Christmas is around the corner. And if I want to keep my remaining friends, I can’t have a repeat of Ramen-and-Nutella night from last year. I’m still getting anonymous Christmas cards addressed to ‘A. Tightwad’, with my face superimposed on Uncle Scrooge. But I’m going to show them I’ve changed. I’m going to provide a proper Christmas dinner. ON A BUDGET! Mwahaha! Follow me and I’ll show you how:
Don’t Buy a Whole Turkey
A whole turkey will cost you about $45. A pre-cooked turkey, with ready made stuffing, is often over $60.
Most people don’t finish the whole turkey. Besides, whole turkey involves a lot of inconvenience, like having to order a week in advance. And then you have to cook it in an oven. Fine if you like cooking, but I’ve worked five years in F&B, and I’d rather eat live porcupines than touch another oven. Nah, what I’m going to do is buy sliced turkey ham.
Check the prices at Cold Storage or Carrefour; about $30 worth will feed seven people. With a jar of pre-made apple sauce ($2), it’s good to go.
Make the Small Snacks Yourself
It’s easy to make elegant snack food. Plain crackers with a bit of pate, or tiny sausages stuck onto pineapples. It’s classy (assuming your idea of class includes Ris Low and champagne coloured cars). But since half my acquaintances make Phua Chu Kang look like the Duke of Cornwall, it’ll do.
Tinned sausages and pineapples are around $3.00 a can. $12 gets me a family sized pack of crackers, and $20 is more than enough mushroom pate (from Cold Storage). You can also get Feta cheese packs (about $5 each), which go great with anything you eat on a toothpick.
Cheaper than buying pre-made canapes!
When deciding how many drinks I need, I always go for a low estimate. This is because they’re easy to replenish; if I run out, a quick trip to the petrol station will fix it. Also, my friends usually bring bottles of wine or six packs, which I’ll open there and then.
Last year I bought so many drink cartons the clerk asked me where my store was. And for the rest of the month I was drinking Yeo’s until my kidneys threatened to quit.
Don’t Buy Branded
Don’t buy puddings or log cakes with big brand names, unless the price is really decent. Quality differences in certain foods, such as bread puddings or smoked ham, are imperceptible. They should be, because they probably come from the same food supplier.
Same goes for sauces and gravies. A brand label can jack up the price of cranberry or apple sauce by as much as 30 percent, and the quantities may actually be smaller.
Smaller Portions or Fewer Mains
If you have less than 10 people, then odds are you don’t need more than two mains. Turkey and ham are probably enough. You don’t need to have every traditional Christmas dish, regardless of your guest list.
Or if you must have the whole range, see if you can buy smaller portions (slices instead of whole puddings, or half a ham instead of the whole leg). That way, everyone can get a small sample of everything.
Got tips for saving on Christmas dinner? Comment and let us know!
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