It’s the festive season once more, which means tinsel, paper hats, high spirits and low bank balances. Christmas is the one time of year we as a country collectively abandon our savings strategies, disregard our diets, and pledge to pass out in a food coma before the afternoon is over.
Unlike the freezing, snow-coated North Hemisphere, the festive season in Australia is absolutely
scorching hot, which can provide an opportunity to stretch the limits of your imagination in creating an
epic Christmas lunch - without straining your wallet.
If you’re exhausted from just thinking about spending the day hunched over a steaming oven or balancing the task of roasting a ridiculously expensive turkey, here are some super-tasty, cheap Christmas Lunch Ideas to impress your guests and loved ones.
Christmas lunch starters
Even the most punctual person can get thrown off their schedule during Christmas time, so if you’re hosting the festive lunch, don’t expect everyone to show up on time and all at once. However, you don’t want to be a bad host, which means providing your guests with a variety of tasty treats and Christmas snacks to tide them over until the main course.
Here are some super simple and affordable ideas for Christmas Starters and Entrees:
- Asparagus with sesame seeds and fresh herb tahini
- Prawn & avocado lettuce cups
- Smoked salmon tartines with red-onion caper relish
- Herby rice and mozzarella croquettes
- Christmas Burger Sliders
Christmas lunch main courses
The consensus from the foodie world is that turkey is overrated. That’s right, even Rick Stein says
so. Writers tend to prefer goose or chicken, so why not stick with a roast chicken which is always a hit and
cheap into the bargain?
You can put some garlic and rosemary from the garden onto your potatoes and be ready to go in no time.
- Stuffed Roast Chicken with potatoes
- Sliced Leg Ham with Mango, Avocado and Chilli Salsa
If you’re going to have to sacrifice quality in your Christmas lunch, why not move away from the traditional and have a good quality non-traditional menu?
Smoked salmon may not figure as a key fixture in Deck the Halls but it’s perfect for a hot day so ignore the traditions, as is the ever popular Asian noodle salad.
- Crunchy asian noodle salad
- Potato, pea and mint salad
- Crunchy silverbeet slaw vegan salad
Christmas Desserts and Baking
Everyone seems to have a sweet tooth over the festive season, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who can’t fit a little extra into their ‘dessert stomach’. The best part about baking during Christmas is that these also work well as extra gifts to give to friends and family if you’re on a budget.
Here are some brilliant budget desserts that’ll satisfy any after-lunch craving:
- Loaded banana split pie
- Hot cross bun jam doughnuts
- Lemon dessert lasagne
- Gingerbread-spiced maple syrup nuts
6 simple tips to save money on your Christmas lunch
1. The biggest Christmas expense is wasted food
Whether it’s Christmas lunch or dinner, we have a habit of overbuying produce and wasting food. In fact, Australian’s on average waste $1,036 p.a. – a good portion of that likely at Christmas lunch.
Remember to be accurate with your Christmas lunch portions; it’s not hard and just takes a little
bit of work to figure out exactly who you are feeding, how much you need and in turn how much produce you
A little planning can go a long way with reducing the cost of Christmas lunch.
2. Don’t let Christmas be an excuse for decadence
Christmas is often a time of decadence. Put your self-control to work by starting with Christmas lunch - focus on getting the most out of your ingredients without ruining your budget.
3. Avoid too much variety with your Christmas lunch recipes
Variety at the Christmas lunch table means extra preparation and extra cost. Try to avoid excess
variety by sticking to tried, tested and popular Christmas lunch recipes that your family and friends love.
Cold leg ham, creamy potato salads, fresh lettuce and tomato salads; these are the simple Christmas lunch ideas that never fail.
4. Ask family to bring useful foods items to help prepare the Christmas lunch
Forget the Lindt chocolates that were leftover from Easter, get your family to contribute key items
to the Christmas lunch itself.
If you don’t feel right asking people to bring pre-prepared salads, sides and desserts – opt instead for condiments and alcohol that will cut some cost from hosting the Christmas lunch. Don’t forget, guests to your house often want to bring something, so simply guide them into bringing the right item.
5. Prepare a Christmas lunch that doesn’t utilise Christmas only ingredients
To save even more money, avoid buying Christmas only ingredients. Mince pies and Brandy Cream come
at a premium each December.
Try to utilise ingredients that are year round; potatoes, ham, tomato, steaks, seafood and more. Make plenty of salads for Christmas lunch; it adds variety but not cost.
Salads are cheap and easy to make, while bringing variety to the Christmas lunch table without the cost. Opt for more salad at your Christmas lunch to reduce the amount of meat and vegetables you need to make
6. Don’t buy multiple types of Christmas meat for lunch
Turkey, ham, chicken, where do you stop? This year try and buy one type of meat, say a large leg of
ham, and simply prepare in multiple ways.
You could honey bake a portion of the ham, fry a few strips or season and BBQ others. One meat, multiple ways to make it taste great.
Merry Christmas and enjoy the Christmas lunch
Best wishes to all for the festive season, I hope your Christmas contains some great food and lots
of wine. Be sure to send in photos of what your Christmas lunch included (before and after shots are always
my favourites), and any great tips you’ve picked up over the years.
Have a wonderful festive season!