Monday 7 December 2015

Planning A Christmas Menu On A Budget

With Christmas just around the corner, I'm sure you have all been very busy decorating your home and Christmas tree with special ornaments. Table runners, candles and Christmas lights can also bring the festive feeling to your home.   A couple of months ago I  started planning my Christmas Day menu too. Although I want this special day to be perfect, it is so easy to go overboard with the food.

Providing two meats, a couple of salads or roast veggies and two or three desserts is all that is needed to satisfy the hungry souls at your table. The more you have to choose from, the harder it is for the eaters to choose. How to fit it all on the plate ? There is only so much you can eat at one meal and many people travel from table to table ( family home to family home ) in one day.

Also, the more you provide, the more likely you are to be left with leftovers for a week. To avoid gastro,  food should be refridgerated between courses and consumed within 2 - 3 days of cooking. You are less likely to forget what is left in the fridge if it is consumed within a small time frame.

I've cooked traditional and casual Christmas lunches in the past. Here's what I've provided for my guests


roast lamb served in gravy
roast chicken
roast potatoes, pumpkin and carrots
cauliflower and broccoli with white sauce and cheese on top
mint sauce
sticky date puddings in muffin size with caramel sauce, cream and icecream


bbq steaks ( cut into smaller pieces )
mushrooms and onions
bread stick
green tossed salad
potato salad
pasta salad
plum pudding ( no name ) with home made custard, cream and icecream
mini pavlovas ( home made ) with cream and berries

Both have been hugely successful and everyone is full and satisfied. The casual meal had a lot more leftovers. We just ate salads and sausages for the next two days. The best thing about these meals is that I have most of the ingredients on hand already so there are no grocery blowouts. The only extra expense is the meat and a few veggies / salad things.

Here are some handy hints for cutting costs

*  Grow your own lettuce and salad things.  Lettuce grows all year round in pots or the ground.

*  Buy your leg of lamb in Spring when it's about $6.99 a kilo.

*  Keep a look out for bbq meats on sale at the butcher.  Freeze ahead of time in smaller portions.  It's so easy to pull out the exact amount of meat needed from the freezer.  Less waste and quite often dinner guest numbers are not known until a couple of days before.

*  Spread the workload around and ask guests to bring a plate / dish.  Most people are happy to help.

*  Not everyone likes plum pudding.  Single serve puddings might be your answer to reducing costs and left overs.  I've found no name/ generic brands to be mild in flavour and well received by guests. Making your own could be another option.

*  Buy your bon bons on  Boxing Day at half price.  I always buy enough for a couple of years.  A cheaper option is to make your own from wrapping paper tubes,  wrapping paper,  ribbon,  your own printed jokes and a trinket / lolly.  Making your own costs next to nothing.

*  Snacks like nuts,  dried fruit,  chocolates,  chips,  soft drinks and lollies should be bought ahead of time.  Most of these items are on sale from week to week.  Just check out my grocery specials post every Wednesday.

With some forward planning you can have a fabulous Christmas Day full of delicious food without blowing your budget.

Have you started planning your Christmas Day menu ?


  1. Wendy,
    You are so right! It is easy to go overboard with the food. I don't mind the ones that freeze well, but honestly it is so busy around the holidays that I would rather not have to deal with a bunch of leftovers. I do like to can any leftover ham to use later though. So this year we are cutting out all of the extras and just keeping the meal simple and not having all of the different desserts too. I have everything I need in the pantry I just have to get a ham and some fresh veggies.

    1. Vicky, there's only a few things I need to buy too.

  2. Hi wendy,
    I have started planning my Christmas well in advanced thanks to your advice. Christmas eve is at my house where we do a big family dinner with one side of the family. I use your guide to plan food, but also do a couple canap├ęs and everyone brings something. My stepmum who works in a deli brings 3 roast chickens and 3 dozen oysters, a cost that I could not afford but am so grateful that she can get this food at a discounted price. With 12 adults and everyone chipping in all I have to do is make roast potatoes, a green bean salad and some Procuitto wrapped melon.
    We also do naughty santa which involves everyone buying a gift with the value of $50. Then everyone draws a number on the night to determine the order. The first person opens any present from the pile, then the second person can either steal the first persons gift or choose a new one, it continues on like this and the first person gets another go at the very end.
    This game creates a lot of laughter and excitement as well as saving everyone from having to buy numerous presents. We chose $50 but most people make it $20-$30. We used to do standard Kris kringle but found $100 each was too much, plus it was boring as everyone just got what they had requested with no surprises or excitement.
    This new way brings back more of that joy and excitement, and make it less about just spending money, you have to think hard about the gift.
    I also make my own gift tags from last year's Christmas cards and buy wrapping paper and other essentials after Christmas day.
    thanks for all your blogs and advice this past year.
    wishing you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
    lauren :-)

    1. Wow, your stepmum is generous. It certainly helps your budget. It looks like you have a wonderful Christmas plan

  3. This advice is spot on Wendy. When we were kids, we used to have ham steaks with a pineapple ring and a cherry on top, mashed potato and gravy and salad for Christmas Lunch. It was followed by glasses of alternating red and green jelly in little glasses, with a Freddo Frog chocolate on top and we thought it was heaven! Of course, the table was set with festive things and the Carols were on the record player too, so it's all about atmosphere. A very sensible and practical post. Love it. Mimi xxx

  4. Hi Wendy,

    Yes, mine's all planned and bought, except for fresh vegies etc...
    We have my Mum and DH's parents for lunch so 8 this year. We have 2 roast meats , I buy a ham or Lamb and MIL maybe chicken, turkey or Pork. We share making the vegies and each provide a dessert.

    My Inlaws never want the leftovers as they don't eat them,(strange I know), so we get to eat them over the next few days or freeze for later.

    I have bought things over the year so the expenses are next to nothing this year thanks to your help Wendy.

    Blessings, xxx

    1. Maureen, I know people who won't touch leftovers. Providing it's been refrigerated correctly, I'll take leftovers if they are offered.


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