Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bought-in can be more frugal than home-made

With the family arriving at the weekend I’ve been starting to plan what we’re going to eat on and around Christmas Day. And the sad fact is that I could save myself money if I just descended on Aldi or ASDA and bought what we need. Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and mince pies are all cheaper to buy than to make from scratch. Aldi’s Christmas pudding costs just £2.99, their mince pies 89p. It costs less to buy their roast potatoes with goose fat at £1.29 than to buy a pot of goose fat to cook your potatoes in (let alone a goose . . )

Of course that’s not the whole story. There’s a pleasure in making and eating home-cooked food that ready-bought products simply can’t provide. My kids would all be outraged if I served up a packet sage and onion stuffing instead of our traditional chestnut one or deprived them of the pleasure of making mince pies together in the kitchen. I also want to support my local shops over the Christmas period to help them stay in business at a difficult time.

You're also more likely to overspend if you go somewhere where there's a load of cut price offers. Look at the people who've been thronging round Woolies. It's easy to buy far more than you need - and also a lot of pretty unhealthy food. But it is, I admit, a temptation and one to which I would probably succumb if I had to go in to work over the holiday period

So what are you doing - have you bought in your Christmas staples or are you making your own?


Unknown said...

I have bought my Christmas provisions. Simply for the reason that mince pies/pudding all use ingredients that I rarely use or buy otherwise. But I agree that when it's suits home made is far better as I use more premium ingredients and add extra so I get a better and cheaper dish.

I have just got your Frugal book and I cannot wait to cook belly of pork with black pudding and heaven and earth mash!

verity said...

I do a mix of things, sometimes it's nice to make things even if it's not especially frugal - I'll be making mincemeat tart and shortbread and have made a fantastic cranberry and dried fruit cake from the Good Food mag. We're actually going away for Christmas on Friday for a week, so the cake is for beforehand and the tart is after, and we're avoiding having to buy a big Christmas dinner. I did buy mincepies though as I don't have time to faff around with pastry. We also tend to buy lots of Christmas puddings when they're reduced after Christmas - my boyfriend loves them but will happily wait til they're half price, and they keep really well (last year I bought and saved him one til his birthday in Sept!)

I was very frugal and got your new book from the library; it's a really good read (and I think you still get royalties through the public lending right (I'm a librarian...)

Fiona Beckett said...

That's one of my favourites, Robert!

And good point about buying Christmas things after Christmas, Verity. My son is mad about Christmas pudding mad so it's a good idea stashing some away.

Thanks for the reminder about the PLR too. I'm registered but had forgotten to add The Frugal Cook!

Jean said...

I buy mince pies and a few goodies like that, but I don't buy prepared veg or roasties already peeled, etc.

I still buy frugally though, checking the prices of different items and I will go to different shops for special offers.

I try not to overbuy on anything, as the shops are only closed for a day or so anyway - I can always go and stock up again when necessary.

Fiona Beckett said...

I think the old advice to 'shop around' is more relevant than ever now that supermarkets are all competing to see who can come up with the lowest cutprice offers, notSupermum. The problem is that the price of the items they're not promoting is creeping steadily up.

Career Misfit said...

It's definitely a tricky balance to get right - we'll be getting in a stack of lovely mince pies prepared at a slight premium by our local baker, but making some of our own desserts over Christmas, too. Well, I myself won't be getting involved directly with that part: for some reason I tend to do the roast & veg while she's the sweet foodstuffs expert. Maybe it's a man/woman thing - I'm sure Gordon Ramsay would have something suitably colourful to say about it.

Splendid Communications said...

Hi Fiona!

I’m a big fan of roasties!

One thought though – have you considered replacing the goose fat with hemp seed oil, such as Good Oil: http://www.goodwebsite.co.uk

Not only does it have a slightly fresher taste (in my opinion), but it’s also a good healthy alternative to goose fat, dramatically reducing the calorie count in the dish, while not compromising on taste.

I should disclose that GOOD OIL is a client of mine, so feel free to get in touch for more information, I can also send out a sample for you to try if you like.
All the best

Warmest Regards & Seasons Greetings


Boak said...

yes, it is scary how much cheaper it is to buy things like puddings, cakes etc...

My folks have always made their own puddings, mincemeat and cake and they do just taste so much better -- less sugar, more fruit and booze!

Fiona Beckett said...

Ah yes, the booze, Boak. Not to be underestimated! I haven't made a Christmas cake or pudding this year simply because none of the family (except me and my eldest son) really like it and I always get left with loads left over (unacceptable in the new frugality ;-) But I will add a dash of brandy to the mincemeat.

Interesting point about hemp seed oil, Chris. Have never tried it so feel free to send me a bottle. My daughter, who's verging on vegan, will probably like it.

And career misfit - it's like that in our household too. My husband does the roasts and grills, when he cooks. I do the puds - when we have them (which we try not to in the interests of not being twice the size I already am. Bread, cheese and wine are enough vices ;-)