Seven steps to a frugal Christmas dinner
How can you shop sensibly for your Christmas dinner? Follow these seven steps.
With the cost of a full-on Christmas lunch almost as high as that for a normal week’s groceries, it’s no wonder some people are planning to shop more frugally this year. A traditional meal with all the trimmings could set you back between £60 and £70, according to MySupermarket.co.uk.
However, a poll conducted by Abbey suggests Brits would rather cut back on buying gifts and socialising than compromise the quality of their Christmas dinner.
Luckily, there are ways to shop sensibly this Christmas -- without stifling your festive spirit.
1. Don’t up-shift the brands you buy
Christmas tends to bring out the shopping snob in all of us: where a bog-standard brand would do, we’re tempted by ‘Finest’ or luxury ranges.
A great money saving technique is to down-shift the brands you buy, replacing big name goods with supermarkets’ own versions. However, at Christmas, resisting the urge to up-shift is just as crucial.
Remember, it’s unlikely your guests will really ‘Taste The Difference’ -- but buying posher versions of products could seriously affect your shopping bill!
2. Consider quality vs. quantity
In the grip of festive fever, it’s easy to purchase more food and drink than you can hope to consume. But let’s face it, not many of us look forward to turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day.
Think carefully about how much of everything you really need. This should help you cut costs without compromising the quality of the items you buy.
Also, beware of promotions such as 3 for 2 and BOGOFs (buy one, get one free). When they require you to buy more of an item than you’d originally intended, they don’t always offer good value for money.
3. Do it yourself
Often, it’s ‘time-saver’ foods that cost the most. Items such as pre-prepared canapés and pigs in blankets can be pricey -- so why not consider making simple snacks of your own?
DIY festive decorations can also be fun and easy to create. Cheap tea lights are widely available, and a few foundling chestnuts and pine cones (washed, obviously!) could add festive cheer to any dining table.
4. Start shopping early
On its website, Tesco states: “The earlier you shop, the more you save!” Yes, it sounds like a marketing ploy -- but it is probably true.
Supermarkets are likely to slow down the pace of special promotions and up their prices as Christmas comes closer. They’ll be aware that, in the run up to December 25, shoppers no longer have time to hunt for the hottest deals.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to start shopping as early as you can. Read our Frugal Food blog for tips on where to go for bargains!
5. Shop around
While it’s tempting to blitz a single store and get all your food shopping done in one go, this isn’t necessarily the way to bag bargains.
Competition for Christmas business is strong this year, and the price war on ‘big ticket’ food items such as turkeys and champagne is aggressive. It’s worth checking whether the most expensive things at your favourite supermarket might be cheaper elsewhere.
Also, don’t forget that deep discounters such as Lidl, Aldi and Netto have surged in popularity recently. They’re likely to offer a good range of Christmas bargains.
6. Profit from your spending
Don’t forget that whatever you spend on food this Christmas could be earning you reward points, cashback or a combination of both.
At the moment, the market leading cashback credit card is the American Express Platinum Cash Back card, which offers 2.5% cashback on everything you spend during the first three months, up to a maximum of £100.
Also, remember that if you have a collection of Tesco reward points stored up it’s worth resisting the temptation to spend them on your festive food. They’re worth up to twice as much when you redeem them online.
7. Shop online
As faithful readers will know, we're a big fan of online shopping here at lovemoney.com -- and we think that, at this time of year, ordering your food via the worldwide web has even more advantages.
You don’t have to find somewhere (anywhere!) to park your car. Nor will online shopping involve fighting your way around a supermarket full of angry, stressed shoppers. But most importantly, shopping online will keep you safe from seductive special offers on Christmas goodies you simply don’t need.
So why not buy your festive food via MySupermarket.co.uk? This super clever site will track how much your shopping would cost at each of the UK’s four major supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA and Ocado/Waitrose), then allow you to buy your entire trolley of goods from the one that you choose.
However you choose to get hold of your goodies this Christmas, be sure to enjoy them!
*This article has been revised and updated from an earlier version.