This Christmas seems to be all about saving money, recycling presents, conserving energy and generally cutting down on waste, which, is a good thing. But when it comes to the Christmas dinner, we are loathe to scrimp on what is deemed to be the best meal of the year. Somehow, cutting back on the food is a no no, and leaving out luxury items is a taboo subject. You can however, cook a perfectly decent Christmas dinner without spending a fortune and even have leftovers for Boxing Day. Follow our simple guide and see how, by swapping luxury items for value ones, buying less expensive cuts of meat and vegetables that have not been prepared, you can enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner, fit for all the family.
Of course, turkeys are typically more expensive at this time of year but you can still get cheap ones. Opt for frozen, they taste just as good as fresh as it is all about how you cook them. Aim for around 2lbs of meat per person (adults) and 2oz of stuffing. Use this Plan Perfect Portions Calculator to help you decide how much you need. Cook the turkey, covered in foil, upside down for the first half of the cooking, then turn it over, take off the foil and cover with streaky bacon for the last half.
Never buy stuffing, it is so easy to make and tastes so much better. For a basic stuffing mix, take some plain sausage meat, some value stuffing mix, an onion, mixed herbs and a leek if you are feeling generous. Make up the packet mix then blitz the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Form into balls or lay into a small tray. Cook for the last remaining 25 minutes in the oven after the turkey has been removed.
The thing to always remember about supermarket vegetables is, the more preparation the store has done to them, the more expensive they will be. So, either get them from a greengrocer, or buy them un-packaged and loose. Don’t go for potatoes, carrots or brussels that have been peeled, washed and put into fancy bags. If you prepare them yourself you will save yourself some serious pennies. Jazz veggies up by par boiling the carrots and finishing them off in butter and a few rosemary sprigs. Roast the parsnips in the normal way but finish with a dollop of honey at the last minute. Don’t mess about with goose fat for roasting potatoes, lard is just as good and costs about 50p.
You have to have good gravy with the Christmas dinner and if you don’t know how to make it from scratch then here is your chance to learn. When the turkey is resting, drain off some of the liquid and stick in the fridge for it to cool down. When it has you should have two layers, the top will be fat and the lower will be the meat juices. Skim a little fat off the top and over a slow heat, mix in some flour and slowly cook it for around five minutes. Make up a stock with the discarded vegetable liquid, meat juices and a couple of stock cubes (I would not recommend Knorr, they are far too salty) and slowly add to the fat and flour mixture, stirring all the time. Reduce if it is too watery or add more liquid if too thick. Add a splash of wine for a more grown up taste.
Pigs in Blankets
As I previously stated before, anything prepared will cost you more so my advice for pigs in blankets is to buy chipolata sausages, twist them in the middle so they are half the size then wrap them in streaky bacon. Far less expensive and they will look home cooked on the plate.
I would buy a cheaper version of the more expensive Christmas puddings but don’t scrimp on the creams and sauces that go with it. You can still save money however by making your own brandy or Cointreau double cream, simply add the liqueur to the already bought double cream. Or for brandy sauce, buy a packet and make it up with full fat milk instead of water.