Christmas on a budget

brussels sprouts with lemon and chilli breadcrumbs HERO

Christmas is a magical time of year, but can also be an expensive one. However, when it comes to food, there are plenty of ways to serve up a delicious festive feast without blowing the budget.

The turkey

Just because the turkey is the star of the show, it doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. I spoke to Becky of popular foodie blog, The English Mum, who advised buying a frozen turkey, or a breast joint: “They are often better value and as long as you defrost them carefully, according to the instructions, they’re just as tasty as fresh.” To make it extra delicious she recommends “adding loads of flavour with tasty stuffing and a herb butter to add extra moisture.”

@TescoFood Twitter follower, @LizParkin3 mentioned another handy turkey tip: “If there are only two of you and you don’t want a whole turkey, buy a turkey drumstick. Incredible value for money and tasty.”

The trimmings

Part of what can make the Christmas dinner seem so expensive is all the little extras that go into making it such a spectacular event. There’s lots of ways around spending a lot on the trimmings though, preparing a mouthwatering feast and saving your pennies too.

One great tip is to cook things in advance, this not only saves a lot of stress, but also allows you to buy ingredients gradually rather than in one big splurge. @TescoFood Twitter follower, @Kerney81 recommends, “buy reduced sprouts and carrots the week before the big day. They keep perfectly fine for two weeks in the fridge.”

Becky also has a similar idea with her spuds, “I always prepare my roasties in advance. Boil them until they’re just falling apart [be brave!] cool them before open freezing, then bag them up in the freezer. They can go straight into the hot oil from frozen with a couple of sprigs of rosemary.”

We also have some delicious ideas for giving your vegetables lots of flavour for little cost, like these Brussels sprouts with lemon and chilli breadcrumbs or carrots and parsnips with caraway, lemon and honey. 

Christmas desserts

Even if everyone’s too full after dinner for dessert, festive puddings are still an essential part of keeping the season sweet. When it comes to budgeting for a classic Christmas pudding in particular, Becky says, “a little goes a long way”, while she also recommends a trifle, “it’s really economical to make: try a chocolate version by layering up some sherry soaked chocolate sponge cake with chocolate custard, berry flavoured jelly and whipped cream. Delicious.” 

Budgeting is also a good chance to experiment with alternative desserts, like this different take on classic mince pies, transforming them into mincemeat and cranberry puff swirls instead.

Get creative

Although Christmas can be a daunting time of year due to the cost of everything, it should be an enjoyable, happy holiday at its heart. Instead of feeling pressure to spend lots of money on food and drinks, be a little creative with your methods of preparation instead.

Just because you might be spending less on ingredients doesn’t mean they need to taste any less delicious. For example, Becky mentions that when it comes to cranberry sauce, adding “a splash of port and the juice and zest of a clementine” make it extra special. A little exotic flavouring can make all the difference.

Oh, and one more thing...

Inviting guests over? Ask them to bring something with them!

We’re keen to hear your top tips for cooking Christmas dinner on a budget, so please share them in the comments box below.

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