Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a slap up Christmas dinner with all the trimmings! This Easy Budget Christmas Dinner costs just £3.73 a head and includes all the Christmas essentials: roast turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and the most amazing turkey gravy – plus Christmas pudding and cream for dessert!
Christmas dinner with all the trimmings – on a budget!
With the economic situation as it is right now, I know many of you are on a tight budget. But, just because you are on a budget shouldn’t mean you can’t have a slap up Christmas dinner with all the trimmings!
I set myself the challenge this year of creating a delicious Christmas dinner – including roast turkey – for under £4 a head. And I am pleased to say that I came in well under!
This Easy Budget Christmas Dinner costs just £3.73 a head and includes all the Christmas essentials: roast turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and the most amazing turkey gravy – plus Christmas pudding and cream for dessert!
In fact, it’s probably possible to make this dinner even cheaper by shopping around…
How I arrived at that £3.73 figure
The £3.73 figure is based on the cost of all the ingredients bought at Tesco on the 28th November 2023. However, if you shop around and/or take advantage of special offers (there are usually some good deals on Christmas food in the run-up to Christmas), you can probably make this dinner even cheaper.
The £3.73 figure is based on the specific ingredients used in this recipe. Where an ingredient comes in a larger pack, I have not included the cost of the entire pack, just the amount you will need for this meal. (For example: herbs, cornflour, eggs, oil.)
The £3.73 figure is based on cooking this meal for 4 people. (It actually works out as a total of £14.91.)
However, this menu is very easy to double up for 8. (See the recipe notes below for how.) And if you are cooking for a larger crowd, you may find it’s even cheaper per head as you may be able to take advantage of bulk buy savings.
Budget Christmas Dinner Time Plan
As well as devising a Christmas dinner menu that comes in at less than £4 per head. I have also created a time plan to make your life even easier!
I have written this time plan assuming you are eating at 2.30pm – if you are planning to eat earlier or later, simply adjust the times forwards or back, as appropriate.
PLEASE NOTE: While technically 1 person can do this entire menu plan – you’d have to be a pretty competent cook and work fast. (I can do it, so it’s definitely possible!) But for most people this will work out better if there are 2 of you working together – so I recommend you rope in a sous chef!
A note on quantities
Quantities are a very personal thing – given that this is a ‘budget’ Christmas dinner, I have gone for modest servings of everything – this is roughly how much my family eat on Christmas day (bearing in mind everyone has generally indulged in far too many Quality Streets and other nibbles before lunch!) Feel free to scale up anything you feel you family will eat more of than mine!
A word about fuel costs
The £3.73 figure covers only the cost of the ingredients and not the cost of fuel. I have tried to keep fuel costs to a minimum as much as possible, but given you are cooking a large roast dinner, the oven is going to have to be on for a few hours.
It is very hard to say for certain how much this will cost in fuel as there are so many variables, but as a ballpark you are looking at something in the region of £3.00 in energy costs for the whole meal. (So, 75p per person, if cooking for 4. Or 37.5p per person if cooking for 8, since cooking for 8 doesn’t really use any more energy.)
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that while microwaves and air fryers typically offer energy cost savings when cooking small amounts of food, when cooking a full roast dinner, using an air fryer or microwave will usually cost MORE than using an oven! (That’s not just me saying that, that’s according to Martin Lewis and Emily Seymour, Which? Energy Editor)
What’s in the Budget Christmas Dinner?
This Easy Budget Christmas Dinner includes all the Christmas essentials: roast turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and the most amazing turkey gravy – plus Christmas pudding and cream for dessert!
Roast Turkey is by far the most expensive part of the traditional Christmas spread (often £20+), so it’s here I needed to make the most significant savings.
Most Budget Christmas Dinners you’ll find on the internet deal with this by going for roast chicken instead of the traditional turkey. This is certainly one way to cut costs.
But what if you really want turkey?
If it absolutely has to be turkey for you then I have a nifty solution: Slow Roast Turkey Leg.
