It’s time to get your jolly on, it’s Christmas folks! That’s right; the daggy hats and the tinsel. The carols that have no relevance to any kind of Australian reality, where it’s more likely to be hot than a white Christmas and the only ringing you’ll hear will be the one in your ears after too much red at Christmas lunch.
The games, the drunk uncles, the yearnings for the pool. I love Christmas, every last part of it. But there is one element of it that I don’t understand at all.
The steaming hot Christmas lunch in a steaming hot climate remains an enigma to me. Christmas in Australia is hot, yet it seems we remain fixated on the turkey and ham, the pork and apple sauce. We may as well cook it outside, because invariably it’s as hot as an oven. It’s like our one last link to the mother country, and we can’t let it go.
It’s also expensive.
Here are some cheap Christmas lunch ideas as an alternative;
Christmas lunch entrée’s
I like the idea of having unusual food for Christmas as opposed to the obvious, so this recipe ticks all my boxes. The fresh herb tahini would go down a treat in the hot weather.
A favourite for young and old; prawn, avocado and a little side aioli if you fancy.
The perfect Christmas canape; fresh, easy to eat and a perfect for hot summers days.
Christmas lunch main courses
Why not capitalize on this great gift of ours, which is summer fruit in season for Christmas? If I could really have my wish, I would have three courses of mango with some nectarines on the side. Embrace an Australian Christmas, and introduce seasonal fruit and vegetables into the menu. Because they’re in season, they’ll also be cheaper.
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.
It’s light and fresh and will be just the ticket for what’s set to be an absolute boiler if early December is any indication.
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.
I also like giving away baked goods as Christmas gifts, so I’m taking this years gift idea from Germany. Vanillekipferl are a German shortbread which are easy to make and very inexpensive so if you’ve got a few last minute gifts to buy, why not whip up a batch instead? This is a good recipe.
Tips to save money on your Christmas lunch
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 require.
A little planning can go a long way with reducing the cost of Christmas lunch.
Don’t let Christmas be an excuse for decadence
Christmas is often a time of decadence. We tell ourselves that ‘we deserve it’ yet stand perplexed come January when we are in excessive credit card debt and scrounging for dollars in coin jars prior to pay day.
Put your self-control to work by starting with Christmas lunch. Buy enough Christmas lunch ingredients for people to enjoy their meal but be left wanting more. I think someone like Martha Stewart once said that, though for now I will claim it as her hair scares me.
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.
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.
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; potatos, 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.
Don’t buy multiple Christmas meats for the 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 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. Bottoms up.