Wondering how to make your dollar go further this Christmas and NOT blow it all on Christmas lunch? Here are some clever swaps you can make so you can deliver a gorgeous lunch, and keep some money in your pocket, without quashing your Christmas spirit – or appetite.
It’s easy to get carried away and be tempted into buying all the Christmas food options at the supermarket. Costs can blow out as quickly as post-lunch waistbands so it’s wise to have a plan before you even start.
Just because you might be watching your money and pinching pennies doesn’t mean your lunch can’t be a special one. You CAN have an incredible lunch even on the tightest of budgets with a few good budget-friendly swaps!
7 ways to save money on Christmas lunch
1. Be seafood savvy
The seafood counter can be a real money trap, but you don’t have to go without it. Instead of feasting on prawns as a free for all main course, make them go further by portioning them into smaller tasters.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: Buy fresh prawns to make small prawn cocktail entrees or prawn and pineapple skewers for the bbq. If you’re looking for a real bargain, keep your eye out for bags of frozen prawns on special for even more savings.
2. Minimise the meat
Whoever said that variety is the spice of life, clearly wasn’t paying for Christmas lunch. Instead of excessively buying a whole turkey, a massive leg of ham, or a whole roast, think smaller amounts. You’ll automatically reap the savings and limit wastage or having to store leftovers).
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: A turkey breast roll is not only delicious but also much easier to cook and less expensive than a whole bird. You can also swap the expense of a leg of ham for buying a boneless ham or freshly shaved ham off the bone at the supermarket deli. The best bit? No waste or bone weight!
3. Keep sides seasonal and save
The cost of living crisis combined with flooding has seen fresh produce prices skyrocket this year. A lot of money can be spent on making salads and side dishes, so choose carefully. As a rule, anything out of season will cost significantly more at the checkout. At this time of year, you’ll find asparagus, capsicum, cucumber, green beans, avocado, radish, lettuce, snow peas, sweet corn, zucchini and more all in season.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: Shop the specials, shop what’s in season and hit the frozen vegetable freezer where you can. Also, consider pre-prepared salads. It sometimes works out cheaper than buying all the ingredients individually. You can buy two bags of Woolworths Finely Shredded Coleslaw for just $5. Just tip into a bowl and you’re done!
4. Cheap but incredibly cheerful desserts
Dessert is my weakness and the part of my Christmas lunch where I traditionally adopt the more choices, the better kind of attitude. Regardless of if you’re having one dessert or three, to keep on budget, choose desserts that are inexpensive to make. Inexpensive desserts include pavlova, chocolate mousse, and panna cotta just to name a few.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: Traditional Christmas cakes and puddings can be pricey, so consider how much you really want them this Christmas. Having said that, Coles Finest Luxury Christmas Pudding was given the top spot as best tasting Christmas pudding by Choice – and it’s just $12!
5. Small and cute cheese boards
It’s the season for cheeseboards but you don’t have to make them so huge they’re a meal in themselves. Keep your cheeseboards small and cute instead of heaving with extras and being overwhelming.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: It pays to have a look at the cheese selection in Aldi as their prices are surprisingly quite reasonable! Alternatively, just look for special sale prices at your local supermarket. Also, if you don’t have soft cheese, do you really need crackers? Choose hard cheeses all the way and save money on crackers!
6. Ask your guests to bring something
If you’re having family and friends guests, ask them to bring something to help out. Most of us know how much effort and expense a celebration lunch is and want to bring something to say thank you to the host, so let it be something useful.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: Ask guests to bring a salad or dessert to share or even a bottle of wine or two. I promise it won’t be a big deal to ask – your friends and family DO want to contribute to Christmas lunch!
7. Skip the table fanfare and save
Pinterest and Instagram are the Grinch for making us think that we have to have some kind of winter-wonderland-meets -Meghan-Markle-wedding like Christmas tablescape and frankly, we do not, especially where the budget is concerned. Skip buying new tablecloths, napkins, napkin rings, centerpieces, charger plates, cutlery, and so forth, saving the cash and your Christmas budget will thank you.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: Lay the table with your favourite pieces you already own, pluck some flowers from the garden and add some bonbons to pull and share. For a festive touch, use a roll of Christmas wrapping paper for a festive table runner!
There you go folks, with a few wise swaps and with planning, you can absolutely have a gorgeous Christmas lunch and save some money along the way. Remember, Christmas is all about enjoying the company of family and friends, not so much excessive and indulgent feasting. Good food, good company and not blowing the budget – what a way to see the year out!
If you have some Christmas lunch money saving tips of your own, drop them in the comments below, we’d love to hear them – and you might just be helping out others too!