A Mothers Ramblings: Frugal Christmas Food

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Frugal Christmas Food

An empty plate with Cutlery

Food at Christmas is a huge thing, it is all part of the celebration that we feel we need to have nuts and other snacks as well as the traditional Turkey and trimmings and that is just on Christmas day! On top of Christmas Day and New Years Eve there are the snacks at parties, during special seasonal events, when friends or relatives drop round and if you are like Daddy and me in the run up to Christmas too!

One way that I like to try to keep the cost down is by making most of my treats. Over the last few weeks I have been making biscuit and cookie dough and freezing them uncooked either in sausage shapes or in special cut shapes. All I need to do is to defrost the sausage shaped ones in the fridge over night and cut and cook the next day. The cut shapes I just cook from frozen!

I also like to make my own mince pies, you can keep them in the freezer until needed and either defrost them in the oven or microwave as you are about to eat them or again freeze them uncooked. The added benefit of mince pies is that you get a really lovely smell in you home as they cook or you defrost them too!

You don't need to buy everything fresh, despite what people say. Frozen Vegetables, frozen Turkey, frozen puddings are all acceptable if that is what you want. I have used a mix of frozen and fresh vegetables over the last eight years and I have never had a fresh Turkey, but have always brought a frozen one!

The label from my Frozen Turkey, so I would remember how long to cook it for

The benefit of frozen food for me is that I can buy food in advance of a big event that I know that we will want or will use when I see it reduced or on special offer. I can then put this item into the freezer and everything is fine when I then get it out for the meal and it cost less than I was budgeting for.

A Bowl of youghurt with frozen fruit topping

Christmas cakes aren't that expensive anymore, you can easily buy a good quality decorated cake (or if you prefer an undecorated cake that you can then decorate yourself). When you take into consideration the cost of the ingredients of making a cake from scratch it does normally work out a lot cheaper... unfortunatley with Daddy being a celiac and me not touching food with alcohol in it buying a Christmas cake suitable for us both is very expensive even with my thrifty searching the cheapest I have found is £15! This is why I am making a Christmas cake using value ingredients. I will also make a second small sponge cake for Top Ender as she isn't one for fruit cake. If your family is the same a sponge cake works out a lot cheaper than a fruit cake and you can still ice it in the same way!

Of course if you don't like Christmas Cake you can always make a mincemeat cake;

Grease and line an 8in round cake tin. Preheat oven to160 C.

Mix together 8oz self raising flour, 12oz sweet mincemeat, 3oz dried fruit mix, 3 eggs, 5oz soft margarine and 5oz soft brown sugar. Beat until well blended. Spoon into tin and sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Bake for 1hr 15 minutes until well risen and firm to touch. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and then turn out on to rack.

Then you can ice it as you would a Christmas cake or just leave it. It tastes lovely and as you can use up the last of your mincemeat from the Mince pies it is being frugal too!

A shopping list of everything food wise that you need over the Christmas period, will save you a fortune. If you can make a meal plan of the food that you are going to eat you will know what you need to buy, and won't be worried that the shops are closed for a whole 24 hours and you don't have enough food. It also means that you can buy one or two items a week in the run up to Christmas and spread the cost.

I like to make a menu for Christmas Day with several choices for breakfast, starters and puddings. Then a week before Christmas I start to ask what everyone would like from the choices I have given. I can then add the missed choices into my menu plan for the rest of the Christmas Week. It means that I can make things work in my favour even if everyone does want a different breakfast on Christmas Morning!

The other benefit of a menu plan is you can pre-think what you are going to do with your leftovers. You might have bubble and squeak for tea on Christmas Day (or breakfast the next day!), you might have turkey and stuffing sandwiches for lunch on Boxing day or Turkey Curry on the 27th, but what ever you decide you can make sure you use up all that you have brought!

Omlette made using up leftover vegetables and ham

A lot of people I know have a traditional take away on Christmas Eve, we try to have one on New Years Eve. One thing that hardly anyone ever does is to ask for a discount on this, or at any time of the year to be honest! A lot of places offer a discount if you pick up your own meal or if you order over a certain amount of money... be cheeky and ask you'll never know until you ask!

The last thing I want to mention is not to be afraid to go into so called discount stores, or the Value Brands. Aldi, Lidl, Farmfoods, Netto and Poundland are all stores that I have been into buy food from and Tescos, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsburys all have good quality value ranges! Not one of them has ever failed me and this year Good House Keeping guide has done the hard work for you and have come up with a shopping list using value products for a full Christmas meal.

Good Housekeeping Christmas Dinner Shopping List

Well that is all that I can think of at the moment so I wish you a frugal Christmas and if you missed my previous frugal posts go take a look at my Christmas Gifts and the idea of being frugal post and whilst you are at it why not take a look at my Frugal Christmas Entertainment post whilst I wish you a frugal Christmas!