Saturday, 18 December 2010
Cutting the cost of Christmas food shopping
With the weather being so atrocious at the moment you may be simply grateful to get out and find anything in the shops but I’m going to suggest a strategy for cutting your Christmas food shopping bills. Which is not to shop with a preconceived idea about what you’re going to cook and just see what's on offer.
There is admittedly a danger that you’ll just snap up every bargain you find but if you buy things that will keep or which you can freeze you can pick up some really good deals as I’ve done a couple of times over the past week.
Last weekend I picked up some packs of game casserole in Waitrose, normally £4.69, reduced by 20% to £3.75 then slashed to 99p each to clear. We used them to make a game pie filling which we served with what I call floating pastry lids rather than as a pie, a trick that speeds up the cooking process, ensures your pastry remains crisp and can even leave you a couple of lids for leftovers.
Then this week I hit the jackpot in the Co-op with a leg of lamb for £4.94 which will do for dinner for six sometime over the Christmas period.
I also picked up an 800g pack of mince for a lasagne or a batch of bolognese, a 700g bacon joint for £2.50 which should feed four with lentils or butter beans and a Bury black pudding for 49p which the two of us had for lunch yesterday with a potato, apple and onion fry (all from ingredients already in the cupboard)
Tonight we’re going to have chicken casserole based on a £2.19 pack of Freedom Food chicken thighs with a 73p pack of chestnut mushrooms. OK, it will be zipped up with some leftover wine or cider and a little cream but it’ll still cost us no more than a couple of quid a head.
We’ve also decided as there are probably only going to be three of us on Christmas Day to take it to the wire and leave our shopping until the afternoon of Christmas Eve and simply see what we can pick up. That may result in us having a chicken or a joint of pork rather than a turkey but we can still make a stuffing and all the trimmings that go with the traditional Christmas lunch and I don’t think we’ll enjoy it any the less.
I admit I don’t always shop like this but occasionally it’s good to see how little you can manage to live on especially over Christmas when the pressure to spend far more than you need on food is at its greatest.
It's not as if we're laying in for a 10 day siege. (Well, unless you're unlucky enough to be snowed in). The shops will be back open again on Boxing Day and the chances are you've got enough in store to survive till the New Year even if they weren't. We certainly have.
How do you handle your Christmas food shopping? Do you find you tend to buy more than you need or have you developed strategies for keeping the cost - and waste - down?