Christmas Food - How To Save A Few Quid...
So 2020 has sucked right!? What a whirlwind of a year it's been, and frankly roll on 2021, with all the glimmers of hope for a return to normality, with the likelihood of a vaccine for Covid-19, but before we get to 2021, we still have a Christmas to get through!
So if like me, your finances have taken a beating this year, I suspect you are looking for as frugal a Christmas as possible! We normally go to my parents on Christmas Day, but due to concerns over Covid-19, this year all our family are going to be celebrating Christmas separately, although we are looking to have a Facetime Christmas lunch, so we can all still have lunch together, even though we may be hundreds of miles away from each other!
The financial downside to this, is that we are going to have to buy our own food! Normally the bank of Mum & Dad finances the turkey, with all the trimmings, but this year it's every sibling for themself!
I'm a fresh turkey fan, but these are expensive, as much as £20 per kilo from specialist retailers, and between £4 and £11 per kilo in the supermarkets, depending where you shop, however a frozen turkey is as little as £2.97 per kilo, and so that's a decent potential saving. It's a bit more faff, as you need to make sure that the turkey is fully defrosted before you put it in the oven, so need to take it out of the freezer a good day or so before you cook it, longer if it's a big one! An average sized 4 -5 kilo fresh turkey will cost you around £30, on average, and a frozen version, the same size, can be around £16, possibly cheaper, if you shop around.
Iceland & Asda are normally very often very competitive on turkey pricing and so worth a look. You might decide to choose a turkey crown, which might not be cheaper than a whole bird, but is quicker to cook and you get less waste from a crown as you have less bone, and therefore get more meat for your money. Downside is that as a crown is all white meat, you won't get any brown meat or legs, so if that's something you enjoy, then stick to a normal turkey.
Every year there is a bit of a price war when it comes to supermarket veg. Most of the main supermarkets have a pile it high, keep it cheap marketing plan when it comes to your Christmas veggies. They know that you need it and it's one of the products they are willing to take a hit on margin for, if it means that they have coaxed you into the store for cheap veg, but then you also buy a trolley full of other goodies, which gives them a decent margin!
Most of the supermarkets will be offering reduced cost veggies from the 18th December, so that's the time to look to stock up, the later you leave it, the higher the chance of competitive price reductions, and of course yellow sticker bargains, however many supermarkets are unsure of how this Christmas is going to play out, as it's likely that customer buying patterns and volumes being bought, are likely to be different this year and so leaving it to the last minute may either result in bargain basement veggies, (Last year several supermarkets were giving it away free at the door on Christmas Eve), or no veggies at all, as it's possible the buyers may reduce down the amount being purchased to reduce the chance of excess food being left in stores, so it's a risk!
Veggies can be frozen, and so If you have been able to find some yellow sticker vegetables, (or meat and desserts!), then there is no reason why you can't freeze some now, ready for Christmas. Most veggies can be frozen, and by freezing yellow sticker deals, you could save a fortune on Christmas grub! I have loads of veg in the freezer, as well as some yellow sticker desserts and meat, and with 95% off the normal pricing, we have most of what we need at a massive discount, which is fab!
The method of freezing vegetables differs from product to product. Some items you can just throw into the freezer, and that's it, others may need you to blanch them first, to ensure that the product quality isn't reduced during the freezing process. Some veg can be frozen simply by throwing the pack straight in the freezer, others, such as beans, sprouts and many other green veggies, need to be placed on a tray inside the freezer, separated so they don't stick together, and then once frozen, can be bagged up and stored until you need it.
You can of course also buy frozen veg in the supermarket, own brand frozen vegetables can be very cheap compared to big brand alternatives or buying fresh.
Here's an example, buying frozen sprouts in Morrisons, which works out £5.39 per kilo cheaper, than buying fresh, prepared sprouts! You may argue fresh sprouts are nicer, and I am unlikely to disagree, however if you are working on a tight budget, then that's a massive saving, and more money to put towards other things you need to buy!
The key to buying for Christmas, parties, get togethers etc, is not to buy fresh/chilled food. Fantastic as it looks, it's much more expensive to buy, as the wastage on fresh food is much higher, for the supermarkets, than frozen foods, and so you will be paying a premium for the food, as the retailers will include extra margin to help subsidise the products that they have to either reduce to clear, or throw out.
A quick look on the Iceland website, at frozen party food, shows many items on a 3 for £5 offer, against an average 30% increase in price in buying fresh party food at Tesco, although the closer we get to Christmas, the supermarkets will introduce more and more special deals!
It's also worth having a look some of the food waste prevention apps, as you may be able to grab some cut price food, last minute, to help spread the cost of Christmas. These apps/services offer retailers, and in some case the public, the option to offer excess foods to the users, at either a reduced cost, or even free. Try services such as Too Good To Go & Olio as these are the best ones, in my opinion.
Supermarket discount apps, such as Checkoutsmart, Shopmium, GreenJinn and Clicksnap also offer (Year round) discounted food products and Christmas can result in a lot of seasonal goodies up for grabs..
One final thing to mention is that no matter what you buy for Christmas, be it food or gifts, make sure that if you are buying online, that you use a cash back site, to ensure that you are earning as much cash back, and therefore making savings, as possible. It's something that often gets forgotten, and with the majority of us spending more in November/December, then it's important to make sure every penny you spend, is being spent wisely, and you would be surprised how much cash back you can earn during the period! Also ensure that in the case of supermarkets, you have a loyalty card for each of stores you shop with, and remember to scan it at the check out! Most loyalty schemes have an app, and so download that as then you always have your loyalty card with you so never forget it, plus get the option to very often use the app to see products you may receive bonus points on, giving you the option to switch your purchasing to a product that may offer you a better deal. The points you earn can then be saved for use at a later date, perhaps early 2021, when the bills are coming in from Christmas, and every extra penny counts...