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Saving money on your Christmas Meal

calendar11 December 2014

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Saving money on your Christmas Meal

Worried about being done up like a Turkey this Christmas Day? It’s probably one of the most expensive meals of the year, but there are lots of ways to keep the costs down whilst still creating a wonderful festive feast. Here’s our ten top CAP Christmas dinner tips to whet your appetite…

1. Set a budget: It’s really easy to get lost in the festive hype and end up buying treats and festive bargains, which you don’t actually need. So be realistic, think about what you actually need, create a budget and then stick to it. Your bank account will thank you in the New Year.

2. Make a menu for the week: Before you go shopping, plan ahead all your meals for the Christmas week. If you have a plan you’re less likely to waste food that you bought on a whim or overspend in the supermarket buying random things not on your list.

3. Be supermarket savvy: There are plenty of deals to be had, but don’t get drawn in by the first one you come across. It pays to do your research – mysupermarket.com is a great way to scan the shop prices from the comfort of your armchair.

4. Size matters: If you are smart at turning leftovers into other meals, then it might be worth getting a larger bird, which can work out cheaper per kilo. However, if that’s not your thing, then you’d be wise to buy something smaller, or even opt for a turkey crown. Alternatively, if chicken is on offer, you may want to break with tradition for a cheaper bird.

5. Stuff it: If you decide to go for a whole bird, you should aim for 500g on-the-bone weight per person but you can cut costs by making up the some of the weight with sausagemeat stuffing – cheap and also very tasty.

6. Waste not, want not: There are lots of creative ways to use up those leftovers, such as potato cakes from cooked potatoes, stock from the turkey carcass and soup from uneaten vegetables. Have some recipes up your sleeve ready to make the most of your leftovers before they hit the bin.

7. Homemade winners: Gravy, mince pies and pigs in blankets can all be made relatively cheaply and easily at home. Save some pounds and impress your dinner guests with the time and care you have taken to create things from scratch.

8. Make your own: Crackers and table decorations can cost a small fortune so get crafty and try making your own. Hobbycraft sell a pack of 12 cracker snaps for just 80p so all you need is some old toilet rolls, leftover wrapping paper and a few cheap choccies to pop inside. Get the kids involved and you’ll have a fun afternoon activity planned too.

9. Spread the costs: If you have a large family, why not ask everyone to bring a dish and share the costs out. That will take the pressure off you, and probably off them too, plus it’s more fun having everyone join in.

10. Spread the joy: Finally, if you can’t face making Christmas dinner, then why not volunteer your time at your local Salvation Army serving meals to those who’d otherwise be on their own on Christmas Day?

If you'd like some help fine tuning your finances then try a free CAP Money Course – click here to find a course near you!

A Christmas tale of a postman, a letter and CAP…

calendar10 December 2014

Jacqui Robb's avatar Jacqui Robb

A Christmas tale of a postman, a letter and CAP…

I was just speaking to one of my clients recently who is a postman. He was telling me that he noticed some letters going to CAP supporters so he wrote the following message on them:

'You don’t know me, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for giving to CAP. CAP has been able to help me at a time when I needed it the most. Thank you for supporting the work of CAP, you have no idea how much your help is appreciated and I just wanted to say thank you so much. Your Postie, James.'

While he was writing on the fourth envelope, a lady came to the door, so he told her how CAP helped him with his debts and how they provided a massive hamper last Christmas along with toys for his kids and about how he came to faith through CAP. They both broke down and wept, and hugged each other. 

James then told me his son came to faith just the day before, and that over the past year since working with CAP, his mum and dad have also become Christians, along with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and his sister became a Christian just last week!

I just thought that this story would encourage you all.

Have a wonderful Christmas

Jacqui
CAP Debt Centre Manager, Carrickfergus

Budget recipe binder – Laura’s carrot and coriander soup

calendar03 December 2014

Laura Thomas's avatar Laura Thomas

Budget recipe binder – Laura’s carrot and coriander soup

We hope you've been enjoying last week's recipe from our binder, especially on these cold evenings! We've got another wholesome, warming one for you this week...

This weeks' budget recipe: Laura's carrot and coriander soup.

