Christmas can be an expensive time of year and on top of buying presents and forking out for family activities, there is also the cost of food to consider.
With food prices rising week on week, is it really possible to create a three-course Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimming for less than £10?
One of NHS Discount Offers savvy savers thinks she has managed it and her thrifty Christmas menu feeds four people.
Fiona Hawkes, 34, is from Somerset and loves saving money on food, often creating meals for her family for just pennies.
She set herself the challenge of getting Christmas dinner sorted for a family of four for less than ten pounds. Here’s how she did it:
The Christmas Dinner Menu at £2.49 per head:
Starter: Winter Vegetable Soup
Main Course: Turkey breast fillet with stuffing and wrapped in bacon served with pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts, roasted parsnips, stuffing balls and gravy.
Dessert: Mince Pie and Custard
Starter: Food Waste Winter Vegetable Soup
Food waste can be a huge issue at Christmas, with many families buying far more food than they need and much of it being thrown away.
Ending up with lots of food waste is literally throwing money in the bin.
Fiona says: “I used all of the peel from the carrots, sprouts, parsnips and two of the potatoes to create an easy and delicious vegetable soup, the only extras were a stock cube and some seasoning from my cupboard.
I think having a starter with Christmas dinner helps add a sense of occasion and makes sure everyone will be full up if you’re serving less on the main course.”
If you don’t want to serve the soup with Christmas dinner it could be set aside for later in the day or even later in the festive season.
Main Course: Turkey Breast, Pigs in Blankets, Roasties, Veg and Gravy
Even when trying to rein in the spending, you can still have Christmas classics like turkey.
“Buying mini breast fillets is the best way to still have my annual turkey fix without spending a fortune on a turkey crown or buying a whole bird.
Most of my family prefer to have breast meat anyway.
“I used all of the peel from the carrots, sprouts, parsnips and two of the potatoes to create an easy and delicious vegetable soup, the only extras were a stock cube and some seasoning from my cupboard."
As the turkey fillets are filled with sausagemeat stuffing and wrapped in bacon, it still feels as though I’m getting those traditional Christmas flavours, just like with a whole turkey but with much less stress.
If you prefer your turkey plain, you can simply roast the mini breast fillets as they are.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey, but you can still enjoy it on a budget”
Using smaller amounts of turkey also alleviates any worries about whether the bird will be defrosted in time for the big day.
Fiona’s bacon-wrapped turkey breasts take just half an hour to cook which means your oven will be on for less time, saving fuel.
If you don’t fancy turkey though you can always switch to a whole chicken for the same price.
You could also add cranberry sauce for an extra 59p.
Christmas Veggies on a budget
The vegetables are another key element of Christmas dinner and most people would expect to see at least a few different varieties on their plate.
As vegetables are often the cheapest part of the meal, make sure there are plenty of them to go around.
“Buying mini breast fillets is the best way to still have my annual turkey fix without spending a fortune on a turkey crown or buying a whole bird."
“I roasted the whole 2.5kg bag of potatoes meaning anyone who wanted an extra couple of roasties could have them.
Plus, if they don’t get eaten they can be snacked on later in the evening or on Boxing Day”
While it’s advisable to start buying some Christmas foods early, vegetables are definitely the exception if you’re keen to save some money.
Many supermarkets slash the price of vegetables in the two weeks before Christmas, with recent years seeing carrots, sprouts, parsnips and potatoes down to as little as 20p per pack.
Pigs In Blankets and Stuffing for the lowest price
Pigs in blankets are a highlight of many people’s Christmas dinner so it’s great to know you can still have them even when making a Christmas dinner for under a tenner.
“Making my own pigs in blankets and sausagemeat stuffing was a great way to save some cash and I was able to split one pack of value sausages between the two side dishes.
Fiona’s Shopping List
(Prices correct as of 29/11/2021)
Turkey Breast Mini Fillets 400g £3.50 (Sainsbury’s)
Streaky Bacon 275g £1.25 (Tesco)
8 Sausages 80p (Tesco)
Potatoes 2.5kg 91p (Tesco)
Parsnips 500g 42p (Tesco)
Sprouts 500g 95p (Tesco)
Carrots 200g 30p (Asda)
Gravy Grannuels 200g 30p (Tesco)
Stuffing Mix 170g 32p (Asda)
6 Mince Pies 99p (Morrisons)
Instant Custard 70g 19p (Asda)
Total: £9.93 / £2.49 per head
I used streaky bacon leftover from the turkey to wrap around four of the sausages and then used the rest of the sausages to make stuffing balls”
Dessert: Mince Pies To Finish
Dessert after Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant as most people will be pretty full from their roast.
Mince pies are a simple and cheap way to round things off and serving them warm with some instant custard feels more festive.
If you’d rather switch to a Christmas pudding, the additional cost is £1.01 bringing the cost per head up to £2.74.
Fiona’s Final Money Saving Tips
“While it can be tempting to buy prepared vegetables to save time, prepping your own will definitely save you money. You could prepare them on Christmas Eve and store them in water overnight or get the family to muck in on Christmas morning.
Avoid buying foods that won’t get eaten – while nuts in their shells and Christmas cake might be traditional, it’s not worth it no one ends up eating them.
Don’t be tempted to buy luxury brands when value brands can often taste just as nice. I used value sausages, bacon, stuffing, gravy and instant custard for my menu.
Shop around to get the best deals and start early so you don’t end up panic buying on Christmas Eve. Remember Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones, not about how much money you spend”
While Fiona did shop around for all of her ingredients, her prices are based on buying each item in full and not per 100grams.
More on Christmas…FORMER palace chef reveals what the Queen and royals eat on Christmas Day, as HRH returns to Sandringham to celebrate.
Also…Primark has launched its Christmas PJs and there are matching sizes for all the family from just £6
We also shared how a woman feeds her family-of-four using yellow-sticker deals.
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