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Cut the cost of Christmas dinner

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Golden turkey, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes all covered with lashings of gravy. Christmas is a time for overindulgence and many of us are already dreaming of our Christmas Day feast and the other festive nibbles.

Unfortunately, all this indulgence comes with a price tag. In fact, according to the Bank of England (Opens in a new window), a typical household spends on average £740 more in December than we do in any other month of the year.  With the added concerns of supply chain issues and rising prices, you may well be wondering how much more difficult it may be this year to put on a great Christmas spread.

In this guide we’ll share some useful tips and tricks to keep the cost of your Christmas shopping under control and how to have a memorable festive feast without breaking the bank.

The main event

Whether turkey, goose or even if you’re going down the vegetarian and vegan route, the centrepiece of your meal is going to cost the most. According to BBC Good Food (Opens in a new window), a turkey can cost anything from £12 for a 4kg turkey to around £80 for a deluxe version. It pays to spend some time considering how big it really needs to be. If you’re disciplined about using up leftovers, then by all means go for a bigger main and relax knowing you’re off cooking duty for the rest of the week. However, if you’re unlikely to use it all up, then be more conservative with your order and you will save a few quid.

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The trimmings

Like Santa without his beard, Christmas dinner would not be complete without the trimmings.

Pigs in blankets, roast potatoes and yes, even Brussels sprouts. They’re all essential parts of the festive feast.

While these are certainly are not the most expensive things you’ll be buying this December, there are ways to save money on them.

It can be very tempting to save yourself some time and buy things pre-prepared, so you just need to throw them in the oven.

But unfortunately, this often comes with a price tag much higher than buying things you have to prepare yourself. Our top tip is to accept any offers of help in the kitchen so that everyone feels they’ve contributed to the day. Get the teenagers to peel the spuds and the uncles to wrap the pigs in blankets and you’ll be done in no time.

Use your leftovers

One reason Christmas dinner is more expensive than other large meals is because we often buy far too much.

But don’t despair and think you need to subject yourself to a week of cold turkey sandwiches.

Leftover turkey can be used to make curries and casseroles. Cold roast potatoes can be used to make bubble and squeak with any spare veg. Even the turkey carcass can be used to make stock for a warming winter soup.

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Be best friends with your freezer

A great way to save cash both before and after Christmas is to make the best use of your freezer.

Take advantage of pre-Christmas deals to stock up on things you’ll need in December and keep them fresh in the freezer.

Buying frozen turkey and goose can often be a lot cheaper than buying fresh.

Then after the meal, don’t just throw things away. Make use of the Tupperware and takeaway containers you’ve stashed at the back of the cupboard and freeze them for later.

Plan your meals

This is actually just good advice in general, but particularly at Christmas when there is a temptation to overspend.

First, make a meal plan. What relatives are coming over and when? What days are you out for office parties? Who loves Brussels sprouts and who can’t stand them?

By even having a basic plan, you’ll reduce the chance of having ten boxes of mince pies, three packets of instant stuffing, five jars of cranberry sauce, four Christmas puddings and six cartons of brandy butter left over.

Share the cost with others

If you’re hosting over Christmas, expenses can soon add up. Why not ask if guests can bring along snacks or part of the festive meal with them? Beverages and puddings are one of the easier items to transport, and they can be some of the costlier things on your Christmas shopping list.

Know how to spot a good deal

Supermarkets are full of special offers, BOGOFs and three for twos at this time of year.

While some of them might be a good deal, like with all sales, this isn’t always the case.

Check the label on the shelf to see how much you’re getting by size or weight to make sure you’re paying a fair price and not just being taken in because it’s on offer.

Make sure you actually need it. A multi-deal on cranberry sauce can sound like good value, but if the only day you eat it is Christmas day then one jar should be enough.

Trading down brands is another good way to save some money on the optional extras, which could rather go towards your Christmas turkey.

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