We all know Christmas can be an expensive time, but that doesn't mean you need to splurge on a fancy festive menu. With a few simple tricks and shortcuts, you can put on a showstopping Christmas dinner spread without compromising on quality or flavour. We've put together the ultimate pick-and-mix, budget-friendly menu, covering starters, mains, sides and desserts.


Use our helpful Christmas portion planner to make sure you've bought the right amount of food for your guests. You don't want anyone going hungry, but buying excessive amounts leads to waste and increased costs.

Find more wallet-friendly Christmas ideas with our budget Christmas recipes and budget Christmas starters.


Spicy roasted parsnip soup

Three bowls of spicy roasted parsnip soup with a side of crusty bread

If you're already planning to have the oven on in the days leading up to Christmas, pop in some parsnips and be rewarded with delicious, silky soup.

For more budget-friendly soup ideas, check out this plant-based leek & potato soup, as well as this meat-free celeriac soup.

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Rosemary polenta bites with peperonata

Rosemary polenta bites served on an oval shaped serving platter

These beauties take some time to make, but are well worth it. They also make the most of low-cost ingredients. Free up time on Christmas Day by making the peperonata in advance and the polenta the day before.

Cheesy confit garlic bread

Four pieces of cheesy confit garlic bread

A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, made with slow-cooked garlic for a more mellow flavour.

Cucumber prawn cocktail cups

Cucumber prawn cocktail cups on a platter

Try this speedy twist on a classic starter for a simple and low-cost festive starter. Ideal at Christmas time, they‘re served on lettuce leaves and topped with crispy shallots.

Baked ham hock pots

Baked ham hock pots in ramekins

Make brilliant use of storecupboard ingredients and your spices with these easy, no-fuss baked ham hock pots.


Turkey, bacon & chorizo bombe

Turkey, bacon & chorizo bombe on a white plate

Get your turkey, pigs in blankets and stuffing fix all in one with this stunning turkey, bacon & chorizo bombe. Cooking turkey breasts is much cheaper and easier than roasting a whole turkey, and the sausagemeat and bacon wrap helps keep it moist and full of flavour.

Mushroom bourguignon pithivier

Mushroom bourguinon pithivier with a large chunk taken out to reveal the centre

Serve our moreish mushroom bourguignon pithivier as a vegan main course. Use chestnut and portobello mushrooms or another selection of cheaper mushrooms.

Quick-roast Christmas chicken & sticky veg

Quick roast chicken dinner with sticky veg, served on a blue plate

Enjoy an energy- and cost-efficient festive lunch – we’ve used a few tricks to cut down on the oven cooking time, but the result is still a succulent chicken. This is part of Barney Desmazery's Cook Smart Christmas menu.

For more ideas, take a look at our budget Christmas centrepieces.

Air fryer roast dinner

Air-fryer roast dinner on black plate

Forgo the oven entirely and make the main roast elements in an air-fryer. Use a microwave to heat the gravy rather than on the hob.

Alternatively, streamline the usually long process of making Christmas dinner with our recipe for slow-cooker turkey.

Veggie loaf

Vegetarian meatloaf cut into slices

This veggie loaf is a smart and thrifty option for a vegetarian main, combining lentils with chestnut mushrooms, brown rice and walnuts. Top with cranberry sauce for a festive touch.


Air-fryer pigs in blankets

Air-fryer pigs in blankets on a navy plate

Make homemade Christmas pigs in blankets easily by using an energy-efficient air-fryer. If you have herbs to hand, add flavourings such as sage leaves.

Roasted roots

Roasted potatoes, carrots, celeriac and parsnips in a white bowl with a serving spoon

Throw your potatoes, carrots, celeriac and parsnips into one tin and roast with goose fat for an irresistible traybake. It’ll free up some much needed space in your oven, too.

Alternatively, you could cook canned potatoes in an air fryer to make these alternative air-fryer roasties.

Microwave cauliflower cheese

Microwave cauliflower cheese in a pink baking dish

Cook the British classic, cauliflower cheese, easily in the microwave. With prep and cook time in under half an hour, it's a worthwhile side.

If you like the look of this, check out this recipe for slow-cooker potato gratin. Slow-cooking offers lovely depth of flavour while saving effort and energy costs.

Charred sprouts with Marmite butter

Charred brussels sprouts with Marmite butter, served on a white side dish

Here's a dish that's sure to get your guests talking: charred sprouts with Marmite butter. It’s cheaper to make than traditional chestnut and bacon sprouts, and you only need a small amount of Marmite to add a super-savoury umami flavour.

Alternatively, make this side with the help of a microwave with our microwave brussels sprouts.

Microwave caraway & pomegranate red cabbage

Red cabbage in a gold bowl with a golden spoon

No Christmas dinner is complete without a side of red cabbage. Pomegranate juice and caraway seeds add festive flavour.

No-waste gravy

Gravy in a gravy boat on a dark blue side plate

Make our no-waste gravy using overripe tomatoes, mushrooms, herb stalks, leek tops and celery leaves to give it added flavour.


Chocolate robins' nests

Chocolate cornflake cakes in brown cake cases with decorative robins on top

Chill these cornflake chocolate nests in the fridge, then top with icing snow – a lovely activity to do with kids.

Christmas crumble

Christmas crumble in a white baking dish with a chunk taken out to reveal the fruity filling

Mix apples with frozen red fruits, cinnamon and mixed spice for a Christmas-flavoured family favourite.

Easy Christmas pudding ice cream

Christmas pudding ice cream scoops in a glass serving bowl

Cool down after your festive lunch with an ice cream treat that includes all the flavours of a classic Christmas pud.

Air-fryer mince pies

Broken mince pie on a plate next to several others shaped into a Christmas tree.

End your festive menu on a high with these mince pies, saving you time energy and effort with the help of an air fryer.

Microwave Christmas mug cake

Mini Christmas cakes topped with custard

Save yourself time and money with these charming microwave Christmas mug cakes, best served with brandy butter or custard.

Do you have any money-saving tips for Christmas dinner? Leave a comment below.


Get more inspiration with our other Christmas menus:

Next level Christmas dinner
Easiest ever Christmas dinner
Classic Christmas menu
Vegetarian Christmas menu
Vegan Christmas menu
Quick Christmas menu
2-hour Christmas menu
Christmas menu for a crowd
All our Christmas menus

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