Stretching Christmas Budgets

Hard to believe that Christmas is just over two weeks away and for most this is a busy and stressful time. Undoubted, Christmas is also the most expensive time of year…social functions, gift buying and Christmas Day dinner.

This year is a first for us as we are joining my sister’s in-laws and going out for our lunch on Christmas Day. We are going as we wish to spend the day with loved ones but I am finding it really hard to justify the $85 per head price tag to have Christmas lunch at the local Pub!!! I need to stop and remember that the day is all about spending time with family. Having said that, a fantastic Christmas lunch can be had at home at a fraction of the price all with a little planning.

Traditionally, we have a cooked lunch at home with family. Roast Chicken, Turkey and Pork along with all the trimmings of roast vegetables, Cranberry Sauce, Apple Sauce, Gravy and all topped off with Mum’s famous Christmas pudding and Brandy Custard. To go out and buy all these items the day before makes a huge dent in the budget. So how do we get a fantastic dinner without the huge outlay? Planning is the key.

The larger cuts of roasting meats can be rather expensive so grab them when they are on special at the supermarket. Don’t be afraid to grab yourself a bargain when you see it and pop it into the freezer. Just last weekend, our local supermarket had whole chickens at just $2.99 per kilo. Most were around the 2.2-2.6kgs, a great size for feeding a family and all priced $10 and under. We managed to snatch a 2.2kg Chicken with a “Reduced Sticker” costing just $5.80. We also bought a 2.4kg rolled Pork Shoulder for $9.70. That’s two great sized roasting cuts for just $15.50. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Reduced Sticker meat. You should either eat them fairly quickly or store them in the freezer. Late afternoon Christmas Eve is a great time to grab a meat bargain as the supermarkets are closed for the public holidays.

Another way to take the strain off your budget is by purchasing your extras in the grocery shops leading up to Christmas. By spreading the cost, your final grocery shop in going to be cheaper. Things like Bon Bon’s, Cranberry Sauce, Mince Pies, Nuts, Chips, Lollies, Drinks, Pudding etc. can all be purchased well in advance. By splitting the costs, you don’t notice the extra $5-$10 as opposed to the extra $100 – $150 in one shop.

In my next blog I will include some ideas for side dishes including crunchy roast potatoes, tasty meat stuffing and homemade Apple Sauce. I will also share my thoughts on the Christmas Food Hampers and whether they are value for money.

Happy Cooking J



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