Many of us like to indulge at Christmas time, but indulgence usually comes with a hefty price tag. The cost of living crisis means food is more expensive right now than many of us have experienced before. Festive treats are becoming more and more unaffordable, alongside the other usual Christmas expenses. But, with a dash of savviness and a sprinkle of careful thought, you can still provide a delicious Christmas dinner on a budget.
Cheap Christmas dinner ideas
Steer away from pricy seafood and shellfish and choose a vegetable-based dish to start your meal. A hearty vegetable soup with bread is warming and economical. Choose a seasonal vegetable base like parsnip, beetroot or celeriac for best value. Welsh rarebit, potato fritters or a warm winter salad would work too.
This year, according to The Grocer magazine, the price of turkey has increased by up to 45%. With this in mind, now is the perfect time to choose chicken as your main event. You could even go vegetarian and try a vegetable tart or roasted squash as your showstopper.
Take advantage of the supermarket vegetable ‘wars’ before Christmas. The big five supermarkets reduce their Christmas vegetable offerings to as low as 19p a bag. Frozen vegetables are also a thrifty alternative to fresh and could reduce any fresh vegetables going to waste.
To reduce your energy costs on the big day, try roasting smaller pieces of meat in a tray with vegetables to reduce the time you spend cooking in the oven. You can also steam vegetables in the microwave if you have one. An air fryer is a handy and energy efficient way to cook pigs in blankets and stuffing balls.
Vegetable tops, peelings and cauliflower leaves can be used to make gravy but there’s no shame in granules. Make up your granules with the water from boiling potatoes or vegetables and add the cooking juices from roasted meat to add extra flavour.
Shop-bought mince pies with some cream is a simple but satisfying dessert. Frozen fruits can be used to make a crumble or pie. A piece of cheddar with some crackers will satisfy the cheese lovers. This chocolate orange steamed pudding is cooked in the microwave and uses a packet cake mix for speed and value.
Other budget Christmas food ideas
Pre-packaged buffet food can be really expensive. Good old fashioned sandwiches are always a winner and can be served alongside affordable dishes such as vegetable sticks and dips, potato or pasta salad and coleslaw.
Make sure you use up any leftovers! Turn your leftover meats and vegetables into stews, curries, bubble and squeak, or make sandwiches. Just be sure to store them appropriately and use them within the recommended time frame.