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10 ideas for Christmas meals on a budget

The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many people, that means hosting holiday gatherings and preparing delicious traditional holiday meals. But what if you’re on a tight budget and worried about the cost of feeding your loved ones? We have 10 creative ideas for keeping the costs of your Christmas meals to a minimum.

Whether you’re hosting a small family gathering or a larger holiday party, there are plenty of ways to create a memorable Christmas meal without spending a fortune. From utilising a Christmas budget to limiting portion sizes, these ideas will help you serve up a festive feast that won’t leave your wallet empty. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can enjoy a delicious Christmas meal while still staying within your budget.

How to keep your Christmas food shopping costs down

Christmas can be an expensive time of year, especially when it comes to food shopping. However, with a little planning and creativity, it is possible to keep your Christmas food shopping costs down. Here are some tips for 10 budget-minded holiday menus to help you save money while still enjoying delicious meals during the festive season:

Make a budget

When it comes to Christmas meals, it’s important to consider your budget. Planning ahead and determining how much you can afford to spend can help you make the most out of the holiday season without breaking the bank. Instead of choosing your menu first and then worrying about the cost, start by setting an affordable budget.

Once you have your budget in mind, you can then look for delicious and affordable dishes that fit within your spending limit. Dinner recipe websites like Taste provide helpful resources with rave reviews such as shopping lists and cost-per-serve information to make it easier for you to find cheap Christmas meal ideas that are both easy to prepare and tasty. So, this Christmas, make sure to prioritise your budget and find ways to enjoy a delicious meal without overspending.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Decorate with food

When it comes to decorating for Christmas on a budget, you can save money by incorporating food into your decorations. Instead of spending a fortune on expensive floral arrangements, consider making your own decorations using basic ingredients. For example, you can create a stunning and delicious lamington Christmas wreath dessert or a pizza bread pull-apart Christmas tree starter. These edible decorations will not only look great on your holiday table, but they can also be enjoyed by your guests.

More fun and cheap ideas is to make a DIY gingerbread house. Instead of buying a pre-made kit, you can create your own gingerbread house from scratch. This can serve as a festive centerpiece for your dinner table and also double as a delicious Christmas dessert when served with ice cream, cream, and a chocolate or caramel sauce. Plus, getting the kids involved in the creation of the gingerbread house can make fun additions to holiday recipes for the whole family. So why not decorate your table with food this Christmas and enjoy the dual benefits of beautiful decorations and tasty treats?

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Throw a snag on the barbie

When it comes to a budget-friendly Christmas meal, nothing beats throwing a snag on the barbie with some bread and sauce. It’s a classic Aussie tradition that’s easy, casual, and won’t break the bank. To make it more festive, why not try these Christmas kebabs? They’re a great way to make a nice cut of steak stretch further into budget-friendly portions.

You can find public barbecues near you by checking your local council website or using the Meat In A Park website. The best part? There’s no washing up involved, and it’s a fun way to let the kids go berserk while enjoying an entire meal.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Share the load

If you’re looking to save money and reduce stress this Christmas, why not consider sharing the load when it comes to preparing meals? Instead of shouldering the entire burden yourself, ask your guests to contribute a dish to the gathering. This not only spreads out the workload, but also divides the costs among everyone.

By adopting this approach, you can enjoy a delicious Christmas meal without the financial burden. From starters and garden salads to sides and desserts, when everyone pitches in, the overall food expenses become more affordable for all. 

Invite your family members coming for lunch or dinner to bring a plate with them. You can assign specific courses to different groups or simply ask guests to bring a savory or sweet dish. This way, your guests will feel involved in the meal and you won’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen preparing all the meals on Christmas Day.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Get thrifty with drinks

When it comes to celebrating Christmas on a budget, one area where you can save money is on drinks. Alcohol can be quite expensive, but there are ways to be thrifty and still enjoy a festive drink.

One tip is to keep an eye out for specials at the bottle shop. Look for discounts on 12 bottle purchases, as this can help you save some money. Another idea is to consider making your own mixed drinks instead of buying pre-mixed ones. By purchasing a bottle of your favorite alcohol and mixer separately, you can save money and have more control over the flavors.

