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7 Tips to Make Traditional Christmas Food and Drinks For Less

If planning a Christmas menu is making you (and your budget) break out in a cold sweat, here are 7 inexpensive Christmas food and drink hacks sure to please without breaking the bank. 


Have you been to the supermarket lately? I almost had a heart attack the other week when stocking up on meat for the freezer stash. Prices are up, darn you inflation, and with interest rates rising, I bet we all have less cash to splash now than we did last year!

Don't despair, I have some festive grocery hacks up my sleeve to help you reduce the impact of the rising costs of festive entertaining.

If you're serious about starting your budgeting journey now or need help keeping your festive spending in check, here are some simple ideas and cost-saving tips to make your Christmas feast more affordable.


1. Start by making the guest and shopping lists early

Being organised ahead of time is key to hosting a budget-friendly Christmas or any event for that matter.

It gives you time to plan, prepare and execute - maximising savings (and reducing the risks of taking on extra debt in the process). Here is what you can do now:

  • Make a list of all the people you are planning to host for Christmas.

  • Start planning the menu now so that you can take advantage of half-price specials on non-perishables and freezer stock.

  • Work your spending into your budget.

ALSO CHECK OUT MY: 8 tips to make a last-minute Christmas budget and avoid a financial hangover come January.

2. Add soup to your menu

I know what you're thinking. "Umm...Okay... You said traditional." But hear me out.

My background is Polish. Traditionally, we serve a clear beetroot soup (broscht) with sauerkraut and mushroom dumplings, or a cream of wild mushroom soup with pasta as a starter for Christmas. Why?

It's a bit of a thing to start most meals with a soup starter in Poland. Come to think of it, it serves a budget-friendly purpose. It fills up bellies on the cheap so that you need less food for the main meal.

Additionally, putting soup on your menu will make the meal seem more posh. Like a fancy 3-course restaurant meal. OBVIOUSLY, it doesn't have to be lobster bisque - but hey, if you've budgeted for it, by all means, go for it and enjoy every spoonful.

Otherwise, try simple broth-style soups or creamy numbers that run with the seasons:

  • Chicken bone broth with short angel hair pasta and parsley.

  • Coconut pumpkin soup that costs less than $1 per serve.

  • Cream of potato and leek soup.

Serve the soup with some crusty sourdough bread or cheesy baguette to add extra bulk to the meal, relatively cheaply, of course!

3. Christmas ham on a budget

Christmas ham is a staple for many festive celebrations. I know, because being a food stylist I normally have cooked about 10 hams for various clients by the time it's November.

So how do you make Christmas ham on a budget? Don't buy a whole leg. Or even half.

You can get small hams or simply pop into the deli and get some sliced ham - about 4 thin slices per person, then dress it up as a wreath with letttuce, tomatoes olives and cheese balls, and serve with a jammy glaze on the side.

4. Christmas roast on a budget

A roast Christmas dinner is a tradition in many countries and households. Whether it's roast turkey, pork or other meat, there are ways to prepare a delicious feast on a budget here too.

  • Compare prices across butcher shops and various supermarkets.

  • Opt for cheaper cuts - pork shoulder, pork neck, Boston butt and pork loin. Lamb shoulder and beef oyster blade roast are good choices too.

  • If a whole turkey is out of your budget opt for buffet-style boneless turkey roast or swap the turkey for chicken. Wrap it in some prosciutto to add festive flair.

  • Make stuffing to add bulk, texture and flavour to your roast dinner.

  • Prep it yourself - marinated or seasoned-for-you roasts can be up to double the price!

  • Try ordering directly from farm gates or wholesalers in your local area.

To serve, go with a potato salad - here is my Polish version - or opt for in-season roast veggies on the side. This is when they are the cheapest so don't be afraid to bulk the meal out with lots of veg: potatoes, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips - choose whatever is cheapest where you live.

5. Christmas prawns on a budget

Prawns (shrimp) are a quintessentially Australian Christmas staple, but getting fresh ones on Christmas Eve can be a painstaking task