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Help - Xmas entertaining on a budget

(20 Posts)
starfish4 Thu 23-Oct-14 14:49:14

Money is really tight this year and we don't want to tell family. I know I have a few weeks, but worrying about the cost of food. Can anyone give me any ideas foodwise how to feed everyone cheaply. Typically xmas entertaining is:

Xmas Eve - we usually spend with another family and have various frozen party packs to keep it quick and simple. It's our turn this year and won't get back until teatime so needs to be quick.

Xmas Day and Boxing Day - Mum one day, MIL the other. We're going to buy a turkey breast which hoping to string out both days. My DD and me normally have fish on Xmas Day (one won't eat turkey, the other prefers fish). For both days we can keep it simple with just roasters, carrots, sproats, maybe stuffing for Xmas day. Ideally xmas pud afterwards. If anyone has any suggestions on how we can cut back on any of this or buy any foods cheaper, that would be appreciated.

Both Mum and MIL will be around for tea, and we'll have to have my sister-in-law's family for tea sometime. I've bought a Lidl stolen cake and some cheap coke already, I'm hoping to buy a pack of Lidl's ham for £1.49 (think it has 10/12 large slices), Lidl quiche and cheese and can obviously get some Tescos value bread. What else can I buy cheaply, bearing in mind I have three lots of tea.

I need to do catering within our weekly food budget (which I've just cut back), so thinking about getting the odd thing each week even if it's just some Tescos value tortilla crisps for 49p.

OH has just made some homemade wine, not sure what visitors will think though.

123upthere Thu 23-Oct-14 15:03:21

Xmas eve entertaining friends will bw be where Id spend most as at least with family they won't expect a lot of fancy food will they?

I'd be researching cheap & simple prosecco deals on multi buys

maybe a huge warming soup then casserole & garlic bread laid out buffet style

make a simple huge cheesecake ( just need own brand digestives, own brand cream cheese etc) jelly ice cream go old school! ?
- meringues/Eton mess in a big bowl
- apple pie
- custard in a jug

Freezer food to make/buyin advance: for the other family guests:
- ham to slow cook is buy one in November and one in December
- Do you like baking quiches/savoury tarts to make & have in freezer?
- Soups can keep in freezer
- chicken drumsticks in a marinade own brand are fine
- garlic breads are cheap
- sacks of potatoes from any local farms quite cheap same with eggs for quiches etc


agoodbook Thu 23-Oct-14 19:56:59

I see PP has suggested it, but a large gammon would do both days - I always do one every year, ( luckily mines an extra ) and there may even be some leftovers if careful. They freeze well so just look out for special offers on them- they will start shortly. Or make do with a smaller turkey, and make sausages wrapped with bacon to go with it. On a slightly different bent- have you tried local markets for your veg and such? I go to a local farmers market, and my potatoes cost me £5 for a 25kg - miles cheaper than the supermarkets, and its the same for veg . Do you have any nectar points/ loyalty cards ? I save my nectar points all year for buying extra bits for Xmas.And on a more serious note- is it worth asking Mum and MIL to maybe make the pud or something ( you don't need to say for cost, but that you are finding time short?) In my family as its large, we nearly always take something with us, or ask what wants doing so we can chip in. Ooh- just checking and saw some of the same suggestions ! smile

MrsPnut Thu 23-Oct-14 20:05:04

Make your own sausage rolls with homemade rough puff pastry, Delia's recipe is pretty good.
I also buy chicken wings and marinade them in soy, honey and ginger before slinging them in the oven. I do tend to look out for reduced bargains on any kind of meat to stash in the freezer. Pork spare ribs are also fairly cheap and easy to transform.

MrsPnut Thu 23-Oct-14 20:13:37

I actually wouldn't bother with Turkey if you are trying to cut costs. Chicken is far cheaper or I would look out for a reduced piece or two of beef and some gammon joints.

