Budget Christmas centrepieces
Cook a vegetarian or vegan Christmas main, or create a special meal from smaller cuts of meat for more efficient cooking that will help you keep food and energy costs down
Many of us will be feeling the pinch this Christmas. However, with just a few simple switches, it's still possible to cook and enjoy delicious festive food while keeping costs down.
If you're keeping an eye on your energy use, we've selected our best meaty recipes that can be made in a slow cooker, plus those using alternative cuts, such as turkey breasts and crown, that are often cheaper than buying a whole bird. Alternatively, you can leave out the meat and choose one of our vegetarian or vegan recipes, made using root veg, lentils, shop-bought pastry or cheese.
We've even created a budget-friendly Christmas lunch to feed six people for £4 each. Our cost- and energy-efficient menu includes turkey with all the trimmings, and comes with a printable shopping list and timing plan.
Check out our ideas below, then have a look at our vegetarian Christmas recipes, freezable Christmas centrepieces and impressive no-bake Christmas dessert recipes. And make the most of what you buy with our Christmas leftover recipes.
Best budget vegetarian centrepieces
This easy vegetable tatin tops ready-made puff pastry with carrots, parsnips, shallots and crumbled blue cheese. You only need a small amount of walnuts to make the topping, which should stop the costs from racking up. Perfect for a veggie family, it also makes a great Boxing Day buffet centrepiece.
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Pre-cooked beetroot, plus kale, stilton and a scattering of pine nuts make up the filling for this stunning vegetarian wellington. Wrapped in puff pastry, it's hearty enough to serve as a Christmas main alongside roast potatoes, gravy and other festive fare.
Frozen spinach makes up the bulk of this veggie tart. Encased in a cheesy pastry and flavoured with nutmeg, cayenne pepper and shallots, it's elegance on a budget. Just be sure to use the vegetarian cheeses for meat-free guests.
Combine raw beetroots with a number of storecupboard ingredients, such as honey, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, to make this showstopping tart. The base is made from ready-made puff pastry and the topping contains just a small amount of pecans and cheese, so there aren't any investment ingredients used here.
You only need seven ingredients to make this vegetarian recipe, and they're all affordable. Leeks, mushrooms, soft goat's cheese and crispy, crunchy filo pastry combine to make a pleasing parcel that's worthy of any Christmas table.
For an alternative yet stunning centrepiece, cook spinach in the microwave, then blitz with eggs and fromage frais. Bake to make the green sponge layer, then roll up with a garlic and herb soft cheese filling. It's budget-friendly, simple to make and sure to tempt vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
When it comes to making nut roasts, there are ways to keep it budget-friendly. Consider buying bags of mixed nuts in bulk so you can use them across a number of different recipes. Or, look out for nuts that go on sale in the run up to Christmas. You should be able to find the rest of the ingredients for this root vegetable cake for fairly low prices, and overall it may still be cheaper than a meat dish.
Rice is used to bulk out this festive goat’s cheese, cranberry and sweet potato pie. Lemon, dill and parsley add a fresh flavour, while eggs bind the mix together. The ready-made pastry is coated with seeds before baking, but if you'd like to cut costs, you could make it without. You can also serve this cold as part of a Boxing Day spread.
Our melty mushroom and stilton wellingtons are simple to make using only nine ingredients, including shop-bought puff pastry. This vegetarian dish is perfect for Christmas Day or any entertaining around the festive period.
Best budget vegan centrepieces
Celeriac is an inexpensive root veg that's perfect for Christmas, thanks to the sweet, earthy flavour it takes on when roasted. It makes a wonderful addition to this rustic galette made with puff pastry and vegan soft cheese. It's an ideal Christmas centrepiece.
Bake this moreish sweet potato parcel for a vegan Christmas Day centrepiece, enhanced with the festive flavours of sage and chestnuts. The recipe uses cold-pressed rapeseed oil, but you could swap it for olive or vegetable oil to keep costs down.
