A glorious roast turkey with all of the seasonal trimmings doesn’t have to only be a dream in your student abode. Check out Nerve’s top tips on how to have a festive feast to remember without parting ways with too much cash.
For many of us, the most exciting thing about Christmas is the food: the mince pies, roast turkey, yule log, pigs in blankets ….. (the mouthwatering list goes on…). But, unfortunately, being the hard working and stingy students that we are, it can be hard to indulge in all of the festive goodies without feeling like you are emptying your bank account. Of course, you can choose to be picky and precise: only buy small bits of the good stuff (if your willpower and restraint allows…) or you can use your money saving superpowers to have all of your favourite eats with some money to spare on presents for the family as well. I know: ideal, right?
Make some friends.
No one should be having a lonesome Christmas dinner. The more, the merrier (and the cheaper…). Get as many people involved as you can fit in your kitchen then split the cost of the ingredients. Alternatively, to save stressing out your abused student oven, get friends to all bring a different dish. (I.e Paul on potatoes, Caroline on carrots , Steve on stuffing….) That way, everyone should have something they want and you won’t be burdened with the task of having to fit in 30 roast potatoes in the oven with two whole turkeys while simultaneously stirring the veg and whisking up a gravy with your non-existent extra hands.
Ok, so you’ve agreed who’s cooking what and now it’s time to do the shop.
Where to shop to get the best value?
If you’re an experience student saver, you will probably be aware that buying frozen food can work out cheaper in the long run. As far as festive veg goes, frozen carrots/sprouts/broccoli/peas are definitely the way forward. They actually contain just as many nutrients as fresh, as easier to store and are so much cheaper. Cook them properly and they can still taste dreamy.
As this is no ordinary roast, but a roast of celebration and joy, good potatoes and yorkshire puddings are a must. Again, frozen potatoes and puds are surprisingly easy and yummy. If you fancy trying spuds from fresh, just peel, chop and pre-boil for around 10 mins before whacking in a hot oven for around 50 mins. Flavour with your favourite herbs and spices (rosemary and thyme are good go-to’s if your stuck).
Another way to make sure you’re spending as little as possible on your seasonal munchies is to use comparative websites such as mysupermarket.com to see which store offers the cheapest price. Who knew a turkey could range from £9 to £200?
A quick fix for gravy is using gravy granules where you can just stir in some boiling water and adjust to the thickness of your choice. If however, you are a bit more daring and willing to show off your inner Jamie Oliver, you can make your own gravy from scratch. Use only the juices from the meat, a sprinkling of flour, a bit of water and a stock cube. All of those things you probably have in your cupboard anyway.
Pudding is a tricky one. There may only be a few people in the house that actually like Christmas pudding. It’s a bit of a faff buying all of the ingredients and cooking up one from scratch. This is where mince pies come in. Mince pies are amazing because LIDL have the best mince pies ever at half the price of those at M&S or Waitrose. (Don’t believe me? Click here) You can even make your own easily using shop-bought pastry and mincemeat.
Last but not least! The Christmas touches that separate this meal from every other. The food could be horrible: the meat burnt, the carrots soggy and the potatoes raw. But it doesn’t matter when you are with your friends and having fun. To feel extra festive, get crackers, awkward paper hats, whip out the embarrassing Christmas jumper and destroy your house in tinsel. If you are too swept up in creating the perfect Christmas meal to notice that the one housemate that never leaves their room has strangely emerged to enjoy the fun then you are not doing it right!