Want to have a fantastic Christmas without piling on the pounds? Check out our complete Christmas menu for under 2,500 calories – it won't leave you hungry.
This menu plan comes with a disclaimer; we understand and wholeheartedly agree that Christmas should be enjoyed to the fullest, food and drink should flow as you desire and calories consumed will neither be judged, nor counted. That said, if you don't want to go overboard on the big day or are simply trying to avoid a long, salad-filled January, our Christmas Day menu will help you stay within a healthy calorie range (approximately 2,500 kcals) – and you won't have to miss out on any of the festivities. Happy eating!
A few notes before you start planning:
Why 2,500 calories (kcals)?
Government guidelines recommend a daily calorie intake of 2,500 kcals for men. The recommendation for women is 2,000 kcals and for children is 1,800 kcals. However, you've probably noticed that food labels refer to one standard Reference Intake (RI) set of figures – those for a moderately active female. We've chosen 2,500 kcals as our target value so you can tailor your menu to the Reference Intake most relevant to you. Simply choose the lower calorie options from the choices provided below for each meal.
What about other RIs?
All of the recipes listed below have the nutritional information for fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrates and salt listed above each recipe. If you are trying to stick to a particular Reference Intake (RI) please consult each recipe individually.
You can find a list of RIs for men, women and children on the NHS website.
Christmas Day menu
Smoked salmon, blueberry muffins, chocolate croissants – nothing is barred from our Christmas breakfast menu. Simply choose one of the options below and enjoy.
This crunchy granola is filling enough to take you through the morning. 259 kcals
You can use frozen berries in this nourishing smoothie for extra convenience. 123 kcals
Total: 382 kcals
Scramble your eggs luxuriously with just three ingredients. 254 kcals
Perfect scrambled eggs
Top with smoked salmon for a classic Christmas breakfast treat. 133 kcals
Scandi smoked salmon
Total: 387 kcals
This low-fat muffin tastes deceptively indulgent. 202 kcals
Banana & blueberry muffins
Freshly squeezed oranges and lemons complete any breakfast table. 88 kcals
St Clements rise and shine juice
Total: 290 kcals
Marzipan, almonds and milk chocolate combine to bring your croissants to new heights of decadence. 384 kcals
Chocolate & almond croissant
Total: 384 kcals
The main event
Starters and canapés
Depending on how you organise your Christmas feasting, you may prefer to enjoy one of our suggested starters, or instead tuck into a few of the canapés below.
Suitably special for Christmas Day, this soup is the lowest calorie starter option. 120 kcals
Prawn & fennel bisque
This lovely light salad is full of flavour. 175 kcals
Smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraîche & beetroot
For something really special, try scallops atop fresh greens. 146 kcals
Seared scallops with flavoured greens
This make-ahead soup is low-fat but still substantial. 178 kcals
Curried squash, lentil & coconut soup
If you're planning on having a starter, just have one or two of the below canapés to stay within the target calorie range. If you're sticking with the buffet, mix and match as you fancy.
These cute canapés take just 15 minutes to make. 53 kcals
These bite-sized treats are zingy and vegetarian. 19 kcals
Thai mango, chilli & lime cups
These little bilini-like pancakes are a great gluten-free option. 42 kcals
Sesame & chilli pancakes with tzatziki
You can make ahead and freeze these zesty fishcakes. 52 kcals
Salmon & lemon mini fishcakes
Main (A) + gravy (B) + sides (C)
Choose from turkey or one of our three vegetarian options – all under 300 kcals.
If you're a meat eater, turkey is a great option for Christmas lunch. Tradition aside, it's low in fat, high in protein and contains fewer calories per slice than chicken.
Three to four slices roasted turkey (no skin). 300 kcals (approximate value, depending on size)
This cheesy main uses vegetarian parmesan and can be made the night before. 297 kcals
Herby cheese roulade
This healthy recipe uses filo pastry to keep the fat levels low while still providing plenty of flavour. 213 kcals
Leek, mushroom & goat's cheese strudels
Slow-roast this stunning and hearty dish. 286 calories
Aubergines filled with spinach & mushrooms
No roast would be complete without gravy. If you're opting for a meaty main choose from our make-ahead option or easy red wine gravy, both well under 100 calories per serving.
This gravy uses up lots of veg and can be kept in the freezer until you're ready to use. 84 kcals
A grown-up gravy that's ready in just 10 minutes. 35 kcals
Easy red wine gravy
Choose your favourites, keeping in mind calories are provided in relation to portion sizes (see recipes for serving information).
Sticky carrots with thyme & honey 73 kcals
Christmas spiced red cabbage 82 kcals
Creamed spinach 83 kcals
Roasted cauliflower with garlic, bay & lemon 96 kcals
Cranberry sauce with port & star anise 51 kcals
All in-one bread sauce 77 kcals
Chunky roast potatoes 168 kcals
Stir-fried sprouts with green beans, lemon & pine nuts 125 kcals
Crisp honey mustard parsnips 149 kcals
Chipolatas wrapped in sage & pancetta 103 kcals
Apricot & hazelnut stuffing 124 kcals
There isn't a traditional Christmas pudding this side of Lapland that is low in calories. However, we're certain the options here won't leave you disappointed – from mince pies to chocolate mousse, there's something for everyone.
Gluten-free and egg-free diets are catered for with these crunchy mince pies. 175 kcals
Crumble-topped mince pies
Lovely and light yet fabulously festive. 115 kcals
Clementine & prosecco jellies
This nutty fig pudding can be whipped up in just 10 minutes. 162 kcals
Sticky cinnamon figs
These individual trifle-like pots are low in fat. 160 kcals
Rhubarb & strawberry meringue pots
Angela Nilsen's dark chocolate mousse pots are surprisingly low in calories. 167 kcals
While not everyone will need a drink allowance, those who want to enjoy a tipple or two on Christmas Day have been catered for with this menu. Depending on which beverages you choose you'll be able to enjoy three or four throughout the day.
Merry and mulled, this punch is perfect for festive supping. 177 kcals
Mulled pear & cranberry punch
A simple classic – use sparkling wine for this celebratory cocktail. 147 kcals
Deliciously different vodka – lovely over ice or with soda water. 104 kcals
Turkish delight vodka
Blend interesting flavour pairings with crushed ice for these frozen favourites. 98 kcals
Frozen lychee & mint cocktails
Perfect for a grown-up brunch. 104 kcals
Spiced bloody marys
A good G&T is a great low-calorie option. Use slimline tonic to reduce the calorie count even further. 101 kcals
Cucumber & coriander G&T
It's difficult to plan your Christmas evening snacks ahead of time – who knows what you'll fancy! If you're picking at leftovers from the day, try and refer back to the recipe and estimate how many calories are in your portion. Below are a few more ideas for evening eating.
Lovely little after-dinner treats. 81 kcals
Mint chocolate truffles
If you need a sweet fix while watching the Christmas Day blockbuster these are ideal. 18 kcals
Peppermint candy canes
Lovely and light but still oh-so chocolaty. 97 kcals
Chocolate chip cookies
Barely any more effort than opening a bag of crisps. 179 kcals
Creamy pesto with prosciutto dippers
Use up turkey leftovers in these healthy wraps, ideal for a light supper. 267 kcals
Turkey & spring onion wraps
More ideas for a healthy Christmas
This page was last reviewed on 2nd November 2018 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
Do you have any health advice or calorie-cutting tips for Christmas? Leave a comment below...