Christmas can be quite a drain on your finances, especially when it comes to feeding the family. Everyone loves some festive treats, but to serve them up can be expensive. So here are some recipes and ideas to help you cut your food costs with Christmas and put together a spread of seasonal food and drink!
All of these recipes have an approximate price put together, taken from the average supermarket cost and average energy bill. But you can cut this price further if you take a few more steps. For one, look out for deals in your local supermarkets, especially around Christmas. Try visiting markets, especially near 5pm or at the end of the day’s sales to see if you can grab some deals. Try a side of the good life by looking for foraging locations near you, or even grow your own produce in your garden.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to make use of your leftovers. Many of the recipes below are perfect for this, and you’ll be surprised at just how much can be saved by not just chucking all the remnants of dinner into the bin. The costs below are approximate and pretty low anyway – so think how much cheaper these dishes can be when they’re coming off the back of another dinner!
- Christmas spuds
- Cranberry sauce
- Christmas sandwiches
- Boxing Day soup
- Bubble and squeak
- Winter crumble
- Christmas galette
- Sloe gin
- Mulled wine
These potatoes are great fun to make with the kids and they’re really healthy.
- Potatoes – 25p per potato
- 4 0z grated or sliced cheese per potato (Use mozzarella for an even more Christmassy look!) – 70p
- 1½ oz margarine or butter per potato – 10p
- Salt and black pepper
Total approximate cost: £1.05 of food plus 10p of energy = £1.15
- Wash, scrub and then stab the potatoes. Put them into a pre-heated oven on 220°C or gas mark 7 on a baking tray for around 45 minutes until cooked through.
- Cut potatoes in half. Remove the inner potato, mash and mix with cheese and butter or margarine.
- Season with salt and pepper and refill the potato skins. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, and then serve.
- Top tip: You can easily add some other fillings to these snacks. Try ham, bacon, or mushrooms.
Christmas dinner needs cranberry sauce, so why not make your own and impress your guests? Make sure to see if there is anywhere you can get really fresh cranberries from for an even better sauce, and play around with adding ingredients such as raisins, cinnamon or nutmeg.
- 200 g /7 0z sugar – 18p
- 250 ml water
- 12 0z fresh or frozen cranberries – £2.00
Total approximate cost: £2.18 plus 2p of energy = £2.20
- Wash the cranberries and make sure there are no duds.
- Boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add cranberries and return to boil. Simmer until the cranberries burst, which should take around 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the sauce return to room temperature. Once cooled, chill it further in the fridge.
This is all about using leftovers to make delicious sandwiches. Below is a bit of a classic post-Christmas snack, but make sure to use your leftovers to put together your own variations.
- Leftover turkey
- Leftover stuffing
- Cranberry sauce
So apart from the bread (which you could even make yourself), this will cost you nothing extra!
- Toast your bread whilst heating up the turkey and stuffing in the microwave or oven.
- Layer the fillings and then spread a fair amount of cranberry sauce all over it.
This works just as well with leftover chicken, but once a year you can serve it up as a festive broth!
- 1 small piece of turkey (cooked) – £1.50
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 stalks celery – 20p
- 1 onion – 20p
- 2 oz frozen peas – 8p
- 2 oz wholemeal flour – 9p
- 850 ml – 1 litre/1 ½ – 2 pints milk – £1.00
- Salt and pepper
Total approximate cost: £3.07 plus 6p of energy = £3.13
- Slice the celery and onion then sauté them in a covered pan for 10-15 minutes.
- Mix 250 ml/9 fl oz of milk with the flour and make a paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk whilst bringing the mixture to boil, constantly stirring.
- Add the vegetables to the sauce, then bone and shred the turkey if needed. Add that in then allow to simmer whilst seasoning. Serve with bargain bread.
Is there are a more iconic leftover meal than bubble and squeak? A long-time British classic method of getting rid of vegetables, bubble and squeak has suffered from a bit of an image problem throughout the years, as if it’s the culinary equivalent of the last chicken on the shelf. But, follow a good recipe and bubble and squeak can be both delicious and cheap!
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 leeks – 25p
- 2 lb/14 oz potatoes – £1.00
- 1 lb/10 oz cabbage, or leftover cooked green vegetables such as cabbage brussels sprouts, etc – 50p
Total approximate cost: £1.75 plus 8p of energy – £1.83
- Boil the potatoes until soft, then mash them. (Remember, the mash could be leftover too!)
