‘Easiest’ swaps to save money on your Christmas dinner as costs rise

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December is arguably the most costly time of year, with a long list of gifts, social events, and of course, the Christmas dinner ingredients all known to put pressure on people’s finances. Just as you may have noticed an increase in the price of your weekly shop, the cost of buying a traditional Turkey and all the trimmings has also gone up. According to an expert at Legal and General, households need to spend £90 more this year to match the same goods and quantities enjoyed in 2019, but exactly how much should you expect to fork out for your festive food?

How much does Christmas dinner cost?

With the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation up by 10.7 percent since December 2021, financial experts at Legal and General have revealed that households should expect to pay an average of £620 more this year to enjoy the festivities, without any sacrifices. 

This is £90 more than what was spent in 2019, and £60 greater than what most people “expected” to spend this year. While this includes everything from alcohol and food to other goods and services, the cost of the dinner itself has also risen significantly.

According to the financial services company, food and non-alcoholic drinks are expected to cost households £124.37 on average this year, up from £111.55 in 2021 and £94.56 in 2020 – though these costs vary depending on the number of people you’re catering for.

New research from the team at www.alertr.co.uk found that a traditional Christmas dinner for a family of six will cost around £63.52, compared to £59.71 last year.

While this is an increase of just £4.02, it represents a rise of almost 6.5 percent. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the amount you have to spend on your festive dinner by making a few frugal swaps.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Alex Hodges, money expert at MoneySuperMarket said: “Christmas can be an expensive time and lots of us are looking for alternative ways to manage costs whilst still being able to celebrate.”

Choose turkey alternatives

Alex explained that the price comparison site’s research found that opting for chicken rather than turkey is proving to be a popular choice this year with 12 percent of those surveyed making this change.

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He said: “With food prices soaring in general, this is a tasty swap that could mean households can also enjoy some extra trimmings, like pigs in blankets. For those still planning on a turkey dinner, frozen birds could be a cheaper alternative.”

Choosing the cheapest ingredients is another way to save money, and choosing the most budget-friendly supermarket is the best place to start.

Shop smart

Data from www.alertr.co.uk found that Asda has been revealed as the cheapest supermarket for your Christmas dinner food shop for the third year in a row, costing £55.90 for a family of six.

Tesco was found to be the second cheapest supermarket (£58.60), while Waitrose was deemed the most expensive with a basket costing £73.81 (£17.91 more than Asda).

While discount retailers, such as Lidl and Aldi, were not included in the research for the cheapest branded items, they may be cheaper for non-label ingredients.

Don’t peel vegetables

Changing the way you cook is also worthwhile if you’re trying to make your money go further. Anna Tebbs, Head Chef at Green Chef, told Express.co.uk that it is as simple as not peeling your vegetables.

She said: “Not only will this save on food waste, but the peel on vegetables such as carrots and potatoes have a whole host of nutrients in – definitely better on your plate than in the bin. And why not save any stalks or peels to make your own vegetable stock.”

Plan ahead

According to the Green Chef expert, the “easiest way to make savings on the festive food shop is to plan ahead”.

She recommended looking back at previous years to see what was and wasn’t your family’s fan favourite and cutting out the extra dishes, instead of trying to fill your table with everything and anything. Anna added: “Remember less is more and quality over quantity!”

Embrace leftovers

No matter how much you try to plan and condense your Christmas dinner, there will usually be some leftovers taking up space in the fridge the following day.

The chef noted that now is a “great time to get creative” and use up those leftovers to make entirely new meals. In the days after Christmas, these can be used to feed visiting family and friends without needing to head to the shops again.

Anna recommended trying dishes like ham and cranberry pie, festive pizza with all the trimmings or even a turkey curry to “revamp up the ingredients in a new and tasty way”.

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