Turkey leg joints (AKA turkey drumsticks) are much cheaper than whole turkeys and also usually significantly cheaper than ‘white meat’ joints, like turkey crowns and breast joints – making them a great option if you are watching the pennies. And that is what I have used to keep the costs down in this Budget Christmas Dinner, while still being able to include turkey.
But what if you hate ‘brown meat’?
Well, the first thing I’d say is – have you ever tried Slow Roast Turkey Leg? I was never much of a fan of brown turkey meat until I tried it slow roasted. Slow roasting improves both the texture and the flavour of the turkey leg, making it now one of my favourite ways to eat turkey.
But if you just really hate brown turkey meat, then I have a couple of other nifty turkey options for you to try that cost less than a standard ‘white meat’ turkey joint:
Homemade Turkey Gravy
One of the advantages of Slow Roast Turkey Leg is it makes the most AMAZING turkey gravy, thanks to the herb and vegetable ‘trivet’ that the turkey leg sits on during cooking… and of course all those delicious turkey juices.
If you choose to make roast chicken instead, you can use this chicken gravy recipe.
If you choose to follow a different turkey recipe, you can use this turkey gravy recipe. (Use a chicken carcass if you don’t have any giblets.)
For this Budget Christmas Dinner menu, I have slightly adapted my all time favourite roast potatoes recipe in two ways…
Firstly, to keep costs down, I’ve removed the red onions, herbs and garlic. But if that’s essential for you, then by all means put them back in.
Secondly, to cut down on cooking time and to make your life even easier, I’ve cut the potatoes smaller than I usually do. Not only does this mean less time in the kitchen on Christmas Day… it also means even more crispy skin!
Is it just me, or are the roast parsnips the best bit of the traditional Christmas dinner? (Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with me!)
Either way, I’ve used my good old faithful Perfect Roast Parsnips recipe here. This recipe needs no par boiling, which means less fuel used AND crispier roast parsnips – win win!
Carrots and Sprouts
I’ve kept things super easy here and simply steamed the carrots and the sprouts.
You could add some peas into the bottom of the steamer if peas are an essential for you on Christmas day.
If your sprouts absolutely must be cooked with chestnuts and bacon (and I don’t blame you – they are so delicious that way!) then use my Pan Fried Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon recipe instead.
Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls
I am a huge fan of Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls, and it seems so are you! My Easy Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls recipe is one of my most popular recipes – you get all that delicious sage and onion stuffing flavour with extra surface area for maximum crispy bits.
Plus they are super easy to make and very budget friendly… and far far nicer than shop bought.
If you want a different flavour of stuffing ball, check out these alternatives…
Pigs in Blankets
I did the maths, and it actually works out cheaper to buy ready-made pigs in blankets than to make them yourself. Given that buying them ready made means one less job to do on Christmas morning, and there’s no real difference in taste, it really is a no brainer to buy your pigs in blankets ready made!
Likewise, cranberry sauce works out much cheaper shop bought than homemade, so that’s what I have included in this Budget Christmas Dinner Menu.
However, homemade cranberry sauce is nicer, so if you’d prefer to make your own, I recommend this recipe: Easy Peasy Cranberry Sauce
And again, shop bought Christmas puddings are also cheaper than homemade ones, so again I have included a shop bought Christmas pudding in this Budget Christmas Dinner plan. But you can obviously swap this for a homemade one if you prefer!
In the menu plan, I’ve served the Christmas pudding with cream to keep the costs down. Custard would be another good low cost option. But you can always trade up to brandy butter or brandy cream if that’s what you prefer!
But what about…
If you’re there thinking, yeah but what about XYZ essential thing I always have to have on Christmas day, fear not, I have you covered!
As I wanted to keep the costs down to a minimum, this Budget Christmas Dinner menu features only what I consider the Christmas Dinner ‘essentials’. But if there’s something else you simply must have, you can simply add that in – just bear in mind each addition will add to the cost.