LadySybilLikesCake Thu 23-Oct-14 20:18:56

You could start buying dry food and cans/snacks bit by bit from now so you don't need to get them later, crisps and snacks a little later though so you don't eat them. A couple of hams (go for the basic ones, not the ones fancied up for Christmas). Chicken is great, you don't need to spend loads. Frozen ones are cheaper then fresh ones and taste the same.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 24-Oct-14 09:27:18

I'd swallow your pride and tell your family that you're hard up. There's no shame in it. . Make the various meals a team effort by getting people to bring things along, or at least get a financial contribution

starfish4 Fri 24-Oct-14 13:06:38

Thanks for your replies, it gives me something to work with and I can work out where to get a couple of things cheaper.

It's a bit tricky with family, if we tell my Mum we have problems she'll think we're after her money.(not an easy character!). In all fairness my MIL gave us a lump sum to help when we moved earlier this year and we don't want to tell her survey was vague in that things could go wrong in weeks or years, unfortunately it's months and we need every penny. I suppose we're just trying to keep up appearances with everyone else.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 25-Oct-14 09:37:42

Isn't it normal for guests to turn up with a contribution? I always get 'can I bring anything?' from family and I would always ask if the roles were reversed. Doesn't mean they can't afford the food or they think I can't afford it.

You're looking at severely chopping back your food budget & living on rubbish for the next few weeks when all you need do is ask someone to bring a pudding & someone else to bring cheese and biscuits. Seems like a lot of unnecessary sacrifice just to save face.

PotteringAlong Sat 25-Oct-14 09:46:22

Do chicken not turkey.

Value stuffing is fine.

Do homemade soup and bread for Christmas Eve - you can make it in advance and freeze it.

PotteringAlong Sat 25-Oct-14 09:47:42

Lottie4 Tue 28-Oct-14 10:29:15

I'm looking at this tread as we're in a similar situation, and a bit worried.

For xmas eve, can you buy some value or cheap sausage rolls, get an extra bag of those value Tortilla crisps you mention and Tescos do value peanuts, maybe have some cheap mince pies. Tescos also do a value pizza for £1, which can be cut up into small slices. Offer things around every now and again rather than put on the table for a massive feed..

For tea you could tell both Mums that you're keeping it really simple as you want to spend the afternoon/evening with them instead of spending ages in the kitchen, so you'll just be putting out bread/cheese/ham or whatever, and if they particularly want something else that's easy perhaps they could bring it along. It'll sound positive you want to spend time with them, but at the same time you're dropping a gentle hint for them to bring something if that's not enough.

We've got both of ours together, so at least that's only one day to worry about. We'll only be cooking what we're putting on their plates and no more. If money permits I'll be raiding Lidl for their part baked crusty bread (39P for two), large cheese (£1.75), maybe some ham as you mention or Tescos value eggs to serve boiled, I'll probably get a large bag of cheap crisps and some tomatoes, cucumber cut up on the side. Also, some mince pies.

For you sister-in-law's family, hopefully there is some cheese/ham/eggs left over from the above that you can make into some sandwiches, keep half the crisps for them and again a few veg slices and mince pies, or perhaps a sponge cake. Again tell them you've kept it simple with eating so much else over the Xmas period and also as you want to spend max amount of time with them.

If any of them like a drink, tell them you're been good and limiting alcohol this Xmas so it'll just be squash/coke/tea/coffee. If they really want a drink, they might turn up with a bottle!

We've recently cut our food spending by quite a bit, but I'm going to try and cut back another £2 a week, so I have a bit extra in December.

acharmofgoldfinches Tue 28-Oct-14 11:18:55

I'm trying to cut our food bills down too.

Maybe try using more veg and less meat in a meal - for us the best bits of xmas dinner are the roast potatoes (carrots and parsnips also roast really well and taste amazing), and for the stuffing I buy the main brand but then add my own onions and garlic and a bit of lemon juice. We then have a small chicken (two breasts and two legs feeds four of us, just), and I make stock from whatever is left, which gets used to make soup later.

If you have time then making some of your own snacky bits is cheaper than buying them, we especially love cheese straws which are easy to make, and if you use very strong cheddar you don't need much so they cost pennies. Also supermarket frozen sausage rolls - you can get them in bags of about 50 - which get a little brush of either sweet chilli sauce or Worcestershire sauce (or anything else you like!) before they go into the oven.

