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Families in the UK spend on average £220 extra on food over the festive period – here are my top tips for saving on The Big Christmas Shop
With Christmas Day just two weeks away I know many of you will be contemplating the big Christmas Shop. Christmas is undoubtedly a time of excess and unfortunately a lot of that excess often ends up in the bin – not only as wasted food but as wasted money too.
Hopefully you’ve been a bit a savvy in the run up to Christmas and already managed to bag yourself a few non perishable bargains in the last few months. This piece focuses on some of the fresh last minute ingredients such as fruit and veg and the all important joints of meat.
1.Cashback Apps can save you a Fortune
One of the biggest ways I’m able to save cash in the run up to Christmas is by using shopping apps. You simply buy the items the listed on the app and then upload a copy of of your receipt for a full or part refund. This has really helped me save on things I actually need for Christmas – for example Top Cashback currently have money off offers for stuffing, cranberry sauce, parsnips and turkey gravy – making all of them half price. It also means I save on other more general groceries leaving extra cash to spend on Christmas treats. The shop pictured I did today (7/12/17) and it cost just £2.80 using these apps.
2.Don’t Buy food You don’t like
Sounds obvious right? Why would anyone buy food they don’t actually like? But at Christmas the phrases ‘It’s traditional’ and ‘Just In case someone fancies some!’ seem to get thrown around a lot. I think every household has items they don’t actually eat at Christmas – personally I can’t stand dried fruit, so no Christmas Cake, Mince Pies or Christmas pudding for me. For others it might be nuts in their shells (which no one can be bothered to crack) butter cookies (we love these in our house but I know some people think they are dry and horrible.) Also people tend to be generous around the holiday period and will often bring food with them, especially if there’s something for which they feel it wouldn’t be Christmas without.
I’ve also given up buying some food that we do like – such as big tubs of chocolates – we are always given so much chocolate at Christmas that I just don’t see the point in adding to it!
Also it’s worth thinking about how food is used. Brandy Butter may be traditional but what else will you use it for if there’s loads left over? Whereas both cream and ice cream will go with everything, including Christmas Pudding!
3.Look out for Deals
So another one that may sound obvious – but if you look really hard there are some fantastic deals to be had this Christmas many are short lived though so you need to be quick. Below are two of my favorites for stocking up on Christmas Dinner and Party Food in the next few weeks. Neither of these are sponsored – I just think they’re great deals.
This deal is online only but you get a substantial amount of frozen party food for just £30. You can sort of pick n mix some of the items you get so if there’s anything you really don’t like you don’t have to include it. This also means you can choose more food for your money eg. 540 grams of pizza rather than 160 grams of crab Mac n Cheese. It comes with a ‘free’ bottle of wine which can be exchanged for a 50 piece dessert platter if you’d prefer. On average this deals saves £10 compared to buying everything separately. You will need to spend an additional £5 to qualify for free delivery. You can find the £30 Party food deal here. Approx 220 pieces of party food depending on which products you choose.
Iceland are also offering 10% Emergency Services Discount in the run up to Christmas if you’re shopping in-store – just show your bluelightcard if you have one. If you don’t they are worth signing up for as they provide loads of discounts throughout the year. This offer is available in-store from Monday 27 November until Sunday 17 December 2017.
I’ve written extensively before about how much I love Co-op and they are without a doubt my favorite supermarket. They regularly have a £5 frozen meal deal which is excellent value and perfect for stocking up the freezer – even better when you’re a student and can get an additional 10% off too.
As in previous years, they will soon be lunching a frozen Christmas Dinner deal for just £10. Designed to feed six it includes the following:
- Bacon Wrapped Turkey Joint with Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls
- McCain Roast Potatoes
- Aunt Bessie’s 12 four minute Yorkshire puddings
- Honey glazed roast parsnips
- Co-op button sprouts
- Co-op garden peas
- Mint Vienetta
All items need to be purchased for the deal to work which saves over half on what the items would cost separately. If you have more than 6 mouths to feed you could always double up. And don’t forget with a student discount it comes in at just £9. Bargain! In stores from Dec 13th on-wards. Also I’ve heard tales of people getting this deal for just a fiver from boxing day on-wards – even if you stock up for later in the year all that for £5 (or £4.50) is an absolute bargain!