Looking for an affordable vegan centrepiece for Christmas dinner? This roasted butternut squash is the answer, packed with a festive, flavourful stuffing that's made using mushrooms, onion, kale, spices, dried cranberries and a handful of walnuts. It even makes use of the squash seeds, which are roasted for extra crunch.
Make cauliflower the star of the show by stuffing with a festive mix of kale, rosemary, chestnuts and nutmeg. The dish looks impressive enough for your Christmas Day table, and it works wonderfully with all the sides and sauces you'd normally serve.
Create a an elegant vegan main with this pithivier filled with butternut squash, spinach and caramelised onion, and flavoured with ras el hanout. It's a perfect pie for a celebration.
Put some welly in your Christmas dinner. Make these vegan wellingtons using ready-made pastry, beetroot, squash, kale, sumac and lentils. The recipe calls for microwave pouches of lentils, but you could cook your own ahead of time to keep the overall cost down.
This recipe makes enough cranberry and lentil bake for one vegan guest, but you can easily double or triple the quantities to serve more. Many of the ingredients – such as soy sauce, tomato purée and smoked paprika – may already be in your kitchen cupboards, so that should help to lower the cost.
Best budget meat centrepieces
Enjoy an energy- and cost-efficient festive lunch with our speedy roast chicken. We’ve used a few tricks to cut down on the oven cooking time, but the result is still as succulent and satisfying. This recipe is included our budget Christmas menu, which is designed to feed six people for £4 each, and includes gravy, bread sauce and sides. Check it out and get a free printable shopping list and timing plan.
Using a slow cooker to cook your turkey doesn't just save on energy costs, it also results in deliciously tender meat. So, if you like the idea of turkey at Christmas but often find it dry, give this festive dish a go. It can be made with turkey breast fillets, which will also be more affordable than a whole bird.
Read our review to discover 10 of the best slow cookers available to buy.
By making your Christmas dinner using this clever two-tray method, you can still enjoy stuffing, veg and turkey, but you don't need to have multiple hobs and the oven on – you get everything cooked in one go, which saves on energy. To avoid using the hob altogether, heat the gravy in the microwave and make a packet of bread sauce using the kettle.
Be prepared for the big day by reading our review of the 11 best roasting tins for making tasty traybakes.
Cooking a chicken in a slow cooker makes the meat incredibly succulent and flavoursome. If you've never tried cooking in a slow cooker before, this simple recipe is the perfect place to start.
Discover our 10 top tips for using a slow cooker.
Looking for an alternative to Christmas turkey? Try this festive meatloaf made with turkey and pork mince, orange zest, chestnuts and juicy cranberries. It's cheaper and simpler to prepare, and can be easily sliced to serve.
Cooking for a smaller crowd this Christmas? Try this roast turkey breast as an easy alternative to cooking a whole turkey for your festive dinner. You'll still get all traditional flavours, but you should be able to find a more budget-friendly option and it will take less time to cook.
Best budget gluten-free centrepieces
Try this vegan tart for a stunning gluten-free centrepiece. Beetroot and red onion are tossed with brown sugar, then roasted in a frying pan before being topped with a layer of shop-bought pastry and baked. Once you flip the tarte tatin out onto a plate, top with orange zest for a fabulously festive dish.
Not only does this retro roll look lovely on the table, it also tastes amazing, thanks to the garlic soft cheese filling and crispy layer of prosciutto. It's a fabulous alternative to a whole turkey, and only requires seven ingredients to make.
You'll need a sharp knife for slicing the turkey breast – not to mention all the veg you'll be chopping. Read our review of the best knife sets for key kitchen tasks.
Save on energy and choose a turkey crown, rather than a whole bird, to cut your cooking time. Here, we've added a sweet-sticky glaze, similar to what you'd get on a Christmas ham, for flavour and golden colour. If there are any leftovers, they'll make truly exceptional sandwiches.
Look for more festive inspiration? Try these:
Recipes for Christmas Eve
Christmas breakfast ideas
All our best Christmas recipes
Vegetarian Christmas recipes
All our Christmas gravy recipes
Vegan Christmas mains
Easy Christmas dessert recipes
Christmas baking recipes
Christmas cheeseboard recipes