I've also switched to meals where the main ingredients are filling and nutritious but where you only need a small amount of the more expensive ingredients; cheese and potato pie (basically mash with cheese grated in), pasta with home-made sauce (fried onions, tin of chopped tomatoes for the basic sauce, then add a tin of tuna, or mince, or more veg as you prefer), and I make veg soup about once a week. I don't have a lot of time so none of these takes more than about fifteen minutes.

After Christmas you can pick xmas puds up for no money - this year we will be having a very posh one which I bought last January for £2. Same goes for crackers which are fun but not exactly essential - a few days after Christmas/New Year the shops can't give them away; you just have to remember where you put them!

ireallydontlikemonday Tue 28-Oct-14 13:48:32

I definitely think gammon is the way forward - they have big ones on offer at the moment in Tesco if you have a freezer, although the dates would probably last at this point anyway.

Roast gammon and all the veg

Gammon sandwiches

Gammon and leek pie, you could add chicken or turkey if you wanted too - chicken thighs would be relatively cheap.

Gammon mac and cheese

Gammon and white bean soup

Lottie4 Tue 28-Oct-14 14:41:51

Just had another thought re: your friends Xmas Eve. I'm making a veggie chilli bake for guests this week, which can be made earlier in the day and just put in oven as and when - all I'll put in it is onion, half red pepper, can tomatoes, can kidney beans and pasta with breadcrumbs. Will probably serve with crusty bread. All ingredients will be Tescos value if poss, so whole meal will be no more than £1.70. If you've got more than four including kids, you could always get a Tescos value pizza for £1, just hide the packaging and no one will know.

TaffyandTeenyTaffy Tue 28-Oct-14 16:49:09

I have recently bought the Iceland joints in a tin - which are on offer 4 for £10 - only tried the chicken one so far but it was surprisingly nice - I also have gammon and turkey - you could bulk up with home made Yorkshire puds and roasties - and use the leftovers for sandwiches or cold cuts with crusty bread and pickles.

Petallic Tue 28-Oct-14 16:56:03

If you can handle the stress of it, 3pm supermarket shopping on Xmas Eve is good for party food at super cheap prices. You won't get a turkey then but every year I've been there is always masses of party food trays in the oops section.

ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 11:33:54

I'd also ask every guest to bring something - perfectly acceptable!

JamNan Wed 29-Oct-14 12:48:35

I know a family who does bangers 'n mash for a big informal family meal over Christmas. All served up with homemade pickles, salad and brown sauce.
You could also make a potato dauphinoise, braised red cabbage or celery or kale, that can be made in advance and just do some sausages in the oven when you get in.

Another family does kedgeree. And another does a huge breakfast fry up.

What about a big bubble n squeak? It can be made the day before. Add some eggs in to coddle for the last few minutes.

Pulled pork and red cabbage slaw with mayo in buns is also cheap and goes a long way.

I see some of you like fish - what about a big yummy fish pie? You can buy fish trimmings or a fish pie mix. Add hard boiled eggs to pad it out and serve with peas/spinach/greens.

Think peasant food. It doesn't have to all about itsy bitsy fancie-naice ham sarnies, vol aux vonts, or a big fuck-off turkey.

And ask people to bring something.

Unescorted Thu 30-Oct-14 16:11:06

Roasted spiced chick peas instead of nuts... tin of chick peas, rinsed coated in what ever spices you have in the cupboard mixed with a little brown sugar, couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic and bung it all in a hot oven. Stir a couple of times..... keeps for ages in a jar so you could do them in advance.

Aldi do cheap nuts, crisps etc I jazz the nuts up with the same method as the chickpeas

2nd cheesy straws...

Homemade crackers and oatcakes for a cheese board are also really easy. GBBO masterclass had a recipe the other week - had sundried tomato paste, but you could just use tomato puree for a cheaper version

Onion bread - pizza dough with well fried onions on. If you are feeling posh slice anchovies lengthwise and arrange in a lattice.

Spring rolls from Chinese supermarket - the ones in Manchester do frozen ones for �3.50 for 60.

You can tell I have the same problem with my family.

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