With a bit of clever cooking you can make Christmas surprisingly cheap without cutting back on the festive cheer. Here's how to tighten the purse strings.
Every year the pressure to spend a fortune at Christmas grows and, if you have a flock of expectant guests booking their place at the dinner table, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the expense.
But a traditional Christmas celebration filled with fine food, seasonal treats and homemade gifts doesn't have to send you into the red. With a bit of clever cooking you can make Christmas surprisingly cheap without cutting back on the festive cheer.
Use your leftovers
As much as we might try, most people fail to polish off the Christmas lunch and end up with an abundance of food the morning after. With this in mind, you can do some planning and shouldn't need to buy an excessive amount for Boxing Day. Getting creative with your leftovers is a great way of saving money – and a really satisfying way of feeding your family.
Turn the remnants of the cheese board into a tasty tart, whip up a sherried turkey & ham bake, or if you're out to impress, make it a roast turkey & cranberry wellington for the ultimate Boxing Day buffet. Leftover root vegetables can be combined into a delicious veg & orange cake, and excess Christmas panettone can be turned into an extra-posh bread & butter pudding. But, of course, no Christmas would be complete without the famous turkey curry.
One of the main reasons for wasting money at Christmas is panic-buying. Remember, the supermarkets are only actually closed for a couple of days, so try not to fall into the trap of massively over-spending on things you don't really need. There are only so many mince pies one family can eat and, if you have guests, it's likely they will also bring food and drink with them.
Here are some more of our favourite Christmas leftover recipes.
- Christmas pudding trifle
- Leftover turkey casserole
- Christmas sausage & veg tortilla
- Turkey cacciatore with a twist
- Christmas slaw
- Spiced parsnip & ham soup
- Christmas pudding strudel
- Coronation turkey with homemade chapattis
Austerity cook Jack Monroe told us one of the first cookbooks she bought was Gastronomy Economy by Allegra McEvedy. "She [Allegra] really installed in me the fundamentals that you can make leftovers good, you can take one ingredient and make it go into three meals. And that you can make cooking fun, even when it’s simple ingredients and you’re on a budget," says Jack.
You can view all our Christmas leftover recipes here.
Shop-bought canapés and starter classics like smoked salmon can send you overbudget in no time. Lots of people skip the starter on Christmas Day altogether, but if you want to stick to having a starter, how about cheap and easy winter classics, like a sophisticated but simple celeriac tartare with smoked trout, ham hock & mustard terrine, or smoked mackerel salad.
If you don't have hundreds of guests, a Christmas centrepiece of classic roast chicken & gravy or foolproof roast chicken can reduce the stress and the cost of the big day. Seasonal sides like winter root mash and creamy parsnip & squash bake are inexpensive but feel special.
If your guests are too full for Christmas pud, finish off in style with a light and festive dessert like poached pears in spiced tea. It'll set you back much less per serving than your traditional Christmas pud but your guests will never guess.
You can view all our Christmas budget recipes here.
'Forgotten cuts' like pork belly and lamb shanks have become more popular (and pricey) in recent years, but they're still good value and especially delicious in slow-cooked dishes. Gordon Ramsay's oxtail soup is a wonderful winter warmer. If you've got guests staying for the full Christmas period, dishes like lamb neck with Christmas spices and three-hour pork belly are sure to score you culinary points, as well as saving you pounds.
You can view all our cheaper cut recipes here.
Homemade gifts always make a special impression and are a fantastic way of keeping Christmas costs down. A touch of pretty packaging can turn edible treats into something that looks really special.
Chocoholics will love the triple chocolate cupcake kit and you can indulge cheese-loving friends with a stylish baked camembert kit. Mulling syrup, pickled pears and vintage vanilla fudge are all bound to please the adults, too.
Get kids whipping up their own presents in the kitchen with child-friendly recipes like festive jammie dodgers or special chocolate buttons – even if the results don't look perfect, granny's sure to be impressed. If you really want to spoil someone you can always make up a whole hamper, and this can make a lovely family present, which cuts the cost of buying lots of seperate gifts. Discover tips on making your hamper look extra special, plus homemade treats to put in it, with our guide on how to make a Christmas hamper.
You can view all our edible gift recipes here.
Check out our favourite low-cost Christmas recipes.
Got your own tips for cost-cutting at Christmas? Leave a comment below...