12 ways to save money on your Christmas groceries
Christmas comes with certain expectations. These may be different for everyone, but there's no doubt there's often plenty of pressure to spend.
The cost of festive feasts can really add up, especially with the current squeeze on living costs, but there are ways to cut the cost of your Christmas dinner - and avoid getting stuck with excess food waste. These are a few expert advices from Jade Harding.
We've rounded up tips and tricks to help save money on your food shop this Christmas, including being clued up about which supermarket is cheapest (and has the tastiest food) and knowing how much turkey you really need to feed all your guests.
1.Plan your meals and write a list
It sounds obvious, but pre-planning meals and writing a list of exactly what you need is one of the best ways to save money. It should help you stick to buying the essentials where possible, and reduce waste too.
The earlier you plan, the more you can factor in shopping around, or buying in stages to spread the cost, if you'll have the time.
For example, festive spices such as cinnamon sticks and star anise are normally better value in health food stores than in large supermarkets (where you'll get a small handful in a tiny jar).
Planning ahead should also mean you don't have to head at the last minute to a smaller convenience store , which can often be pricier.
2. Prep at home where you can
If you've got the time, it can help to make some dishes at home, as buying premade convenience food is often more expensive.
Gravy, for example, can be made using roasting juices from your meat (and giblets if you have them), a spoonful of flour - and a splash of wine if you've already got a bottle open. You can add a stock cube if juices are thin on the ground.
Buying individual cheeses rather than a ready-made cheese board can sometimes be cheaper, too, and avoid you getting stuck with a solitary cheese that nobody really likes.
Mince pies, pigs in blankets and mulled wine are just a few of the other popular festive treats that you can make at home, some of which you can make in advance to minimise effort on the day, including making your own Christmas pudding.
3. Choose a cheaper supermarket
Depending on where you shop, switching supermarket could shave money off your shopping bill, according to our monthly price analysis.
Each month we compare prices for a trolley of groceries at eight of the big supermarkets to reveal the cheapest place to shop.
This month, we also compared supermarket prices for typical Christmas dinner ingredients, and Aldi came out cheapest, closely followed by Asda.
See the full breakdown in our story on the cheapest supermarket for Christmas dinner, and keep an eye on our regularly updated supermarket price comparison guide.
4. Know when to buy own-label over branded
Don't be fooled into thinking paying more for big brands will guarantee great-tasting food and drink.
Own-brand foods are usually much cheaper, and our taste tests have found plenty that are actually rated better in blind taste tests than their premium alternatives.
Find out which own-label products topped our tests, and the big brands our tasters do think are worth forking out for in our round-up of the best food and drink.
5. Sign up to food waste apps
Cut costs and help to prevent perfectly edible food products from being thrown away by signing up to a food waste app.
The Too Good To Go app allows you to buy and collect 'magic bags' from different supermarkets, cafes, health stores, butchers and fishmongers near you. Each bag normally costs around £3-£5 and includes a selection of food and drink depending on the retailer.
You can't pick what goes in the bag, and the best-before dates will usually be quite short, but you can always freeze items.
You could also link up with your neighbours using the Olio app, which allows you to connect with people nearby to help share out surplus goods.
6. Get the right-sized turkey
It's worth working out how much food you'll need per person as part of your planning, to minimise over-buying.
For joints of meat, you can normally work this out by weight. For example, you will need 300g to 400g of turkey per person, so for four people you'll only need to buy a 1kg turkey crown.
Supermarket offers are terrible for temptation, too. 'Half price' and 'Buy one, get one free' stickers will be everywhere in the lead up to Christmas, but remember it's not a good deal if you don't really need the extra items, particularly if they have a short shelf life.
Hosting more than four guests? Find out what size turkey you'll need in our guide on how to cook a turkey crown. Or, head to our list of the best luxury salted crisps for some top-quality nibbles.
7. Freeze what you can
From freezing leftovers to stocking up on reduced-price freezable fresh items, your freezer can make staying frugal much easier.
It's also worth looking at what you can buy frozen instead of fresh - the food will keep for ages, it's less likely to be wasted and you can use only what you need.
Fruit and veg is a particularly good place to start. You'll quickly notice the cost savings, too. Per kilo, you can expect to spend around £1.57 for fresh broccoli and only 86p for frozen.
It can be healthier too - frozen veg are steam-blanched immediately after harvesting, and flash-frozen, to ensure they're preserved at their peak taste and nutritional value.
Frozen turkeys are typically cheaper, although you'll need plenty of space in the freezer. You can see which frozen supermarket turkeys are best in our guide to the best places to buy your Christmas food.
We've also got results for the best frozen roast potatoes if you're looking to save time prepping food on Christmas Day.
8. Check the reduced items
While it's best to avoid offers you don't need, keeping an eye on the reduced aisle can be handy.
As we get closer to the big day, supermarkets might start to drop the prices of some surplus Christmas-themed food and drink, so you may be able to bag some bargains.
Just double-check the use-by date and be sure it's something you'll use.
9. Consider alternatives to turkey
Turkey might be the traditional Christmas meat in the UK, but if you're looking to cut costs it could be worth considering a swap.
Chicken is much cheaper (and some might argue tastier) and will go perfectly with your roast potatoes and stuffing. A shoulder of pork is also a more affordable option for meat eaters.
Or if you're looking to cut back on meat - why not try a veggie centrepiece instead?
10. Make the most of money-off schemes, loyalty points and coupons
If you aren't a regular online grocery shopper, most supermarkets have introductory offers. These can have quite a high minimum spend, but this could work out well if you're planning a big festive shop.
Simply search your local supermarket and 'discount vouchers' to find out what's on offer or head straight to the retailer's website.
11. Plan for leftovers
Leftovers aren't necessarily a bad thing - one of the joys of a big roast can be not having to cook for several days afterwards.
But to avoid waste (and mountains of leftover turkey) think about what you will use them for in advance. This could save you from buying another day's worth of food.
A traditional turkey sandwich is a good way to pack in leftover condiments, cheese and even stuffing, but there are plenty of alternative options.
Veg can bulk out a soup (and you can make stock from the leftover carcass of your bird) or be used in a terrine.
12. Ask everyone to bring a dish
If you're having lots of people over this Christmas, don't be afraid to ask them to bring a dish. This means that the burden of cooking - and the associated costs - doesn't fall on just one person.
If you're the host, try making a list of all the dishes that need cooking and use it to make suggestions, or let people pick what they'd like to bring.
Breaking from the traditional roast and having a variety of dishes can make it easier to manage, and make for a fun and inclusive gathering.