Laura, from our Creative Media team, says: 'We used to go crazy for this when my mum cooked it – and still do! It's one of my staple soups for cold days, and really nutritious.'

Preparation time: 15 mins, cooking time: 30 mins, serves 4-6.
Total cost = approx. £1.44*

Ingredients
1kg carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground mace
1.5l chicken stock
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper

Method
Melt the knob of butter in a large saucepan.
Add the onions, salt and pepper and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots and spices and stir until all veg is coated evenly. Fry for another 5 mins.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for 30 mins.
Blend the soup and enjoy with some nice crusty bread!

*prices from Tesco correct at time of publishing

I’m dreaming of a tight Christmas…

calendar30 November 2014

Kate Martin's avatar Kate Martin

I’m dreaming of a tight Christmas…

It’s that time of year when the mounting hope for snow reaches its peak (if you’re under the age of ten, that is).

But what with the pressure to make the presents mount up too, we’ve compiled some tips on how to save the pennies for that snow-induced heating bill... and a merry Christmas all round!

  1. Set yourself a budget: it’s tempting to ‘collect bits’ as and when you see them, but people tend to overspend as they forget what they’ve bought. Writing a list and setting aside a couple of dates on which to go Christmas-shopping will also help you stick to your budget.
  2. Be honest with your friends: tell them it’s been a tough year and suggest that, instead of presents, you all have a nice meal together where each person brings a dish. Quality time together is something money can’t buy.
  3. Buy shared presents: if you have several children of similar age, consider buying a bigger present that they can all enjoy. And if you buy second-hand you could save hundreds of pounds.
  4. Food saving stamps: in the lead up to Christmas, buying saving stamps are a great way to save up for your festive food.
  5. Avoid the post box: why not save on stamps by hand-delivering cards to people in your area? Remember to keep the ones you get to recycle into handmade cards for next year.
  6. Try own brand: supermarkets have come a long way in making own brand food that tastes as good as the named brands, and it’s plenty cheaper.
  7. Agree to buy just for the kids: money is tight for everyone at the moment so most people you know will appreciate a deal like this.
  8. Make chocolate truffles: these are quick, easy, and can be mass-produced whilst looking like you’ve put in loads of effort! It’s also a great activity to involve the kids in. Check out a simple recipe.
  9. Recycle an outfit: rather than splashing out on a new party dress, customise an old one: remove sleeves, make it shorter, add a belt and some sequins... Or swap with a friend; that way you’ll have something new without spending a penny.
  10. Make candles: reuse leftover candles and tea lights to melt into new ones for thoughtful (and cheap!) presents or to adorn the house. You can make them even prettier with ribbon or by adding glitter to the wax.

Katie is part of the communications team at CAP.

As well as applying to trust funds to support the work of CAP, she also helps to publicise the charity so that more people can hear about our free services.

CAP’s partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

calendar20 November 2014

Helen Webb's avatar Helen Webb

CAP’s partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

My passion is to make sure that those who need our help get directed to the services we offer. That’s why I spend my time targeting organisations, which are in regular contact with these people, and asking them to consider referring people to CAP.

Recently I was delighted to be invited to the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) first ever National Partnership Conference 2014 to present how CAP and the Job Centre Plus can work together to help more people out of debt, unemployment and poverty.

Following their visit to Jubilee Mill last year, the DWP was very impressed and keen to work with us. Seeing how our services benefit many of their claimants and customers, they decided to partner with us on a national basis so that they could refer people to us.

This conference was an opportunity to share with the wider DWP network about our partnership and how they can point people to our services. It was an incredible day and I was overwhelmed by the positive response I received from the network.

Afterwards I was presented with a letter of thanks from Paul Williams, Work Services Director. The letter thanked us for ‘The positive and productive working relationships CAP has forged with DWP’. The letter also stated how our ‘debt management support and job club facilities are a fit with many of DWP priorities and have been well received and well supported across the networks’.

For me it’s really encouraging that the DWP recognises how CAP can make a real difference to the very people who walk into their Job Centres. Their network has the potential to reach so many more people in desperate need of our help, so I am excited to see how this partnership will develop.

Helen is CAP's External Relations Manager.

Helen makes national links between CAP and external bodies, and ensures that local centres connect with agencies in their area that can refer clients to our services.

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