5 min read

Making Christmas Dinner on a Budget: Our Top Tips

Did you know, on average, families in the UK budget around £350 for the festive period, often going over by as much as £250. But what if you just don’t have that kind of disposable income right now?

We understand that worrying about money can put a dampener on Christmas festivities, and make it feel like you can't enjoy yourself. But there are ways to have your dream Christmas without breaking the bank. Check out our tips and tricks to making a delicious Christmas dinner on a budget.

An illustration of a dinner table set for a Christmas meal.

01: Look for deals

This is our advice to live by: always look for deals. Especially at this time of year, supermarkets will have loads of great deals and offers, so make sure you’re looking out for them. Pick up the cranberry sauce early, if unopened it has a surprisingly long shelf life – up to two years – which means it can sit in the cupboard until Christmas Day. This will help you spread the cost across the holidays and beyond.

02: Be choosy with shops

It’s always nice to shop at premium supermarkets like M&S or Waitrose, but it’s not always affordable. A realistic Christmas budget might not have room for luxury spending but seeing what products these supermarkets have on offer can spark some great ideas.

Everything on the shelves in M&S or Waitrose will be something you can make at home with much cheaper ingredients from a budget supermarket, like Aldi or Lidl.

Check out our post 'How to Save Money on your Weekly Food Shop', for even more ideas!

03: Try something different

Does everyone want something different to eat on Christmas? Accommodating everyone can be a challenge but we have a solution. Instead of making three different kinds of meat, you can get a frozen five-bird roast often for under a fiver!  Just stick it in the oven on Christmas morning and it’ll be piping hot and ready to go for lunchtime.

04: Or keep it traditional

Buying one large bird, like a Turkey, is the most cost-effective way to feed large numbers. Turkey is usually a crowd-pleaser and they’ll be plenty left over to go with your Boxing Day bubble and squeak.

Ever had Turkey Tikka Masala? How about Turkey Ramen? Check out BBC Good Food’s top 20 leftover Turkey recipes to try something different.

05: Don’t push the boat out on Gravy

It’s the small expenses that add up and saving money on something like gravy might not seem like a big deal but can make a bigger impact on your finances later. Gravy doesn’t need expensive wine or beef stock to be a showstopper. These days you can get just-add-water Bisto that tastes the same as what you’d get in a restaurant. Go the extra mile by frying up some garlic and onions to add to your packet gravy.

06: Just get what you’ll eat

It’s very easy to overcook on Christmas, with all the different trimmings on offer it can be hard to know what to choose. But that’s what we need to do: choose. Making everything usually ends up in waste. So, if you don’t like Brussel sprouts or you’re the only person that eats parsnips, maybe miss out on them this year. After a few days of leftovers, you’ll be pleased you didn’t buy too much!

07: Buy now, eat later

This is self-explanatory. Buying in advance can be the best way to budget for Christmas dinner. The frozen section in your local supermarket will have an extensive range of products you can get and stick in the freezer until the big day. Why not grab the desserts a few weeks in advance? Cheesecake and Gateau will stay fresh and delicious in the freezer.

Further reading