Soaring food prices and a serious squeeze on family budgets make the Christmas food shop a real object of dread for many.
With a few clever tips however, you won't have to take out a small loan to afford some decent Christmas grub. On day nine of our festive money saving calendar we reveal how you can pay less for the Christmas shop.
1. Be prepared.
It sounds fussy, but check online to see which supermarkets have offers on what, and use Mysupermarket.com to work out which one offers the best value for your shop.
Do you have any loyalty points saved up for a particular store? Check how many you've got and then make sure you make use of them on your shopping trip - they can make a real dent in your overall bill.
And most importantly - make a list. This is imperative to stop you spending too much, so make sure you stick to it!
2. Pick your time to go.
Where possible make sure you go at a time when the supermarket won't be uncomfortably busy - you want to be able to take your time and not get flustered.
Also be sure not to go when you're hungry - a recipe for disaster, and try to leave the kids at home. Not only will they be a distraction, they'll convince you to put extra things in the trolley you wouldn't have bought otherwise.
4. Know where to scrimp and where to splurge. Of course you want a nice turkey, and some lovely cheeses for boxing day perhaps. But you can save on other more standard items - supermarket budget brand fresh fruit and veg will be perfectly good for your roast for instance. And remember things like stuffing, gravy and brandy butter can all be made at home for much less than you'd buy them in the supermarket.
5. Don't overshop. We tend to stick to the more traditional idea that the big Christmas shop has to feed the whole family for several weeks and that all the shops will be closed over Christmas.
Remember that a shocking 1/3 of all food bought in the UK is thrown away, which as well as being terribly bad for the environment, is also a complete waste of money - so be sensible with what you buy. Of course you don't want to find yourself popping out for small things two days after Christmas, but don't buy anything if you're not certain it will get eaten in time.