Get the app
Get the app

Download Ubomi

Signing takes up 2 minutes. Scan the QR code to send the app to your phone.

Or head to the app store

10 Christmas Dinner Ideas on a Budget

10 Christmas Dinner Ideas on a Budget

Christmas is several weeks away, and even now, families are gearing up for what is to come, especially what’s for dinner. When one of the events worth looking forward to is the Christmas meal, it’s time to grind the numbers on what food to buy and prepare, but how to get there when your funds might only go so much?

Here are ten ways to prepare a budget-meal Christmas dinner.

1. Outline

Start by drafting a rough outline of the food budget and how much money you can allot for it – after accounting for what you can invest on gifts. Once you have firmed out an exact amount to save for ingredients, consider having a buffer fund, but you have to stick with the original amount. A finance app like UBOMI may help you keep track of the budget.

2. Stocking up on long-shelf-life ingredients

Start shopping on ingredients that have a long shelf life; these will buy you time to have ample resources on hand before the holiday rush. They will also be critical for preparing any dishes you intend to spring as a surprise on the table.

In this same vein, evaluate your current cupboard for certain ingredients you listed in your budget that are actually in the inventory. If they are somehow in stock and their best-used-by date is well after Christmas, that’s no problem – any money that would have been used to buy them can be reprogrammed for other aspects of your Christmas meal budget.

3. Bubbly in bulk

Noted drinks such as champagne or red wine flow well during Christmas. To prepare for this, invest in the most affordable bottles available. Some drink retailers may offer a box of six or 12 bottles at discount rates. Be on watch if your preferred retailer has some drink samples for you to taste-test, this will be a chance to discover new drink varieties or brands.

Once you have secured a stock of bubbly, store them in a cool dry place as per instructions, not to be opened until the big day itself. Be prepared for the possibility that if you have any guests, they could bring some drinks as well. Ensure there’s a variety of drinks on offer for everyone – but as the ads go, drink responsibly.

4. Using credit card points

if you used your credit cards this year (and have somehow paid them off), you may have also amassed a certain number of reward points, depending on your issuing bank’s incentives programme. Learn more about the programme’s Christmas incentives and try to redeem the points on any items of interest. Take note: your favourite supermarket’s rewards programme may have special members-only incentives.

5. Portion size

Consider designing your Christmas meal based on the number of people expected to be present. This will help govern how many courses you will need to cook and thus prevent wastage. Some food experts claim, though, that for this setup you cannot prepare a buffet.

6. Potluck dinner

If you do have loved ones coming over, ask them about bringing over some food to the party, in addition to any gifts. Make sure your planned food items are not the same as what they will bring, to ensure there’s variety in taste. You can take the time to map out what you will prepare and delegate certain aspects or dishes to the other guests. This way, you can reduce stress from the preparations as someone else will cover a dish you could have made if not for the time.

7. The barbie

Christmas in Australia is never complete without some grilling love. Some food experts say it is fun to create budget grilling options for a Christmas barbeque. Aside from the ever-present shrimps on the barbie, consider ideas such as kebabs comprising sausages, meat cubes, and vegetables, and asparagus wrapped in bacon with matching sauce of either butter or feta cheese. If your budget allows for some steak, consider cutting it up into cubes or smaller bitesize portions, then marinade or rub as necessary.

8. Bigger salads and sides for dinner

Everybody knows Christmas can be a meat-heavy affair. For health reasons, try compensating with a slightly larger serving of salad and extra side dishes. Think about it: the salads may add more nutrients and fibre as counterbalance to the protein contained in the meat. Here are some ideas for potential Christmas salads, as crafted by the wonderful people at Delicious.

Notable sides to include on the menu – as much as the budget may allow – include mashed potatoes, grilled seasonal vegetables, bread, pasta, and mince pies.

9. No special dinnerware

You don’t need to invest in special Christmas dinnerware to decorate the table. Current dinnerware may be used instead, but take the time to have any existing Christmas decorations adorning the table. Any red or green tablecloth can be an effective backdrop.

Your budget might not have any wiggle room for Christmas decorations. It is perfectly fine, as you can still reuse any Christmas decorations left over from the previous year.

10. Centrepiece ham

No Aussie Christmas meal is ever complete without a slab of ham – and with the current cost of living crisis, acquiring a premium cut is paramount. Make this a considerable part of the food budget, but even when the butcher at your nearest grocery offers quality half-leg or full-leg ham for say, nine dollars a kilo, keep in mind the size of your dinner party and other food items on your menu. Any leftover ham can be repurposed for cooking other dishes over the next few days.

And speaking of centrepieces, never forget the pavlova!

The above tips might ring true in the current state of consumer spending in Australia. A recent study by Pureprofile revealed that the average food budget projected amongst Australians this Christmas is now at $302 down from $310 last year. Where 28 percent of respondents last year said they might spend less on food for the holidays, that number has jumped this time to 37 percent.

Still, the holidays, especially Christmas, are always a fun time to bring together loved ones. Good food and good vibes will help spread the love. What’s on your menu?

If you liked our “10 Christmas Dinner Ideas on a Budget” and find it useful, check our blogs regularly for more information on how to get out of debt and get updates on apps to help finances in Australia.