Christmas and food, Christmas and food – they go together like…err Richard and Judy (SING WITH ME)…blah..blah..blah…you can’t have one without other. Those Christmas advertisements and TV foodie shows can really whip you up into thinking that THAT main meal on December 25th must be fit only for God above us or perhaps the Queen if you’re feeling a little less festive. And as much as I love me a bit of Nigella I think we have to stop and ask ourselves if it isn’t a bit silly to spend £150 on a meal at home for 4 people. In the words of my husband ‘bitches be cray.’
THRIFTY CHRISTMAS DINNER
Here’s my view on that meal. Eat something you like, if you don’t like turkey don’t buy a turkey. Still fancy a bird though? Do a chicken, you’re probably more familiar with cooking it and you’re less likely to turn it into a dry piece of sandpaper. Now, if you do like turkey but a whole bird is rather large for your needs, opt for a turkey crown (I’ve heard good things about Lidl’s offering) or even a couple of rolled breasts which will feed a good number of people. The price of a decent whole bird is through the roof once December rolls round, so if you only want it for one meal then why spend a fortune on what essentially becomes a waste product to you. If you are committed to a large joint or bird it’s important to make sure you’re equipped to turn the leftovers into meals you can use. There’s no point planning to use up the leftovers if you don’t have the necessary ingredients to do so. Will it ever really happen? I’ll be covering a few nice leftover meals as we get a little closer to Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled and your shopping lists at hand. Plus if you’re definitely up for making the most of leftovers and there’s only a couple of pounds (money wise) between one bird and a larger bird, opt for the larger and really go to town on using that meat wisely. Step away from pre-packaged and do it yourself. Pre-chopped veg and ready made options might save time but they’ll cost you extra money – I for one would rather peel a few spuds than buy ready prepared roast potatoes.
And when it comes to buying your shopping make sure you’re checking and comparing prices. This is something we always do but it’s a great time of the year to get into the habit if it isn’t something you already do. I use MySupermarket mostly because they’re great at flagging both their own deals but also the current deals the supermarkets are running – and now that they include Aldi I find I’m able to save even more money. Also talk to local butchers and greengrocers and have a walk through your local market. Once you get chatting to these guys they tend to offer a good deal or throw in some extras – if you’re buying a tonne weight of streaky bacon, when you come to buy your sausages you might just find you have a few extras thrown in.
THRIFTY CHRISTMAS FOOD TIPS
– Unless there’s a great reduction in store, pre-packaged cheese tends to be more expensive so opt to buy from the deli section of the supermarket or a specialist shop.
– Buy your bird with the giblets inside and make your own gravy. It’s so much nicer than powdered or pre-made options. I’ve actually bought a turkey crown and asked the butcher if I could buy some giblets to go with it only to have some, that other customers didn’t want, bagged up and given to me for free.
– Value range mince meat (I like the one from Morrisons) is super cheap and with a splash of booze and a bit of grated orange peel it tastes as good as the more expensive mince meat. Making your own is wonderful but the price of the ingredients (for anything containing dried fruits) is vast.
– I once spoke to someone who works at Sainsbury’s HQ who told me their Basics range smoked salmon trimmings are just cuttings either from their Taste a Difference range or their mid level range and if you take a glance at the codes on the front of the package you can soon work out which is which.
– If you are brave enough to wait, you can get some amazing deals in supermarkets late on Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t recommend making this your only option but there really are some deals to be had! We’ve snatched up beef joints, hams and huge birds all under £2 at about on Christmas Eve. We couldn’t eat them all but our freezer was glad to befriend them.Please share your tips below and help someone out this Christmas.