10 ways to cut the cost of your Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner is usually the most expensive meal of the year. And with food prices on the up, it can make a serious dent in households finances.

Knowing how to save money on your grocery shopping is important all year round. But with many households looking for ways to cut the cost of festivities this year, we’ve got 10 ways you can cut the cost of your Christmas dinner.  

And for general Christmas shopping savers, see easy ways to cut costs this Christmas.

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1. Stock up at the cheapest supermarket

You can save money on your Christmas grocery shopping by shopping at the cheapest supermarket. It may sound simple, but changing from your usual shop can pay off.

Most of us don’t have time to run between supermarkets to compare prices. But luckily, we’ve crunched the numbers and worked out which supermarket has the cheapest Christmas dinner. Alternatively, you can do your own comparison on the Trolley app.

This free app compares prices across most of the major supermarkets and claims you could save as much as 30% on your shopping.  

2. Ditch brands for supermarket own versions

Swapping brand names for supermarket own versions often saves you money. And in many cases, you likely won’t notice any difference in taste.

For example, picking up a pack of Paxo Sage and Onion Stuffing mix (170g), which is enough to make 12 balls of stuffing, costs £1.50-£2.40 depending on the supermarket. However, you can save around £1 or more per packet, if you switch to Tesco’s own sage and onion stuffing mix (170g), which costs just 45p.

When it comes to cranberry sauce, an all-important Christmas addition in many households, once again you can save swapping brands for the supermarket version.

The branded Ocean Spray sauce (250g) can cost £1.19-£1.75 depending on the supermarket. The cheapest own brand versions we found were from Aldi and Morrisons at half the price. Aldi’s sauce costs 55p for 200g and Morrisons’ sauce is 59p for 200g. 

3. Look out for deals during December and stock up

Spread the cost and save money by snapping up deals on non-perishable food for Christmas during December. This could include your mince pies, Christmas pudding or frozen pigs in blankets. 

For example, right now Tesco has a deal on frozen packs of pigs in blankets. Each pack of 12 (240g) normally costs £3 each, but Clubcard holders can buy three packs for £6. While Morrisons More customers can buy two packs of its deep-filled mince pies for £4 (saving £1 on the normal price). 

It’s also worth checking our regularly updated list of Supermarket discount vouchers and coupons for the latest deals.

4. Make the most of loyalty cards

If you’ve got a supermarket loyalty card, you can make savings on some of the key Christmas dinner ingredients, with some prices reduced for card holders.   

Doing your big Christmas shop in one store could earn you a voucher for your next shop too. For example, with the Lidl Plus app, if you spend over £250 a month, you can get 10% off your next shop. And you can also get free items when spending £100 or more there each month.

Signing up to shopping apps can mean you can save money at the supermarket with supermarket discount vouchers and coupons. 

5. Take a chance on leaving your supermarket shop for Christmas Eve

If you are prepared to take a ‘pot luck’ ‘approach with your Christmas dinner this year, heading down to your local supermarket shortly before they close on Christmas Eve could mean big savings on fresh food as it’s sold off cheaply.

Looking out for ‘yellow sticker’ discounts is a good way to save all year. Although the ‘pot luck’ last-minute approach may not be for everyone at Christmas as it does mean taking a chance. 

6. Pounce on short-lived wine and fizz deals

It’s worth looking out for deals on wine and fizz as many supermarkets launch multi-buy offers during December. This is a good way to stock up on your festive booze for cheap.

Currently, Asda has a deal where you can save 25% when you buy six bottles of wine, sparkling wine or champagne. The offer ends at 11.59pm on 17 December. 

Tesco is running a similar deal where Clubcard holders can save 25% when buying six bottles of wine. It also ends on 17 December 

And you don’t have to break the bank to buy champagne. Aldi’s version usually comes out well in taste tests with Which?. You can buy its Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (75cl) for £14.99 and its premier version costs £21.99.

7. Get everyone to ‘bring a dish’

If you’re hosting Christmas dinner for all the family, you could share the cost by asking everyone to bring a dish.

While driving down the motorway with a tray of hot roast potatoes may not be a great idea, bringing packs of mince pies or Christmas puddings are easier to transport and can help share the cost.

Family or friends who live nearer may be able to bring round side dishes to help cut the cost. 

8. Swap out the turkey to slash costs

Swapping turkey for chicken could almost halve the cost according to our sums.

We found the price of a frozen medium basted whole turkey in Tesco, would cost around £5.13 per kg.   However, buying a whole extra large fresh chicken would cost you around £2.95 per kg; a saving of £2.18 per kg.

Serving a meat-free Christmas dinner and swapping turkey for a vegetarian alternative (even if you’re not vegetarian), could also slash your shopping bill. But if you are set on a turkey, frozen is generally cheaper than fresh, so opt for the frozen version if you can.

9. Split the bill for Christmas dinner

In some households, sharing the cost of Christmas dinner is becoming more common, as with costs rising, hosting a big family dinner can put a dent in your bank balance.

If it’s your ‘turn’ to host family and friends but you’re worried about the cost, you could always explain that while you’d love to do this, it would help with costs if everyone could chip in.

In this case, ask for a specific amount, rather than a donation. This saves awkwardness over how much to put in. 

10. Wait for the supermarket ‘veg wars’

Every year, supermarkets slash the price of their veg as we approach Christmas. So if you can hold off buying your veg until then, you can take advantage of the ‘supermarket veg wars’ to save cash. Last year, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Lidl kicked off veg wars in the week before Christmas by selling sprouts, potatoes, parsnips and carrots for around 19p a bag.  

Right now, we found prices are around £1 for 500g of sprouts. With parsnips, the best deals we found  is 55p for 500g of parsnips at both Morrisons and Aldi.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get exactly what you want, as some items may sell out fast, though you can also head to the freezer aisle or your local market if you still need extra supplies.

And finally, could you go without Christmas dinner?

We’re not suggesting you go hungry. But you could save time and money having a big breakfast and sticking with snacks, nibbles and serving frozen party food later in the day.

If you’ve got small children, they may be happier not to sit around the table for a big meal. And less time spent in the kitchen cooking means more time for playing games, going out for a family walk or catching up on Christmas movies.

We’ve done this a couple of times in our house. Last time round, we did smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for a late breakfast and had a cheeseboard and snacks later in the day. 

When it comes to budget snacks, there are plenty of deals on frozen party food including ‘3 for 2’ deals at most supermarkets.

At Iceland, you can pick up 3 packs of selected party food for £5. Buying a pack of sticky chicken skewers (144g), mozzarella sticks (240g) and cheese and ham calzones (300g) would usually cost £8.50, but you can save £3.50 with the £5 deal.