Christmas in certain aspects is tacky with glitter and tinsel everywhere, but that’s why we love it. Bringing everyone together to enjoy each other’s company over a celebratory meal is the most nostalgic part of any Christmas celebration. But there is no need to make it more complicated and expensive than this time of year already is.
A disastrous lunch usually results in more tears from the host than a child with a broken toy on Christmas day. In our experience, spending half an hour planning your meal properly ahead of time, will produce more cost savings compared to spending those same thirty minutes searching around for the cheapest items in-store instead. So we recommend keeping it simple and using a combination of the following tips to lower the costs and make the whole process more manageable with these Christmas lunch ideas.
Being a period of indulgent behaviour, we as a nation have a habit of buying and wasting food. More is always better right? Wrong. It's reported that the average Australia household wastes / throws away $1,036 p.a of consumables with a large portion of that potentially being linked to Christmas time.
A good tip in the run up to Christmas before you go out buying or restocking any low levels of food items, is to try and use up old produce first. People tend to get so caught up with the Christmas cheer, that it’s only after the festivities they realise a load of foodstuffs have expired. A useful website I like to use running up to the night before Christmas is SuperCook.com, it allows you to enter a bunch of ingredients that you want to use up after which it recommends recipes related to them.
Moving on to the lunch, its always a good idea to keep things simple, avoid too much variety and focus on getting the basics right with tried and tested lunches. Popular trends are cold legs of ham, fresh lettuce and tomato salads and creamy potato salads. A quick search online for a ham showed that Woolies have the best price for a 4kg half leg, priced at $23.96 or $5.99 per 1kg. This price beats Coles and Aldi. If its potatoes you need, then utilise the Woolies “Odd Bunch” campaign to get disfigured fruit and veg for cheaper prices, like their 1kg of potatoes for $2.98.
There are also ways to reduce costs by not bearing the full financial burden if you are planning on hosting a large number of people. Asking family and friends to bring complimentary items to your lunch is perfectly acceptable. Or, if you're uncomfortable asking family members to bring prepared dishes, you can always ask them to bring alcohol, mince pies or other condiments. Most guests will be happy to bring something so guide them towards items that will reduce your costs as well as the length of time you'll need to spend in the kitchen preparing everything. Otherwise, if you're planning on buying at least some of the booze yourself, BWS have a great deal at the moment (ends on the 23rd) on three bottles of Sauvignon Blanc for only $27 (which at Dan Murphys would cost you $42).
A cheap compliment to any Christmas lunch, or for any meal over the Christmas period in fact, is a salad which offers variety to a dish at a relatively low cost. Also, when choosing your meats for the lunch, don’t pressure yourself into buying multiple options as most of us end up doing - and which often ends up being the biggest portion of the leftovers. One turkey or one ham will usually suffice. Another tip in this respect would be to buy a larger ham for example, cut it in half and then serve one side as is straight out of the oven while the other could be honey glazed with bacon strips on top (to add variety to the meat portion of the lunch). If the ham is large enough, you could even slice it into three and keep the 3rd part for another meal at some point in the near future - i.e. getting two meals from a single purchase.
Ultimately, Christmas is a happy time of year with little need for extra stress and woe around the meal time sit down with special friends and family. So, if you have to head out this weekend to get the ingredients for your meal, I'll reiterate our final word of advice which is to plan your meal properly before going to make your purchases. Start by writing down what’s on your menu while on a separate page write down all the necessary ingredients. Then, before heading out into the shopping centre mayhem, check what you do and don’t already have, to avoid needing to pop out again after your big shop. This will not only save you time and money, but also any unwanted stress.
Happy Christmas shopping and cooking!