Food… and other Christmas balls

Okay this isn’t JUST about food…it can really be applied in general as well. Most of these are just plain logical… BUT, are easily forgotten when silly season starts in December. The trick? Don’t shop in December… plan ahead.

  1. Don’t Up shift the brands you buy at Christmas. Seldom is there a difference between Tescos own brand and Tescos finest that warrants spending that much more. On that note you can save a considerable amount if you usually by branded products, try down shifting to save money. Quite often the less expensive brands are produced in the same place as their more famous counterparts. For our forcemeat we plan to use cheap shop own brand sausages… why buy expensive sausages when, once mixed and cooked (with sage and onion), you cant taste the difference??? 84p for the sausages + 15p for the sage and onion = 99p
  2. More is more and less is less… why buy more than you need? It’s temping to giving in to the frenzy that happens in store in December as shopper madly grab at anything on the shelf, whether they need it or not. This includes getting something free or half price when you buy one or two…. Do you really need that extra one? If not then it’s a waste of food/ drink and money. We’re clearing out the bottom drawer in the freezer and I’m buying our meat and veg now, in September. The meat freezes easily. The root vegetables, broccoli, onions etc can be chopped, blanched in salted water, freeze them spread out on a tray (so they don’t stick together), and then placed in a bag in the freezer draw. £1.71 Large Turkey Drum stick (sufficient for the 5 of us) + £2 vegetables (I buy the £1.50 mixed veg bag from our local grocer and then top up on the carrots) = £3.71
  3. Doing It Yourself, can save you money, whether its food, entertainment, gifts or decorations. Meals, appetisers, desserts designed to save you time can often drain your wallet. Quite often you can save money by making these from scratch the night before. I’m making our Christmas pudding myself… there’s no great mystery to it and I’ll have to buy in little if anything that’s not in our cupboards already.
  4. Nowhere to park your car? Why not shop online? is a great example of a comparison site if you like to do you weekly grocery shopping at places like Asda, Tesco, Simsbury’s and Ocado. They also show you what price reductions are in effect and show you any codes you may need for further bargains/ reductions.  Unfortunately it doesn’t include stores like Aldi/ Lidl or Netto etc, but I must admit, its allot easier when it comes to buying clothing for the kids (wellies, uniform etc) than catching a couple of buses and a loooong walk with 3 tired children in a very wet Yorkshire winter. Then I don’t mind paying the £2.95+ for some nice dry van to deliver the goods to my door… also nice and warm and dry. We bought the kids winter woollies and wellies this week, another expense! But the joy of online shopping was that I could browse 4 or 5 difference stores simultaneously while washing up, watching TV and doing some dusting… and then make my choice when it suited me…there was no mad rush, no traipsing down town in the rain… it was calm, slow and came with a hot cup of tea and a sit down at the end. BARGAIN! Some words of warning to shopping online… Make sure the store you want to buy from delivers to your area, Check when the last deliveries are being made before Christmas, Don’t be tempted to impulse click… Do you really need it… if not scroll on!
  5. What… no alcohol??? Ummm, no not really. We’re not GREAT drinkers…. But we will be buying that wee bottle of brandy for the Christmas pudding… soooo… well; we wouldn’t want it to go to waste! Would we?! This, rather predictably, will be the greatest expense, unless I can get my hands on one of those wee bottles you can buy on airplanes… But on the more positive side… what isn’t used this year can hang around a dark cupboard until next year… and not doubt the year after. The booze can be expensive… and as with many so many things, it’s probably best in moderation.
  6. Puddings and snacks?? Hey I’m not hanging about… I’m planning my wartime Christmas pudding NOW! I’ll need to if I’m going to give it time to breath (and add a tot of brandy to it every week). I found an awesome recipe from Marguerite Patten (of course). Above the usual rations (and store cupboard essentials) all I’ll have to buy is our usual 75p 1kg of oats (obviously wont need all of them for the pudding) and 8oz of mixed dried fruit (226g +- & points rations). That should mean a really low cost Christmas pudding. I’d like to do a wartime Christmas log as well, its thrifty and tasty BUT that will depend on how many eggs we have… as this recipe uses 3 of them L We may have to downgrade the log to an extra thrifty toffee apple pudding.
  7. Snack wise… will be ever thrifty and low calorie popcorn (26p worth gets you 2 to 3 large bowls full from the weigh and save… also doubling as décor when strung up…  cheaper than tinsel and less mess, plus we can eat the evidence), biscuits and nibbles from our recipe section and Mr C is just DYING to try out his thoughts on home made cheese and onion potato crisps … and cheesy biscuit bites£5 Total spend on pudding and snacks (at the most… if that)… as we still have to think of our rations as well as our budget.

Soooo… Casa de ration…Total so far…

  • Turkey Drumstick £1.71 (at Asda… although Tesco does do one for just over £2)
  • Vegetables £2 (£150 mixed veg bag + some extra carrots… veg bag usually includes a cauli/ broccoli, half a large cabbage or a swede, some onions, a few large potatoes and 4 to 5 large carrots.)
  • Sausages to make forcemeat 84p
  • Asda smart price sage and onion stuffing (to add to sausage meat… our sage and onion we make ourselves) 15p
  • An apple for the forcemeat…. Up to 30p… sadly I have no idea what the apple will cost….as it depends what English apples I can find… put this way… I’m not spending more than 30p on 1 apple!!!
  • (Yorkshire pudding ingredients will already be in larder)
  • DINNER TOTAL SPENT £5… Knowing we’re ahead of the mad rush, eating well and wasting nothing…Priceless!
  • (I’m basing most of the ingredients on Asda prices… If I can shop around and pay less… I will)

Dinner £5 + Pudding/ nibbles £5 = Five fed for £10


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