Have Yourself A Merry Budget Christmas: Christmas Dinner

Monday, 3 December 2012

Do you dream of making the perfect Christmas dinner but find the ingredients are far too expensive? Do you want to make a great Christmas roast with money left over at the end of it? It seems unlikely with £30 turkeys, amazing side dishes on Pinterest racking up notes for one dish and banners proclaiming the latest 'must-haves' but I have done it and continue to do it so I thought I'd share some of my tips.

The turkey doesn't have to cost the earth
Iceland have great frozen turkeys for under £10 as do most supermarkets if you're willing to compromise on size. A turkey crown can be bought for £6-8 and can feed four with some easily left over to throw into a curry, stir fry or sandwich. While a big turkey looks impressive, even the £20 ones can be dry. I would always say go to your local butcher for a good turkey but sometimes the budget doesn't quite allow it.

Side dishes are just vegetables.
Have you seen those beautiful side dishes laid out perfectly on tables in photos? Simple vegetables for the most part. It doesn't matter whether you're using frozen mixed vegetables for 80p a pack from ASDA (just as nice, I promise and healthier than fresh) or fresh loose vegetables you pay triple the price for. You can spruce up any vegetable by roasting parsnips as you would potatoes in oil, adding rosemary and thyme (dried pots of this you can pick up for around £1 each in supermarkets) or other herbs of your choice or sprinkling a handful of warm cashew nuts over sprouts - it can all be achieved with amazing taste and at a budget cost.

Desserts can be cheap too
Iceland. I will say it again. Iceland. From apple pies for £1 to huge gateauxs for £3, Iceland is the place to buy desserts. You can add cream, drizzling sauce, custard, ice cream, brandy sauce - anything your heart desires but unless you're making a batch of desserts Iceland have you beat on price for even homemade and taste rather decent.

Because no meal is complete without a drink
Alcohol can be expensive but if you're willing to abstain from the named brands you can buy them much cheaper. ASDA Value vodka (£7 a litre) is a brilliant base for most cocktails, as is their rum and gin. It's not fantastic tasting but added in with other ingredients you would never be able to tell the difference. B&M Bargains, Home Bargains and ALDI have fantastic irish cream (Baileys) for £5-8 in the same size bottle as real Baileys who charge double. Wine is tricky as some people are picky but if you mix a cheap wine with lemonade it lasts twice as long and tastes much better. Also, big supermarkets usually have deals on 1 litre bottles of spirits at this time of year on a £15 or 2 for £20 deal so don't feel you have to miss out on your favourite drinks because you're trying to do Christmas cheaply.

These are all simple tips but you'd be surprised how many people have been surprised when I've mentioned these and didn't know that they could make a whole dinner for half as much as they had estimated. If it helps one person, it will be a success.

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