Its hard to believe that in a little over a week, we will be sitting down for our Christmas Day lunch and then spending the next couple of days eating too much and then moaning about how much weight we have put on by New Year, which then prompts us to resolve to go on a diet for the January resolution.
Why do we do it? Every year we spend vast sums in the shops and buy mountains of food that we don't need, serve up dozens of dishes no one really wants, and then wonder why we have no money left to start the new year with.
So... let me share with you some of my favourite Christmas period money saving tips....see if some of them can help you stretch your money a little further this year.
- if you are having a small family 'do', don't buy a whole turkey, go for a Turkey crown - or even smaller with a Turkey Breast joint. Not only will it cost you less, there's less hassle in the cooking, less time in the oven (to save you £'s in fuel), and less left overs to worry about into the new year.
- if you have bought a large joint of beef consider cutting it in half and putting half in the freezer for Easter.
- don't cook your stuffing within the bird, it increases the cooking time and costs you more in fuel.
- if you buy packet stuffing mix - think about forming it in to large balls and wrapping in streaky bacon before cooking, to make it a bit more special.
- don't spend a fortune in fancy gravy, you can jazz up your chicken gravy granules with a twist or two of black pepper, and a large pinch of mixed dried herbs....it makes all the difference, and makes it taste extra special.
- if Brussels are not a favorite, just buy a handful loose at the shops and concentrate on peas but mix in with some lightly fried bacon pieces. http://www.frugalfoods.co.uk/index.php/fayes-frugal-food-blog/item/peas-with-spring-onions-and-pancetta?category_id=1
- if Brussels are a favorite try serving them with some toasted hazelnuts (do this in a frying pan) and then tip in a food bag and bash up with a rolling pin
- for fancy orange glazed carrots - cut your carrots in to batons and boil for five minutes. Toss in 50g of melted butter combined with the zest and juice of a small orange.
- 'Pigs in Blankets' are a festive necessity, however you can make your own, rather than buying them from the supermarket chiller. Rather than using tiny sausages, which are available this year, serve each person a bacon wrapped chipolata sausage. Use about three quarters of a rasher per person, and use the bit you cut off to mix in to the peas (see above). You can stretch each rasher with the back of a knife. You can secure with a cocktail stick if necessary, and if you have access to fresh sage, place a leaf between the sausage and the bacon for an extra special touch.
- there's no need to buy goose fat - besides it makes a terrible mess of your oven! Par boil your peeled potatoes for 7 minutes and then drain and allow to dry in the colander. Around 50 minutes before you dish up, heat up 250ml of olive oil - or sunflower oil - or a mixture of the two , in the oven. In a large bowl place a couple of tablespoons (depending on how many you are cooking for) of plain flour, seasoned with black pepper and salt, and toss the potatoes in this before adding to the oil, which should be so hot it sizzles. Turn the potatoes in the oil from time to time, for the first 40 minutes, then drain the oil off and return the pan back to the oven for a further ten minutes.
- don't be afraid to cook too many vegetables, don't dish them all up, use them up in a pie in boxing day, left over roast potatoes make a perfect potato salad (mix with mayonnaise, snipped chives and perhaps some hard boiled egg)
- make your own coleslaw with three large carrots, thinly sliced by using a potato peeler. Put the carrot in a large bowl with 1/2 a white cabbage, shredded. Add in the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche or mayonnaise, mix together and season with a little black pepper and salt.
- Rather than cooking a whole gammon, try buying a piece of cooked ham, its delicious in sandwiches or thinly sliced with a salad on boxing day. Use up the leftovers in a carbonara before New Year.
- pick up a packet of ready rolled puff pastry, you can make a fantastic pie with the left over turkey and/or ham. Perfect sauce to the pie will be made with 3tbsp left over cream or creme fraiche. Add in cooked left over vegetables and a couple of leeks (sweated down in a little butter) Top with the pastry and bake in the oven until the top has puffed up perfectly.
-No Puff Pastry? thats okay top with potatos http://www.frugalfoods.co.uk/index.php/fayes-frugal-food-blog/item/leftover-chicken-bake?category_id=1
- After Christmas day you will always find supermarkets trying to off load their overstocks of sausage meat, buy them up. Add one small grated onion, a sour apple (two eating or one cooking) grated, some fresh parsley, or dried mixed herbs, 50g of breadcrumbs, a shake of tobasco sauce, and stir well. Take a sheet of puff pastry, and lie flat, place three our four hard boiled eggs, and the sausagemeat mixture down the centre and fold the pastry over and crimp the edges to make a huge sausage roll. Brush all over with beaten egg or milk and bake for 40 minutes at 200C. Perfect either hot or cold, the following day.
- Spinach and filo pie works really well with shredded cooked turkey.
- Dont just leave the jar of cranberry sauce in the fridge until you throw it away in April take a look at http://www.oceanspray.co.uk/recipes for some inspiration
What ever you do, have a fab time. Wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas.
Love Faye x