Here are the most likely ‘extras’ you might wish to add:
- Perfect Yorkshire Puddings
- Easy Peasy Cauliflower Cheese
- Braised Red Cabbage
- Homemade Bread Sauce
- Honey Roast Ham
- Easy Vegetarian Christmas Main
- Easy Peasy Christmas Cake
- Easy Peasy Mince Pies
- Christmas Chocolate Tart (Alternative to Christmas Pudding #1)
- Christmas Rocky Road (Alternative to Christmas Pudding #2)
- Christmas Chocolate Brownies (Alternative to Christmas Pudding #3)
Did you make it?
I would love to hear about if you made this Budget Christmas Dinner! Let us know how it went… plus any extra tips you have for us, or adaptations you’ve made, in the comment section below 😀
If you like this…
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Easy Budget Christmas Dinner (Just £3.73 per head!) + Time Plan
Turkey and gravy
- 2 large onions peeled and each one cut into 8 wedges
- 2 large carrots chopped into large chunks (no need to peel)
- 1 stick of celery chopped into large chunks
- 1 garlic bulb halved
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 300 ml chicken stock from a cube is fine
- 1 kg turkey leg (turkey drumstick)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornflour (US – cornstarch)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 large red or white onion finely diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200 g white breadcrumbs (see Note 4)
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
- Salt and pepper
- 1 medium egg beaten
- More olive oil
- More salt and pepper
- 750 g baking potatoes peeled and cut into 30g/1oz (ish) pieces
- 4 medium parsnips peeled and cut into 6 (see this recipe for how to cut parsnips perfectly )
- 2 large carrots peeled and cut into batons
- 200 g sprouts outer leaves peeled off and each sprout cut in half vertically
- 12 pigs in blankets I used Tesco own brand - See Note 5
- 1 jar cranberry sauce I used Tesco own brand - See Note 5
- 400 g Christmas pudding I used Tesco own brand - See Note 5
- 150 ml double cream
11.20am (See Note 6)
- Prepare the turkey as per Slow Roast Turkey Leg and cook in the oven for 2 hours at 160C / 140C fan / gas mark 3 / 325F. (Steps 1-6.)
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 30g pieces (ish!) Place in a saucepan and cover with just boiled water from the kettle. Cook for 10 minutes on a medium-high heat - start timing from the moment you turn on the heat.
- Start preparing the stuffing balls as per Easy Peasy Stuffing Balls
- Drain the potatoes and put them back in the saucepan. Put the lid on and shake the pan to rough up the edges. Remove the lid.
- Finish preparing the stuffing balls.
- Place the stuffing balls in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
- Turn the heat up to 220C / 200C fan / gas mark 7 / 425F, then take the turkey roasting tin out of the oven and remove the foil. Check there is enough liquid in the base. (Add a splash of boiling water if not.) Return the roasting tin to the oven and cook the turkey for a further 30 minutes to crisp up the skin.
- Drizzle a baking tray with enough oil to nearly coat the bottom of the tray and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. The baking tray should be large enough to fit all the potatoes in a single layer.
- Peel and halve the sprouts.
- Peel and cut the parsnips and carrots into batons.
- Place the prepared parsnips in a shallow roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Scatter over a little salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together, so the parsnips are well coated, then arrange in one layer.
- Remove the baking tray from the oven and then tip the cooked potatoes into the baking tray, taking care not to splash yourself with hot fat, and turn the potatoes in the oil to coat them.
- Put the potato tray straight back into the oven.
- Remove the stuffing balls from the oven, but leave on their roasting tray. (If not quite done, give them an extra 5 minutes and remove at 1.55pm.)
- Place the pigs in blankets in a lightly oiled roasting tray.
- Place the tray of parsnips in your preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.
- Place the tray of pigs in blankets in your preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes – or until piping hot all the way through.
- Get the potatoes out and spoon the hot fat over the potatoes to baste them. Return the potato tray to the oven.
