The only unfortunate thing about the Christmas holiday is that it comes rather quickly after Thanksgiving, which means you have to shell out for two major meals – more like festivities, for many families – in the space of a month.
And that’s completely leaving out the stress of buying presents, organizing holidays, and just trying to not freeze! This can potentially wreak havoc on your wallet if you don’t plan accordingly, which is why this article exists – to help you make a delectable Christmas dinner on a budget.
The key points involve reducing the cost down enough to make a fulfilling meal for everyone. In this current digital age, you can use the services of a grocery app to find the best values for the myriad of ingredients you might need. Then, gather up a handful of loved ones or friends who will be at the Christmas dinner party, and go value shopping for all the necessary ingredients.
A Few Ideas for Christmas Dinner Ingredients
Decide, first of all, on how much you want the meals to cost per head. A good figure is $5 per head; so this means you obviously have to have a head count, and you want the resulting meals to be quite generous – such that a single person might have trouble finishing his or her plate. With items such as chicken breasts, goat’s cheese, and mashed potatoes on the menu, you could really whip up something special on the cheap:
- Salt and pepper for seasoning, of course
- A single turkey breast or chicken breast for each person expected
- Olive oil for cooking
- Idaho potatoes
- Baby carrots (or adult stalks if you prefer)
- Frozen Yorkshire pudding
- Parsnips and frozen peas
Although it might be tempting to buy an entire turkey or chicken, keep in mind that cooking can be tricky for such a large item – assuming you can even fit it entirely inside your mid-sized oven. This is the rationale for opting for breast meat, instead.
For vegetarians or vegans, you can swap out some of the ingredients for non-animal products that better suit your palette. Try, for example, onions and puff pastry instead of the meat.
Cooking Christmas Dinner to Taste: The Method
You can gather a few extra ingredients first, such as Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, pigs-in-a-blanket for the non-vegan families and common flavor enhancers like garlic, lemons, flour, honey, and herbs. Now, without further ado, the actual recipe in action:
1. Cook the Potatoes
The first order of business is to roast the potatoes – Idaho or Russet are some consistently good brands. Peel them first, and slice them up if you prefer before boiling for 10 minutes.
Next, place them in the oven in a pot of olive oil for 20 minutes; then turn them over and do the same for 30 minutes at 430 degrees F. Don’t worry about the excess olive oil; you’ll be cooking the meat and/or veggies in the same pot. To be certain the potatoes are done, slide a fork or butter knife into the center – it should be a smooth, resistance-less journey in and out.
2. The Parsnips and Carrots
Unless you got baby carrots, then you’ll have to cut the carrots into long slices. Do the same thing with the parsnips. Once they’re all slice to order, toss some olive oil onto both and place it in the same pan that the potatoes were just in. Add sugar or honey, and roast for 20 minutes until done.
3. The Turkey or Chicken
The next order of business in getting this inexpensive but delectable meal together is cooking the main course. Place the meat in a ceramic dish for cooking; put some olive oil on it (or just use the same one you used for both the potatoes and the veggies) and put it in the oven at a temperature of 390 degrees F.
Let it cook for a full half-hour or 35 minutes. Add all the seasoning you want as it cooks; then extract it from the oven and turn it around before cooking the other side for 30-35 minutes.
Pro tip: Put the meat in before the potatoes to cut down on the time taken for the entire meal.
4. The Yorkshire Pudding and Frozen Peas
Put some olive oil in a muffin tray and mix 4 eggs together with 1.5 cups of milk. The pudding should be ready-made, so you only need a few minutes of heating to have them ready to serve. Once you add flour to the egg and milk mixture, cook the muffins until they are golden brown.
The easiest of the bunch, gravy often comes ready-made – unless you want to do yours from scratch. Otherwise, all you’ll need is boiled water to mix with the instant gravy sold almost anywhere. Christmas dinner has never been so cheap and yet so good!