16 December 2019

As the festive season is now upon us thoughts naturally turn to all things Christmas – and as the big-day approaches there’s nothing better than the thought of having a wonderful Christmas dinner with your family.

But with the sheer amount of food and drink you need to buy for the occasion, getting together everything you need for Christmas dinner can become a costly affair. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips and tricks you can employ to have Christmas dinner on a budget without sacrificing the quality.

1. Buy the Right Amount of food

Sometimes it’s easy to get confused when it comes to estimating the size of your chosen bird or alternative type of meat for the big-day to feed all your guests. As a general rule you should allow for 500g per person when buying your meat option for the meal. Prices of the different meats can vary, but frozen birds or meat options are usually much cheaper than buying fresh. If you’re trying to make Christmas dinner on a budget, you could also add bulk to smaller sized birds with sausage-meat stuffing and extra servings of vegetables.

When shopping for your Christmas meal, make sure to compare the price per kilo of your chosen meat option; so that you’re always buying the most cost-efficient on offer.

Buying your chosen vegetables as loose items tends to be less expensive than bulk packet buys and similarly buying cuts of cheese from the deli rather than pre-cut and pre-packaged options from fridges is also a good idea to save money. Not only is it cheaper, but you can pick the exact number of vegetables or size of cheese you want and prevent unnecessary food waste.

2. Shopping in Advance

In the lead-up to the festive season, why not see if you can pick up bargains and special offers and freeze or store them for cheaper Christmas and New Year meals. This way you can spread your purchases over a couple of months, which is much better than the shock of paying it all in one go in the week before Christmas, especially as you’ll have other expenses to budget for.

Make up a menu plan for the holiday period with a clear idea of what you’re going to cook over a period of days. This may sound like overkill, but it will prevent you buying unneeded items, and it will also ease the inevitable waste that can happen over the festive period as perishable food items go bad and need to be thrown out. Once you have a menu, you can write your shopping list. Do your very best to stick to this list when you’re going through the supermarket aisles and don’t be tempted by special offers or discounts on foodstuffs that you aren’t likely to eat.

3. Making Food from Scratch

With the exception of Christmas pudding (which would be more expensive to make yourself), most of the elements of traditional Christmas food can be made from scratch for much cheaper than their store-bought equivalents.

You can easily make a delicious gravy from the leftover parts of the cooked meat; the giblets, roasting juices, flour and then just adding a stock cube should do the trick. Stuffing for the turkey can be easily made from ingredients you already have in your cupboards; from things like breadcrumbs, onion and herbs. For your vegetables, try to go for fresh produce over pre-cut vegetables, as the pre-made varieties are usually much more expensive. Using fresh and store-bought ingredients is a great way to craft a cheaper yet delicious Christmas dinner.

4. Use up Leftovers

If you’ve already decided on your Christmas menu and have been cautious with your shopping list, you’ll probably already have a good idea for how you can best utilise your leftover food. As well as classic standbys like turkey or chicken curry and sandwiches, you can use leftover potatoes, vegetables and supplementary items like stuffing or pigs in blankets to create cheap additional Christmas period dinners for days without spending a penny.

A quick search online can bring dozens of easy (and tasty) recipes you can make from your leftover foods, and you might find that you can craft a whole meal from something that you’d never even thought about reusing in that way.

5. Find Cheaper Alternatives

There are some things that we all think we can’t live without, that make up your traditional Christmas dinner. However, there are several ways you can replace some of these expensive traditions with cheaper alternatives. For example, you could replace smoked salmon with smoked mackerel, or use salmon trimmings to make a cheap salmon pate. As far as alcohol is concerned, you don’t need to buy expensive champagne to make Bucks Fizz; a sparkling white wine is acceptable too. You could also be on the lookout for special offers and discounts on Moneysavingexpert.com for cheaper food and drink alternatives.

Those were just a few basic tips on how you can enjoy a cheaper Christmas dinner without missing out on anything. For more articles on how you can effectively manage your finances, you can visit the Buffa blog here. And if you’re finding that you’re struggling with your finances, you can visit our Debt Advice Hub here, or see how a Buffa loan can help here.