4.Buy Everything Reduced
Regular readers of my blog will know I am big fan of buying reduced food – it makes up the majority of the fresh produce I buy and helped me spend over a year sticking to a groceries budget of just £50. Last year I wrote about heading out bargain hunting on Christmas Eve and while I visited quite a few supermarkets I didn’t manage to find much. So I wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late for the majority of your Big Christmas shop.
However, it is worth keeping an eye out in the run up to the festive period. Joints of meat can be frozen until needed and veggies can be par-boiled and frozen down too. It’s also worth looking out for any canapes you might fancy – I recently picked up M&S mini lobster Mac n Cheese for more than half price.
While I didn’t have much success on Christmas Eve last year, I did fare better in the week between Christmas and New Years Eve. A late night trip to Asda saw me bag £25 of food for just £7 including everything I needed for my New Years Eve party and cakes for friends birthday. I also picked up bags of Carrots, Parsnips and Sprouts for FREE as they were giving away surplus Christmas stock they had been unable to sell. These were whizzed up into soup for January.
5. Calculate How Much you actually need
Everyone loves leftovers at Christmas. But I think the thought of having plenty of left overs sometimes leads us to massive overbuying – this is something I’m definitely guilty of! – there are currently 6 family sized bags of crisps and two boxes of biscuits in my Christmas food cupboard (in my defence the crisps were half price in Lidl the other week, but still, there’s only two of us!)
If there’s just four of you for dinner you don’t need a turkey that feeds 12! Even with leftovers that’s a lot of meat and chances are you wont even fancy it on boxing day or even the next day, especially with so much other delicious food on offer. Alternatives such as just cooking turkey breasts or even having chicken instead can be great ways to save money if there’s less people to cater for.
6.Leave room for leftovers
Even if you are careful with how much you buy over the festive period you will inevitably end up with some type of left overs. Making sure you have plenty of room in your freezer to store them should really help prevent any food at all going in the bin. Even if you’re not 100% sure what you’ll do with it, getting it bagged up and labelled in the freezer is better than finding it rotting at the back of the fridge come New Years. Frozen leftovers can also be a godsend during those long January weeks waiting for payday to come!
7. Meat Hampers Could save you a fortune
While with normal Hampers it’s generally better value to make your own for the products you actually get (even taking into account the cost of the basket and postage!) buying a meat hamper for somewhere like Muscle Foods could actually save you a fortune and does come in substantially cheaper than buying meats separately from the supermarket. Offers are varied and are sometimes limited so I’ve not linked to anything specific, but the site provides comparative prices with all the supermarkets – it’s worth taking a look at least and seeing if you could save any money.
8. Check weights and measures
You get MORE THAN DOUBLE the amount of cake in the uncut one. So you are essentially paying M&S £1.50 to cut your cake for you. Ouch.
9.Homemade vs. Shop bought – Which is Cheaper?
Figuring out whether it’s cheaper to buy or make stuff at Christmas can be a bit of a minefield. For example the ingredients for a Christmas Pudding are going to cost way more than simply buying one. But people love tradition, stir up Sunday and using Granny’s recipe. Making your own pigs in Blankets is much cheaper. But it is fiddly – so the question here is how much do you value your time?
I think the biggest waste of money though are the pre-made items in the ‘Food to Order’ catalogs. While they all look lovely and perfect in the pictures – most of the items are really simple to make at home and on average could be made for around a third of the price.
Example – I genuinely love the look of this stuffing and sausage wreath from M&S, but there is no way I would pay £12 for it. I’ll definitely be attempting to make my own using reduced sausages and bargain stuffing mix.
I hope this post has really made you think about how much you’ll be spending on your Big Christmas Shop this year and will hopefully save you some money!