Family having christmas meal at home

How to host Christmas on a budget

Planning is key to serving up a festive spread to be proud of

We probably already know that meal planning is a great way of keeping our food spend under control – and the same goes for Christmas.

Cutting back on our Christmas dinner is probably not something many of us want to do, but there are still ways we can make sure we don’t overspend. All it takes is a little forward-planning and setting a budget.

We should keep in mind that supermarkets will start changing their stock very soon, often switching in bumper packs of things like nuts and sweets in place of a more budget-friendly packet to make us spend more. If we don’t think we need the extra, we could think about beating the supermarkets at their own game and refusing to bite.

Covid restrictions permitting, we might have guests to stay for a couple of nights over the holidays. That means extra mouths to feed at all mealtimes, not just Christmas dinner. So as soon as we know who’s coming we need to start meal planning.

When we’ve worked out how many extra meals we’ll be serving up, we can start shopping early to spread the cost – even if it’s just a few extra boxes of cereal to stash away or some lunch ingredients to stick in the freezer.

We should stick to things that will last though, and which we could still enjoy in January. It’s easy to get carried away with things like cheese but even if it lasts beyond Christmas we might not want it in the new year. So best to buy these things in small amounts.

Then we need to think about the main event – Christmas dinner. Do we really need the hassle and expense of a fancy spread when a simple and inexpensive one will taste just as good?

A frozen turkey can be bought any time we see one that suits our budget – we can find one for less than £15 (or a turkey crown will be cheaper). If we’re adding stuffing and gravy, no one’s going to realise it cost us a fraction of what we could have paid.

And we shouldn’t fall into the trap of going to a more expensive supermarket just because it’s Christmas. If anything, feeding more people than normal means we should be extra savvy about where we shop. Spuds are spuds after all!

In the run up to December, there are festive recipes everywhere. If we’re careful not to get sucked in to cooking more extras than we need, all these ideas can really help us to maximise our spend. 

If we have ingredients in mind that suit our pocket and our tastes, there’s bound to be a recipe out there to give it the wow factor. Check out the BBC’s Good Food website for ideas, or Love Food, Hate Waste for how to get the most out of leftovers or staples.

Cooking from scratch will also work out much cheaper than buying things like pre-prepared veg. It’s another reason why planning ahead with shopping and recipes can pay dividends.
See here for more tips on coping with Christmas.

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