Forget about making sure you have all the trimmings, a festive dinner during the holidays doesn’t have to break the bank.
Especially when it comes to preparing a holiday feast for friends before you head home for the break. Follow our top tips for cooking a delicious meal that your friends will be talking about well into the new year.
It’s all about the prep
Obviously, there’s a big element of preparation that goes into cooking a festive dinner (hats off to parents who manage to do it every year!). Before you venture out to your nearest supermarket and get the goods, it would probably be wise to make a list of everything you need.
This means sitting down and planning what you’re going to cook, taking into consideration the cost of ingredients and the number of people you’ll be feeding. Not only will this save you time whilst you’re shopping but it will almost definitely save you money by stopping you from buying too much food. We all can get overexcited in the supermarket!
Next, make sure you know if your friends have any dietary requirements before planning the meal. It’s easy to swap out the turkey and ham for vegetarian or vegan alternatives so make sure to keep an eye out for any pre-made festive nut roasts or pastry dishes in your local supermarket.
Another top tip is to ask your friends if they have any of the ingredients left over in their kitchen cupboards. After all, there is a high possibility that food will end up in the bin or left behind over the christmas period. Another option is to encourage a ‘potluck’. You can provide the main dish, but asking your friends to use up whatever they have lying around the house to be shared out for starters and dessert will save you a load of time and money.
The ultimate tip for cooking a Christmas dinner is to shop smart! Let’s face it, not everyone can afford high-end supermarkets at university and Aldi and Lidl are good alternatives for those on a tighter budget.
If you’re in doubt use a comparison site such as mySupermarket which will tell you the best supermarket to buy your entire grocery list for the cheapest price (or it can tell you where to get the most expensive ingredients at the best price).
It is definitely possible to cook a whole Christmas dinner for £2.50 a head if you get a group together. It would be wise to ask your friends to contribute so you don’t get left with the entire bill and set precedent for years to come!
The ultimate budget friendly menu
The most cost-effective way to cook a Christmas dinner is to search through your kitchen and your friends’ cupboards to work around what you have. To help, we’ve created a generic budget friendly Christmas dinner menu for a delicious, cost-effective meal.
Serves 4 | Costs: £9.91*
- A whole chicken (£2.95) (If you’d prefer different meat then this may be a little more costly)
- 4 carrots (29p)
- 3 onions (75p)
- 4 potatoes (70p)
- 2 parsnips (29p)
- 3 sweet potatoes (£1.10)
- Frozen brussels sprouts (£1.00)
- Frozen peas (62p)
- Frozen Yorkshire puddings (£1.00)
- Pot of gravy granules (75p)
- 1 lemon (30p)
- 3 garlic cloves (16p)
- Salt and pepper
*Average prices as of December 2019
The roast chicken
- Preheat the oven to 200°C fan / 220°C / 428°F
- Place the chicken in an oven proof dish
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Stuff the chicken with the leftover lemon (this will help to bring the lemon taste to the chicken)
- Crush your garlic and spread over the chicken
- Slice one onion up into fours and stuff into the chicken
- Cook in the oven for an hour and 10 minutes
- Oven needs to be headed to 200°C fan / 220°C / 428°F
- Peel your potatoes and cut into chunks
- Place into boiling water and boil for 10 minutes
- Drain your potatoes and add a spoonful of flour over your potatoes if you like them crispy
- Place into an oven proof tray and add a bit of oil, salt and pepper
- Roast for 20 minutes then turn them over and roast for a further 30 minutes
- To test if they are done, poke them with a fork
Tip: Get your potatoes in the oven 20 minutes after your meat to time your meal perfectly.
Carrots, Parsnips and sweet potatoes
- Peel your vegetables and cut them into halves
- Place them in an oven dish and drizzle with oil and sugar
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, checking frequently to ensure you are turning them over
Brussels sprouts and onions
- Slice your onions into small pieces and cut your Brussels in half
- Place in a frying pan with two tablespoons of oil
- Fry them until they turn a golden colour
Peas and Yorkshire pudding
- You should start to cook the peas and Yorkshire pudding 10 minutes before you’re ready to plate up
- Follow the instructions on the back of the pack to cook these
- This is arguably the most important part of the meal! Make sure to boil the kettle if you’re using gravy granules. Pour the water into two heaped tablespoons of granules and stir. Add more granules to thicken if needed
- If you’re going to make your own gravy from scratch, then take the leftover juices from the meat and pour it into a pan. Whisk in a little flour to make it thicker and simmer with the water you cooked the peas in. Add one stock cube to increase the flavour
Create festive vibes
To save you time, you can ask friends to provide decorations and party favours for the table because a festive meal would not be the same without pulling crackers! Other decorations you may already have in your house include fairy lights, badly cut paper snowflakes and tinsel. If stuck, Poundland sell an excellent array of decorations for (you guessed it) a pound!
Other guests can help out by creating a festive playlist to put on while you’re eating your food.
Now you are all set for the ultimate festive dinner that your friends will talk about for years to come… good luck!