- Cook the leeks in a frying pan for five minutes, until softened. Make sure to cook any other vegetables you are using as well.
- Mix together the mash and the vegetables.
- Put the mixture into a well-oiled and hot pan, and flatten it out. Cook until underside is golden brown, then flip it over and repeat.
- Top tip: Try making the mixture into patties for smaller servings. Also try adding your own touches for a different feel, such as few drops of hot sauce, some cooked bacon or tuna.
This warming dessert is an English classic, and the following method is one of the cheapest ways to do it properly. If there are any foraging locations near you, make sure to go out and gather natural, healthy and free extra ingredients for this recipe.
- 455 g/1 lb cooking apples, plums, rhubarb or berries – £2.00
- 150-300 ml/5-10 fl oz water
- 115 ml/4 oz margarine or butter – 18p
- 170 g/6 oz wholemeal flour – 22p
- 170 g/6 oz porridge oats – 20p
- 85 g/3 oz caster sugar – 8p
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Total approximate cost: £2.68 plus 7p of energy = £2.75
- Prepare the fruit into small slices, then lay them tightly in a shallow dish.
- Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar and add the water.
- Make a crumble by rubbing the margarine or butter into the dry ingredients. Add oil if if the mixture still seems dry.
- Spoon the crumble over the fruit and bake at 190°C or gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, as look as it takes for the fruit to start bubbling up and the the crumble turns brown.
- Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.
This gigantic warming dessert is perfect for a family gathering.
- 185 g/6½ oz flour – 24p
- 6 tbsp sugar – 4p
- 1 tsp salt
- 14 g/5 oz butter – 30p
- 2 tbsp Crisco or equivalent – 5p
- A small amount of ice water
- 3 medium cooking apples – £1.00
- 2 pears – 75p
- 170 g/6 0z raisins, cherries, berries or any other moist fruit – 85p
- 7 tbsp marmalade – 14p
- 1 tsp ginger – 3p
- Vegetable oil
Total approximate cost: £3.40 plus energy cost of 15p = £3.55
- Mix flour salt and sugar. Add butter and shortening, mix until coarse.
- Add 2 tbsp of ice water, mix until moist clumps form. Add more water if dry.
- Flatten the dough into a circle and the wrap in plastic. Cool for two hours, and then allow to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before continuing.
- Mix all the fruit with 3 tbsp marmalade and 3 tbsp sugar and fresh ginger.
- Roll out crust until around 13 inches circumference. Put on oiled baking sheet.
- Spoon fruit onto crust, leaving a two-inch border. Fold crust up around the side of the filling.
- Brush crust edges with water, and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar onto it.
- Bake for 50 minutes in oven pre-heated to 220°C or gas mark 7.
- Loosely cover filling with foil, and bake for a further 20 minutes at 200°C or gas mark 6. Bake until crust is a deep gold.
- Let galette cool slightly on rack.
- Heat 4 tbsp marmalade with a small amount of water in a saucepan, then spoon the glaze over the filling.
- Serve with cream or ice cream.
Sloe gin is not only a wonderful winter drink, it’s a perfect way of using that bottle of gin that you got given years ago and has been sitting in a cupboard looking lonely and gathering dust. Remember though, sloe gin takes a while to make. After all, good things come to those who wait…
- 450 g/1 lb sloe berries – £1.00
- 225 g/8 oz caster sugar – 20p
- 1 litre/1¾ pint of gin – £21.oo
Total approximate cost: £22.20
- Prick all the berries and put them in a large clean jar.
- Pour in the sugar and gin, close, then shake it all up.
- Store in a cool, dark place and shake every other day for a week – after that shake once a week for two months.
- Strain the sloe gin into a new bottle and enjoy.
The perfect antidote for winter blues, mulled wine is basically Christmas cheer in a glass. Even better, it’s easy to make. Remember, you don’t need to break the bank on wine for this – a fairly average bottle will do just fine.
- 750 ml red wine – £7.00
- 300 ml orange juice – 20p
- 100 ml water
- 1½ orange – 15p
- 3 g cloves – 18p
- 1 g juniper berries – 8p
- 1 cinnamon stick – 4p
Total approximate cost: £7.65 plus 5p of energy = £7.70
- Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let the mixture simmer gently for around 15 minutes.
- Pass the wine through a sieve. It’s now ready to serve.
Give these recipes as gifts
Christmas food can make a great gift, especially with the little touch of homemade that these recipes provide. For more on gifts, check out MoneyMagpie’s resident food guru Sarah Lockett’s blog.