/ Food & Drink

Where do you shop for your festive food?

Christmas dinner

Some of you may loathe the thought of Christmas prep in November, but the big day does require some organising. So have you thought about what you’ll be eating and drinking yet, and, more importantly, where you’ll be getting it from?

For me, Christmas food seems to require a fair amount of planning. Growing up, there used to be a barn in my grandparents’ village that was full of turkeys. It required some early preparation – you’d go along there in late summer, pick a turkey out, watch it grow and fatten up over the autumn months, and then it would arrive all ready for you a couple of days before Christmas.

These days, getting everything in for Christmas in my family’s household is a lot less rustic.

Gathering festive food

Admittedly, my mum does the lion’s share of the grocery shopping, as we’ll invariably be spending the big day in the family home. And she’s something of a Lidl fan. ‘It’s German and they know how to do Christmas. Their stollen is second to none,’ she reasons.

She’ll be pleased to know that judging by the results of this year’s annual Which? festive taste tests, it seems she’s on to something there. In a survey of 1,393 Which? members, Aldi was voted the top supermarket for buying your turkey for the festive season, followed closely by Lidl.

However, independent shops and butchers came out top overall, beating all the supermarkets. They also came first for taste.

These days, my mum will swerve the long queues at the butcher’s in town in Christmas week, as she’ll have already bagged a frozen turkey from Lidl in late November, ‘just in case they sell out’.

And what veg isn’t grown in the patch at the bottom of the garden will likely come from the weekly market (except the potatoes – she’ll go to Sainsbury’s for those, as she believes they’re better). Indeed, independent shops were voted the best place to buy your Christmas vegetables.

The pigs in blankets and chestnut stuffing will probably come courtesy of M&S or Waitrose, and she’ll pop into Lidl once again a couple of days after Christmas to get in next year’s Christmas pudding, ‘so it can mature’ in the larder.

To lessen the burden, I’ll then get in all the odds and ends – the cold meats, the cheeses, the duck liver pate, the snacks, the prawn ring starter, the brandy butter… and the booze.

Festive taste test

So where will you be gathering your Christmas lunch and treats from this year? Do you buy everything in one place or do you shop around? And are there some shops that are part of your Christmas tradition?


We usually end up eating too much of the wrong things at Christmas and also having lots left over so we are going to try to do things differently this time. There’ll be just the two of us; we won’t have a turkey put to death just for us and we are going to try to buy only what we will need for a decent dinner and stop the gorging. Fillet steak and fresh vegetables is likely to be our choice for dinner, possibly a small cake for teatime. No Christmas pudding but perhaps a mince pie with luxury ice cream. Plenty of fruit will be available as normal. For Boxing Day it will probably be a bit of a treat like a full English breakfast at around three o’clock! The day after that we shall probably go to a pub and have some fish and chips for a change.

I expect we’ll get the food from Waitrose and M&S as the other supermarkets seem to be reducing their ranges of quality foodstuffs, especially fruits and cheeses. We are already overstocked with liquor in various forms so we don’t have to worry about that.


I must say, fillet steak for Christmas dinner sounds preferable to turkey, John. Perhaps I can persuade my family to swap this year…


The only reason we have turkey on Christmas Day is for the children – it is the ritual. However it is an excuse to eat home made bread sauce. I would choose a decent joint of beef cooked fairly rare otherwise, or rack of lamb, or a sirloin steak – more flavour I think, and cheaper, than fillet. I’d start with scallops in a bisque, and finish with either preserved chestnuts in syrup with creme fraiche, or an apple tart made with Cox’s cooked in butter (see Elizabeth David). Cheese with fresh figs and grapes if there is any room – keep all preceding portions small to help.

However it is not to be. Some of that will appear on Boxing Day with a home cooked gammon, gravadlax and other nice buffet food when all the family visit. It is a treat once a year. And some of the food will reappear in the following day or two.

The worst part about Christmas food is buying far too much just in case. We forget we can pop out to the shops after the big day.


I have just noticed that last year’s Christmas table napkins have come out again and it looks as though there are still enough left to see us well into the New Year. We don’t have enough family left in any generation to have a house full again so why do we get so much stuff in?


Funny you say that John, I pointed out to my mother that she has a cupboard full of mismatched Christmas crackers, I insisted on placing the crackers on the table at the last family gathering as I know the inventory of crackers will only continue to grow…


We never have Turkey. Horrible, dried, mostly dead and goes on for ever. Reminds me too much of a distant relative…

Our descendent family is growing (I blame double beds, myself) and whereas we can comfortably get ten around our dining room table the addition of more baby chairs might mean having to consider a dining annex – possibly in the garage 🙂

Crackers are fascinating things. Terrible jokes, repetitive and utterly useless ‘gifts’, exorbitant prices and yet for some unfathomable reason we all enjoy pulling them. Are we all mad? No – don’t answer that…


Christmas is the only time I eat turkey but I will have to wait and see which member of the family invites me to Christmas lunch and be thankful that I no longer have to cook it, and very grateful for whatever is served on the day, as long as roast parsnips accompany it!

The Christmas after losing my eldest son (2004), I chose to spend it on my own with my thoughts and a Waitrose pre prepared roast chicken meal, followed by a mini Christmas pudding with fresh cream. Each Cbrismas since then I have tried to spare a thought for all the people who have lost loved ones during the previous year. I rarely touch alcoholic drinks so a single glass of a nice Italian red will be sufficient to compliment the meal. I used to take one of my speciality sherry trifles along with me which always proved very popular with everyone but these days a cheese board with a selection of different cheeses and maybe the odd pickled walnut, is the preferred choice.

I almost forgot, smoked salmon for breakfast is a must on Christmas Day.


Smoked salmon with some sort of mangled egg accompaniment is our preference, too. Genuinely sorry about your loss, Beryl. Losing a child must rank as one of the most traumatic events in life. Here’s wishing you a bright and salmony Christmas this year.