LIVE AND LETS SAVE Petr Kratochvil

Enjoy a Christmas feast without breaking the budget

YES, it is possible to enjoy your Christmas lunch without breaking the bank.

The best way to do this is to share the load and a budget. Don't hesitate if a guest asks if they can bring something. Have a list ready to go and write down who is bringing what so you get a good coverage and don't double up.

Make it simple and just remember don't overdo it.

Start with a punch and a few dips and nibbles. Just a few as you don't want to ruin your lunch: also ask guests to BYO drinks.

If you decide to go with the seafood lunch you can go to your local fishing co-op before Christmas and order the prawns. Buy green and frozen prawns as they are much nicer when you poach your own. The sweet, meaty flavour of prawns makes them perfect contenders for poaching and helps to retain moisture and gives the opportunity to add flavour by adding aromatics to the poaching liquid.

Prawn cocktails are a nice starter. Making your own dressing for prawns is so quick and simple instead of paying $. If you buy in bulk, you can reduce the cost per kilo quite significantly. Why not see if a friend wants to go halves in a 5kg box of prawns?

Calamari and mussels are tasty and cheap seafood so don't hesitate using these delicious sustainable morsels on a platter. If you buy sliced leg ham from the deli instead a large piece or leg you will only use what you need far less outlay.

Buying cheaper cuts of meat can save bucks and will taste wonderful when marinaded and cooked slowly. This can save quite a few dollars off your budget if you use a shoulder cut instead of leg of lamb or pork buy early before the rush and freeze. Roast chicken is also a better idea than turkey much cheaper and less prone to drying out. Making your own sauces can be very simple, quick and cost effective and yum.

Why not have a baking day and make your own mince tarts and plum pudding? Home-made always taste better. The process is fairly simple for mince tarts. Buy the pastry and a jar of fruit mince from your local supermarket and bake a batch. Shortbread is also another simple treat to make. Plum pudding can be fiddly but well worth the effort.

Cold desserts can be made of fresh fruit with dipping sauce, pavlova and my all-time favourite trifle.

Just remember less is more so you can enjoy your day. Try to make sure most of your preparation is done the day before or earlier and write that list of what you need to do and when to do it.

Have a very tasty and Merry Christmas!

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