How to do a Christmas dinner on a budget

Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Between the presents, the gift wrap, the decorations, and maybe travelling across the country to see family, The Most Wonderful Time of The Year can be become, well, a pain in the backside. So we have come to the rescue. We want to help you have a lush Christmas dinner with your friends before heading home for the hols, but without emptying your account in the process. So here is how to do a Christmas dinner on a budget!

What do you need?

Well, the main components of a Christmas dinner are: meat (or alternative), veg, roasties, Yorkshire puds, stuffing, and gravy. On top of that, meat dependent, you may also want to add in cranberry sauce, horseradish, mint sauce or some other accompaniment.

We’ll show you 3 different budget-friendly Christmas dinners, a plant-based one, a chicken one and a traditional turkey dinner. The ingredients will be for a meal for 5 (although you may get some spare vegetables, perfect for bubble and squeak the next day!). All of these prices are from November 2020 at Tesco.

Dinner 1: Vegetarian

We’ve listed a Quorn roast for you, but there are plenty of other options for the meat element of the dish. You could make a tart, or you could find a nut roast instead. But this was the cheapest, and the least-fuss option we could find!

Quorn Roast
Source: Quorn

The main:

  • Vegetarian roast joint (Quorn family roast, £2.60, serves 5)

The veg:

The trimmings:

Optional extras:

  • Cauliflower cheese (Cauliflower: 69p each. Cheese sauce mix: 65p. Milk: 50p. Cheddar cheese: £1.79)
  • Accompaniments (bread sauce, cranberry sauce, mint sauce)
  • Extra vegetables (broccoli, sweetcorn, leeks)

Price without extras: £8.20

Dinner 2: Chicken

Chicken Roast
Source: Sainsburys

The main:

  • Chicken (950g, serves 6, £5)
    • we went for off the joint, as student housing quite often have smaller ovens, and it saves you the time and effort of carving the meat!

The veg:

The trimmings:

Optional extras:

  • Cauliflower cheese (Cauliflower: 69p each. Cheese sauce mix: 65p. Milk: 50p. Cheddar cheese: £1.79)
  • Accompaniments (bread sauce, cranberry sauce, mint sauce)
  • Extra vegetables (broccoli, sweetcorn, leeks)

Price without extras: £10.60

Dinner 3: Turkey

Turkey Dinner
Source: Minnesota Monthly

The main:

The veg:

The trimmings:

Optional extras:

  • Cauliflower cheese (Cauliflower: 69p each. Cheese sauce mix: 65p. Milk: 50p. Cheddar cheese: £1.79)
  • Accompaniments (bread sauce, cranberry sauce, mint sauce)
  • Extra vegetables (broccoli, sweetcorn, leeks)

Price without extras: £15.60

Recipes for your roasts!

Now you’ve got everything you need to cook the best Christmas dinner, here are some recipes that will please everyone at the table. Some of these require extra ingredients, but these are likely things you already have. If not, we’ve listed them and their prices below:

Roast potatoes:

Roast potatoes
Source: Kitchen Sanctuary
  1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius
  2. Peel and cut your potatoes into quarters or halves
  3. Pour an inch of oil into a baking tray, and place this in the oven
  4. Put the potatoes in a pan and cover in cold water
  5. Leave to boil, and then turn down to simmer for 8-9 minutes
  6. Drain the potatoes using a colander
  7. Shake in the colander to roughen the edges up
  8. Lightly dust with flour (if you like them particularly crunchy)
  9. Place potatoes in the now hot oil, rolling them to ensure complete coverage and return the tray to the oven
  10. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown

Honey and pepper roasted roots

Honey roast root veg
Source: IGA
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius
  2. Heat an inch of oil in a roasting tin
  3. Cut vegetables into strips
  4. Place the vegetables in the roasting tray, cook for 40-50 mins
  5. Take the tray out of the oven, stir in 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of pepper and some salt
  6. Cook for a further 5 minutes

Fried brussel sprouts

Brussel Sprouts
Source: Serious Eats
  1. Chop 6 rashers of bacon into bite-size pieces
  2. Dice an onion
  3. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan (or skillet)
  4. Cook the bacon in the pan until evenly browned
  5. Take the bacon out of the pan and drain on paper towels
  6. Cook the diced onion in the bacon grease, until translucent
  7. Add halfed brussel sprouts and toss to coat in the oil
  8. Cook and stir, add in salt and pepper to taste
  9. After approximately 5 minutes (or when browned), serve.

If you do not eat meat, just skip steps 1 – 5, and cook the onions in an oil of your choosing. Or use a bacon replacement!

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