How can we do Christmas on a budget?
Back in the day…well Wednesday…I wrote a post about gifts on a budget. You can see it here if you fancy it. In it I mention ways you can save on presents, which is always useful as they do form a large percentage of our holiday costs. Another area of big spending, which is ripe for big savings, is the food budget. We all love nibbles and treats at this time of year, but so much is wasted that it is certainly worth looking into ways to either buy less or at least spend less. Household waste studies carried out last year claimed that well over 70 million mince pies and 4 million Turkey dinners were just thrown away, so it is prudent to plan ahead when it comes to festive food.
Magazines and Social Media feeds would have you believe that if you haven’t spent
hundreds of pounds or you haven’t got a metric ton of chocolates in your house ‘have you even Christmas-ed , bro’. TV adverts show tables laden with such tempting goodies, to the extent that food appears in all of the top results for surveys about what people like most about Christmas. While none of us want to skimp at this time of year, a bit of planning will help you get more for your money.
Plan ahead and make a list
Lists are very important if you are trying to keep to a budget and want to ensure you are only buying what you need. Be sure to remember to add the essentials to your list; while treating yourself to Pringles and Twiglets you will also need milk for your coffee, and bread for your left over turkey sandwiches. Don’t get so carried away with Christmas food that you forget the ‘proper’ food. Christmas is more than one day, so stock up; you don’t want to be constantly popping out to the shops to top up on butter or teabags. Also take into account the opening hours of your local stores so you are not left without.
Making a list will keep you focused and will help you organise your budget, just be sure to stick to it!
Look for offers
Plenty of stores are offering deals, but be sure they are for things you intended buying in the first place, or at the least make a good enough replacement for something you intended getting so as to be worth it. Remember it is not a bargain if you end up throwing it away because nobody ate it. Be sure and check those dates too, it’s not a lot of good getting a Salted Caramel Cheese Cake for Christmas Eve if the use by date is December 15th. I mean, who wants to go through the stress of having to eat an entire cake to themselves, just so it doesn’t go to waste… It would be terrible, I imagine.. Not that I have ever done that.. I was just saying, it would probably be really hard work…
Check the internet for voucher codes, and remember to cash in any points you may have been saving on club cards. The Money Saving Expert website offers loads – as the name suggests! – of money saving advice, tips,and printable coupons to help you on your cash crunching quest, while if you look on the Voucher codes website, there are – again, the clue is in the site name! – voucher codes, that you can use for discounts for a variety of things.
If this is you first ever attempt at cooking the Christmas Dinner it would be worth a look at the Save the Student website which provides a useful guide.
Do you remember that list of things people hate about Christmas from Wednesday? Sprouts appeared on it. They seem to be a very unpopular vegetable! So why do we buy them? Because it is Christmas – think about it, do you have them any other time of the year?
Just because something is traditional, it does not mean you have to have it. I can’t remember ever having turkey for Christmas. We always had chicken and pork because it was what we liked and it got ate rather than wasted. If no one is a fan of mince pies or Christmas pudding don’t buy them in just because tradition dictates.
If you still want turkey, consider a crown rather than a whole bird. It will cook a lot quicker and will be a great deal cheaper. We have bought the pre-prepared frozen joints before now and they have cooked up a treat. In fact frozen food is a boon this time of year; no worries about waste as you only cook what you need and no one can go in the freezer and graze on things like they do with the fridge.
Make your own
While I fully appreciate it is a busy time of the year, setting aside time to bake a few biscuits or to make mini quiches is time well spent. If you get the family involved it can become a new tradition to get you all in the holiday mood.
This recipe for tiffin claims to take about 10 minutes, it can be frozen and kept for 3 months – if it lasts that long! If it turns out okay it may make a nice present for someone too.
Be realistic – if something requires obscure ingredients or appears well beyond your skill set, give it a miss and buy it in. No-one is expecting you to press and make your own cranberry sauce, and now is not the time to risk poisoning the family if you get if terribly wrong (ask me about the sausage plait incident some time… Don’t ask my bloke though; NEVER mention sausage plait to him, he is still traumatised… )
If you are a risk taker, you could always wait until Christmas Eve in the hopes of getting some last minute bargains. Not that I recommend this if you have the entire family coming over, but if it is just a few of you and you are not too particular about your festive spread, it could potentially lead to some huge savings.
What are your must have Christmas foods? What do you buy in that usually gets wasted? Where do you think you can make savings in your food budget?
Let me know in the comments.