You don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy a festive feast. Those willing to shop around can buy Christmas dinner for eight for just £20 according to a new survey. Good Housekeeping tracked the cost of 11 festive ingredients and found that it came to £19.82 - if you're willing to pick up the best deals across Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons and Iceland. In addition to shopping around, here are seven ways to save money on your food shopping bill.
See also: Seven Christmas superfoods to enjoy - without the guilt!
See also: 10 festive snack ideas to cater for unexpected guests
1. Buy veggies from the market
The supermarkets might be offering some great deals, but when it comes to buying fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts, your local greengrocers or market is likely to be the best place for a bargain. For the best prices, head there late in the day when they're selling off goods. Smile and ask the stall holder to throw in a few extras - you never know your luck!
2. Choose the right size turkey
If you're cooking for a big group, the turkey is likely to be one of your main expenses. As a rough guide, a 2kg bird will feed 4-5 people. You'll need 4kg for 8-9 people and 6kg for 12-13. Although this will depend on how big an appetite your guests have, of course.
Frozen turkeys tend to be cheaper than fresh - just make sure that whatever bird you buy can fit in your oven! Get creative with leftovers (Boxing Day curry, anyone?) and the turkey can feed the family for another day. If you're only catering for two, consider getting turkey thighs, which cost less than buying breast or a whole bird.
3. Make your own cheese board
If Christmas wouldn't be Christmas until you bring out the cheese board, keep a close eye on prices. Pre-wrapped cheese can often be far more expensive than buying it from the deli counter. Always check the price per kilo before you buy. Fancy ready-made cheese boards look good but why pay out when you can make your own? Display cheese on a washed wooden chopping board with a bunch of grapes.
4. Opt for homemade canapés
Pre-packed party food can be pricey. Making your own can be cost effective and will impress your guests. If you're not confident in the kitchen, buy ready-rolled puffy pastry cases and fill with what you have in the fridge, such as cheese with baked red onion or cheese topped with a baked cherry tomato.
5. Make your own breadcrumbs
Likewise, it's cheaper to make your own breadcrumbs than buy ready-made. Whizz up a cheap white loaf - crusts and all - to use in starters, stuffing and bread sauce. If you have any left over, freeze it so there's no waste.
6. Save on smoked salmon
Smoked salmon is a favourite at Christmas but it can be expensive. Smoked salmon pâté is surprisingly easy to make, and you can use smoked salmon trimmings, which cost less than half the price of smoked salmon. Alternatively, save even more by making pâté with smoked mackerel.
7. Serve them mulled wine
Stocking up the drinks cupboard can cost a fortune. Instead, serve your guests warmed mulled wine. You can make your own using cheap vino and ready-made sachets of spices (cheaper than buying invidual pots of spices if you don't already have these in your cupboard). Make it go further by adding some orange juice, or if you like it stronger, add some brandy once it's warm.