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Christmas lunch is about family time and showing your love through food. Don’t let overspending kill the mood.

  1. Resist the temptation to overdo it. Preparing too many dishes, and too much food overall not only costs a bomb, but it can result in wasted food. These days we’re all happy with a limited menu done really well (a philosophy adopted by many top restaurants).

  2. Simplify your decor. Following the lead of those top restaurants, decorate your Christmas table in a modern-rustic theme, which serves to make your simple-yet-delicious menu feel more high-end and special. Pinterest has lots of ideas that don’t cost a lot.

  3. Be more vego. Re-thinking our meat consumption is quite a theme at the moment, and the trend for vegetarianism is growing massively in Australia. (Those “top restaurants” know all about it.) Take advantage of the trend and cook less meat at Christmas, saving money while you’re at it.

  4. Lean on the growers in your family. Does your Auntie Bev grow her own cherry tomatoes? Does your brother-in-law harvest a bumper crop of asparagus each summer? Put in a special request and plan some salads around them to save some pennies. Meanwhile your loved ones will be chuffed to have their farming skills appreciated.

  5. Graciously accept all offers. Let family and friends contribute a dish, and gently steer them towards items that are their specialty, or that will complement your menu.
  6. Think outside the traditional Christmas menu. Base your dishes around what’s in season rather than around old-fashioned staples. At Christmas our fruit shops are overflowing with well-priced mangoes, asparagus, pineapple, eggplants… see taste.com.au for a full list.

  7. Shop where the most bargains are. This Choice survey says that’s generally Aldi. (They also have cheap booze.) Aldi’s competitors can be good for price promotions.
  8. Have a barbie. That idea of mum slaving over Christmas lunch, wiping sweat from her brow as she hauls a giant slab of meat out of the oven? It’s so 1957. Fast forward to this decade, and Christmas should be a family effort. Try out some new recipes and delegate the barbecuing. And if you’re clever about it, you can work miracles with cheaper cuts of meat.

  9. Buy frozen prawns. That might sound like blasphemy, but talk to your friends and find out if they know a seafood supplier who has good-quality frozen prawns. Not only might they be cheaper, you can buy in advance and avoid the fish market scrum on Christmas Day

  10. Plan your leftovers. If you do have leftovers, the ham and chicken are easy – sandwiches for days. As for excess vegies – do like your grandparents would and recycle them. You can incorporate all sorts of cooked veg into frittatas or pies. Or freeze them to blend for soup or pasta sauce further down the track.