your day? Either way, be sensible about your budget, and put your money where you mouth is… literally!

Compare supermarket prices

According to research from On Stride Financial, the cost of the average Christmas food shop is now £129.70 – that’s 10% up from what we spent in 2012. Fortunately, the research also reveals that it pays to shop around, and that the perfect Christmas grocery list can be yours for considerably less.

Supermarkets start to reveal their Christmas deals in November, so take time to compare prices and get the best deals. Once you’ve made your wish list, find the highest quality products at the lowest prices and – although it would be easier to get everything in one place – if you are really cost conscious, spend a morning picking up each deal separately, as far in advance as you can to spread the cost.

Freeze it

Remember your freezer will keep most meat and veg in perfect condition, as long as you freeze quickly after purchase. Just check items for suggested freezer storage times before purchasing in advance. Frozen turkeys are generally cheaper than fresh – but remember to leave enough time for them to thaw.

Avoid temptation

Don’t be tempted to “pop out” for a few extras in the run-up to Christmas. Like shopping at the airport pre-holiday, those harmless additions will soon add up. Instead, thank your lucky stars you’re organised and try not to let the Christmas hype go to your credit card!

Helping hands in the kitchen

Although it’s tempting to try and do everything yourself, Christmas is the one time when everyone feels generous. Take advantage of this Christmas spirit and ask for a little help. Find out what jobs your family might like to do. Cranberry and bread sauce are easy ones for older kids to help you make from scratch (cheaper than shop bought jars and packets), so you can make these in advance then freeze.

Ask early for contributions

If you’re having guests, you can also consider getting them involved. Remember the key to making requests – and getting the answer you want – is to ask early. You can always ask for key food items, such as a Christmas pudding or nice cheese biscuits, instead of gifts.

Downgrade your brands

If you normally stop at the deli counter or the butcher’s for pate, ham and chipolatas, consider buying cheaper products from budget supermarkets – take the wrappers off and no one will know.

Think again about the extras

Do you really need three kinds of special mixed nuts? How many people actually like chutney in your family? Just because you usually buy it, doesn’t mean you have to this year. One good tip is to get savoury snacks from whole food stores where you scoop what you need into “pick and mix” bags – you don’t get the Christmas packaging, but neither do you get the Christmas price tag.