There’s nothing more annoying than people kicking off the Christmas frenzy in September. Or October. Even November, for that matter. But now we’re safely into December, it seems reasonable enough to start the countdown. Here’s my first seasonal post, about cutting the cost of your Christmas dinner.
In the far-distant days before Christianity came along, people celebrated the winter solstice with feasting and revelling, thanking the old pagan Gods for keeping them safe and fed. Then Christians hijacked the ancient festival and made it their own, often building churches right on top of pagan places of worship in an effort to stamp out the old ways.
This time of year has been set aside for feasting and celebrating for millennia. And whether you’re religious or not, the solstice is a jolly good excuse to let your hair down! But there’s no real need to go completely mental!
While retailers would love us all to go beserk and empty our bank accounts, I prefer to rebel against the worst of the excesses. Food waste is enough of a scandal already without us adding to it. Here are some ideas for managing the cost of your Christmas dinner or, as we prefer to call it, Solstice dinner.
- plan the meal carefully in advance so you know exactly how much food to buy based on the number of people you’re feeding
- buy enough food to feed your guests generously – but not so much that you end up wasting it
- buy turkey steaks or breasts instead of a whole bird. Turkey is delicious but it isn’t much fun having to eat it several days in a row. It costs less to cook, too
- buy organic free range turkey and other meat – because it doesn’t contain added water there’s a lot more meat for your money and it’s also free from nasty chemical additives and antibiotics
- buy food supplies well in advance to avoid the seasonal chaos and price hikes
- buy online – because it’s as boring as hell it’s much easier to resist impulse buying temptation
- use mysupermarket.com to compare supermarket prices and get the best possible deal on your seasonal shopping spree
- take full advantage of 3 for 2 and bogoff offers – they really come into their own at this time of year
- buy own-brand goods wherever you can. Just because it’s Xmas there’s no need to spend a fortune on expensive brands… smart packaging doesn’t mean better quality, it just means you pay more for the packaging. If a brand advertises a lot, you pay for the advertising as well as the food
- buy bargain booze. Friends of ours always bring two bottles of wine to parties. One bottle is pretty good, and we drink it first. By the time we open the cheaper bottle we couldn’t care less about how it tastes!
- buy seasonal veg, which is cheaper and tastes better because it hasn’t travelled half way around the planet before it reaches the shops. And steer clear of pre-packed foods, which are almost always more expensive than fresh
- look out for money-off coupons and food discount codes
- you supply the meat, get your guests to bring one dinner ingredient plus a bottle of booze each