For a budget-friendly option, you can also serve a festive punch. With a berry Christmas punch, you can use a smaller amount of alcohol but still create a flavorful and festive drink. Additionally, if you have any half bottles of alcohol in your cupboard, you can potentially use them up by finding a flexible punch recipe. Remember to always drink responsibly.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Shop your pantry for cheap Christmas meal ideas

When planning your Christmas meals, don’t forget to take a look at what you already have in your pantry. Before heading out to the grocery store, it’s a good idea to do an inventory check of the ingredients you already have. By doing so, you can find creative ways to use those ingredients and search for Christmas recipes that incorporate them.

This can be a great way to save money and discover delicious sides that complement your budget-friendly Christmas meal. So, shop your pantry first and let the magic of creativity unfold in your kitchen this holiday season before heading to the grocery store!

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Splurge to save

It can sometimes be beneficial to splurge on one standout dish. This may seem counterintuitive, but by focusing your spending on a show-stopping centerpiece, you can bring that wow factor to your Christmas table without breaking the bank.

For instance, you might decide to invest in a delicious leg of ham, which will impress your guests and serve as the highlight of your meal. By doing so, you can save on other accompaniments and opt for budget-friendly Christmas food ideas like simple salads and roast veggies easily put together with backup ingredients. Additionally, keeping your starter and dessert courses simple can help you maintain your budget while still enjoying a satisfying and festive meal.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Crafty cuts

If you’re looking to save money while still impressing your guests with delicious Christmas meals, then consider getting crafty with your choice of cuts. Instead of splurging on expensive cuts of meat, opt for more budget-friendly options. For example, you can swap out a plate of smoked salmon for a flavorful smoked salmon dip, or substitute a whole roast dinner turkey with turkey breast. While the high-end cuts may be tempting, smaller cuts can be just as delicious and easier on your wallet.

Remember, the meat doesn’t have to be the star of the show. Instead of expensive cuts, you can explore other options like roast chicken, slow-cooked lamb or pork shoulder that will still melt in your mouth. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try some affordable vegetable Christmas meals on a budget? There are plenty of creative and affordable options to explore. With a little creativity and by throwing extra vegetable to the mix, you can enjoy a memorable Christmas meal knowing that your budget is still in the green.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Limit portion sizes

Considering portion sizes can help you to keep Christmas costs down. By being mindful of how much food you actually need and not going overboard, you can stick to your budget and feed your family without breaking the bank. Instead of serving large portions, think about serving smaller portions for each course if you’re planning a multi-course meal.

This way, you can still enjoy a variety of dishes without spending too much. Avoid the temptation to serve a buffet-style meal or pot roast of pork by sticking to an air fryer recipe, as it can be costly and lead to overeating. By limiting portion sizes and controlling the amount of food you serve, you’ll not only keep prep time and cook times to a minimum, but you can make the most of your budget and keep your Christmas meal affordable.

Can’t beat a pav

“I don’t like pavlova,” said NOBODY EVER. Beloved by everyone from grandma to the littlest of kids, pavlova is an Aussie favourite and a perfect baking recipe for Australia’s summertime climate. It’s also visually spectacular, and is ideal if you’re dreaming of a beautiful Christmas table on a budget.

If you’re willing to have a go, try this simple recipe from Best Recipes. But if you’re not a confident baker and struggle to tell the difference between baking paper and baked bread, ready-made pavlovas are easy to find these days and are super cheap too! All you need to do is decorate. Why not put a festive spin on your pav with some kiwi fruit and strawberries.

10 ideas for christmas meals on a budget

Need help making a delicious Christmas meal on a budget?

We hope you now feel more confident making a Christmas meal on a budget with an amazing alternative holiday dinner. However, if you still need help balancing your budget this Christmas – or planning for the year ahead – call MyBudget on 1300 300 922 or enquire online for a quick chat. It’s free and could be the best Christmas present you ever give yourself! We’re here to help.

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This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.