- Remove the turkey tray from the oven and place the turkey on a board or plate to rest while you make the gravy. (See Note 7)
- Make the gravy as per Slow Roast Turkey Leg (Steps 10-13) then turn off, but leave in the pan.
- Boil the kettle (for steaming/boiling the carrots and sprouts).
- Steam the carrot batons and halved sprouts for 10 minutes, or until done to your liking. (Or boil them for 5-7 minutes if you don’t have a steamer.)
- Get the potatoes out and spoon the hot fat over the potatoes to baste them. Return the potato tray to the oven for a final 15 minutes.
- Remove the parsnips from the oven and turn all the parsnips over quickly. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes or until the parsnips are golden and crispy and just starting to go brown at the edges.
- Turn off the carrots and sprouts, drain (if necessary) and tip into a serving dish.
- Remove the tray of pigs in blankets from the oven and tip into a serving dish. (If not quite done, give them an extra 5 minutes and remove at 2.25pm.)
- Pop the stuffing balls back in the oven to warm back up for 5 minutes.
- Turn the gravy back on to reheat.
- Boil the kettle (for steaming the Christmas pudding if not microwaving – see Note 8)
- Put the Christmas pudding on to steam.
- Remove the parsnips from the oven and tip into a serving dish.
- Remove the roast potatoes from the oven and tip into a serving dish.
- Remove the stuffing balls from the oven and tip into a serving dish.
- (You can now turn the oven off.)
- Switch off the gravy and pour into a gravy boat or jug.
- Place everything on the table: the roast turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and the turkey gravy!
- Serve the Christmas pudding and cream.
- Quantities are a very personal thing – given that this is a ‘budget’ Christmas dinner, I have gone for modest servings of everything – this is roughly how much my family eat on Christmas day (bearing in mind everyone has generally indulged in far too many Quality Streets and other nibbles before lunch!) Feel free to scale up anything you feel you family will eat more of than mine!
- This budget Christmas menu serves 4, but it is easy to double it to serve 8. For the turkey, you only need to double the turkey leg itself (so 2 x 1kg turkey legs) and the chicken stock. The two turkey legs can be cooked side by side on the same bed of veggies – just make sure they are not touching each other. Everything else can be simply doubled, except the cranberry sauce – as a regular 200g jar of cranberry sauce should stretch to 8.
- Technically one person can do this entire menu plan – but you have to be a pretty competent cook and work fast. (I can do it, so it’s definitely possible!) But for most people this will work out better if there are two of you working together – so I recommend you rope in a sous chef!
- To make white breadcrumbs, just buy an ordinary white loaf, cut into thick slices (if not already sliced) and grate on the large holes of a cheese grater. It takes less than 5 minutes to get enough breadcrumbs for this recipe – cheaper (and nicer!) than buying breadcrumbs.
- It’s actually cheaper to buy pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and Christmas pudding than to make them yourself.
- I have written this time plan assuming you are eating at 2.30pm – if you are planning to eat earlier or later, simply adjust the times forwards or back, as appropriate.
- If you are worried your turkey leg will get cold, you can cover it in tin foil and then a couple of tea towels – the problem with this is that the skin will no longer be crispy. If your kitchen is quite warm, the turkey should not cool down too much during its resting time, so I generally leave it uncovered so the skin stays crispy!
- To keep fuel costs down, you may want to microwave the Christmas pudding – which takes just a couple of minutes, so you can do that right before you serve the pudding. However, if you possibly can, I recommend steaming the pud as, in my experience, it always turns out nicer steamed.
- To keep fuel costs down, I have written this plan assuming you will only be using 1 oven. (And besides, many people only have a single oven.) To fit everything in, you'll almost certainly need 3 levels. (My oven doesn't have 3 levels, so I shove my grill pan in the bottom to make the third.) If you have a double oven, then it will make your life a little easier to use both, but obviously that will increase fuel costs.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only. I realise this looks like a lot of calories... but when you consider that, according to research, the average Christmas dinner is 3914 calories, not including alcohol - that's actually not too bad!
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