TABLE THRIFT: Shop cleverly, plan your meals and discover that a tight budget doesn't have to compromise quality, flavour or abundance.
TABLE THRIFT: Shop cleverly, plan your meals and discover that a tight budget doesn't have to compromise quality, flavour or abundance. Greg Miller

Christmas lunch on the cheap: Top tips

DEEP pockets are not the key to a perfect Christmas lunch. This year, step outside the usual spending frenzy by opting for the pre-loved, homegrown and quirky. Shop cleverly, plan your meals and discover that a tight budget doesn't have to compromise quality, flavour or abundance.

RAID YOUR KITCHEN

Check your cupboards, freezer and fridge before making up your Christmas meal menu to avoid wasting money on items you already have. With some of those packs of dried fruit, nuts, breadcrumbs and jars of jam hiding in the pantry, you're already halfway to making a pudding or Christmas cake. Leftover spirits can go towards cocktails or punch. Jars of olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta or frozen chopped spinach and pastry will variety of tasty canapes.

USE PRICE-COMPARISON SITES

There are many websites that help you price check grocery items at your local supermarket including Coles and Woolworth. Check out grocerycop. com.au, www.frugl.com.au and the free app www.trolleysaver.com.au.

SHAKE IT UP WITH COCKTAILS

Alcohol is a Christmas budget killer, particularly if you are catering with a variety of different wines and spirits for a large crew. Instead, consider making one house cocktail for everyone. Some of the cheapest cocktails you can make at home are among the most popular at bars such as Mojitos and Martinis. Homemade syrups, inexpensive fruits, juices and mixers, plus herbs from your garden will help cut the drink costs. Tip two: Drink responsibly.

DOLLAR STORES AND OP-SHOPS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Hosting a large Christmas lunch or dinner may require additional chairs, cutlery, glasses cups and napkins. Source second-hand tables and chairs from Gumtree or op-shops, reuse old jam jars topped with a straw as drinking glasses and see if you can borrow some items from the neighbours. Dollar shops can be your inexpensive go-to for candles, napkins and table decorations.

LET THE GUESTS HELP

Ask your guests to show off their favourite Christmas side dish or dessert. It's an inclusive way of allowing them to bring their Christmas traditions to the table. It doesn't make you a bad host as most people, are delighted to showcase a recipe. Plus it gives the host more time and money to prepare the ham, turkey or seafood. Of course, while turkeys and hams are spectacular Christmas centrepieces, they are pricey so keep in mind equally-loved, more unusual cuts of meat. Try a whole organic roast chook, pork-belly or shoulder roast.



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