/ Food & Drink, Money

Is it worth forking out on festive food?

Christmas pudding

Can you really get a decent Christmas lunch for under three quid? Can own labels beat the luxury brands on taste? If you’re willing to give them a try, you could make your Christmas go ‘pop’ for a whole lot less this year.

As this is the first year I’ve ever cooked and hosted Christmas dinner, I have to admit that I’m not holding back. I’ve got an order with the butcher, the fishmonger and I’ll be going to the supermarket and specialist off license too.

But is this all a bit over-the-top? Undoubtedly, I could cook Christmas lunch for less, but would it taste as good?

I’m sceptical, but the results from our recent Christmas pud taste tests show that the proof is in the pudding. Lidl’s Deluxe Matured Christmas Pud scored 82% in our taste tests, narrowly beating its pricier rival Waitrose to the top spot. Other more expensive contestants (like Sainsburys, which was £6 more) trailed way behind with just 49%.

Festive fizz for less

There are savings to be had on top tipples too, with our champagne taste tests showing that there’s no point being a snob. Top of the pops for festive fizz wasn’t the expensive champagne, such as Moet or Veuve – it was the humble Morrisons own.

At a mere £19.99, Morrisons ‘The Best’ champagne is at least £10 cheaper a bottle than luxury brand names – so can it really be better? According to our taste panel, yes. And, with wine critics, writers and consultants among them, they seem pretty trustworthy. That’s the trip to the specialist offie off my list, then.

Are you economising?

It seems that we’re not the only ones to cotton on to the idea of a cheaper Christmas lunch. Good Housekeeping magazine’s been running a ‘Christmas dinner for under £3‘ campaign, featuring the likes of Lidl turkey, Sainsbury’s basics stuffing and Asda Smart Price Christmas cake bars in place of Christmas cake.

While I’m sure the chefs over at GH could make anything taste good, I don’t hold my own culinary skills in quite such high esteem, so I’m sticking to meat from my local butchers – but I may well economise when it comes to the supermarket shop. Are you planning to use any budget buys in this year’s festive feast?

Pickle says:
24 December 2010

I’m not a killjoy, but all this advice, advertising and hoo-ha about Christmas food leaves me cold. For a start local shops and producers offer much better quality that messed-up products from supermarkets. Simple local fare is much better – and why make yourself sick with far too much rich food?
The real meaning of Christmas has been submerged by commercial interests.
Lets get back to basics…..

Yes, we went to our local butcher too – collected the turkey, pigs in blankets etc. on Christmas Eve and it came with a little recipe card to help with cooking times…

All the veg came from the farm shop and the Christmas Pudding was home made (given by a friend). Twas very tasty – but not everyone lives in such a great area. If I was having Christmas back in London (and not at home down South) I’m sure I may have popped to the supermarket…

Pauline Hopkins says:
24 December 2010

I really enjoy christmas, but the cost of food in the butchers is astronomical.
Why pay £35 for top rump/ topside in the butchers, when the same thing is
half price in the supermarket.
This year we are having a 3 bird roast from Aldi. It was great last year, and
good value for money. The crown roasts in Aldi are a third of the price of
the butchers.
I have been shopping in our local Aldi more this year, the quality of their
food is very good.

Err….. £19.00 is far more than I can afford to pay for the entire Christmas and Boxing Day entertainment including, meals let alone one bottle of plonk.

This is my opinion – I have no statistics or other proof – but isn’t the reason food costs so much down to the likes of Tesco et al forcing the local shops out of business, coupled with the abysmal cooking skills of such a large part of the population meaning that if food doesn’t come pre cleaned, pre chopped, pre basted and pre packed (and maybe pre eaten!!!) with explicit cooking instructions (in pictures!) on the carton then half the population can’t actually cook it?

If we all bought (or grew) things fresh (or even frozen but NOT processed) and then did all the prep and cooking ourselves the cost would be a fraction of what they are and the market would also be there for proper local shops again, leaving TesAsBurySons out in the cold.

We’d also be healthier.

I love cooking and I taught myself how to do it so I am undoubtedly biased, but I wonder what other readers think?

I also adore cooking (though not particularly good at it) & believe that if we as a nation just learned to cook from scratch & develop a real understanding of food & sustainable sourcing, we’d all be healthier, wealthier & so much happier! Perhaps even learn to be creative/adventurous with Xmas dishes – it doesn’t have to be roast turkey every year…how about a lovely roast beef? Or sumptuous lamb tagine? The world’s cuisines are at our fingertips…we just have to be brave & experiment more!