Christmas dinner is a huge part of the festivities, but can be pricy for a student. Most students have never cooked a meal this big, let alone figured out how to do it on a budget.
Starting off is hard, so using shop bought things is fine for a beginner – and mostly cheaper – just make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.
A bag of carrots or parsnips only costs 40p each and there are so many ways to cook them. You can boil them or roast them, whichever you prefer.
1) To roast them, first peel and slice your vegetables into long chunks.
2) In a roasting tray, add 3 1/2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of honey. Place in the oven at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
3) Boil your sliced vegetables in salted water for around five minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and mix, then drain your vegetables and add them to the tray. If preferred, add some thyme or salt and pepper to the tray.
4) Roast for 30 minutes.
Adding Brussels sprouts to your meal is up to you, but they’re only £1 if you buy them unpeeled. Make sure you remove the stalks and any spoiled outer leaves, which may be yellow.
To boil, just add them to a pan of water and boil for 5-10 minutes, depending on size.
Alternatively, they can be roasted. Just place them in a roasting dish, drizzle oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Cook them at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 15 minutes, shake the tray and roast for another 15 minutes.
Maris Piper potatoes are the best for roasting. A bag of these will cost around £1.15, but it’s worth it for glorious roasties.
1) Pour oil into your roasting tray and place it in the oven at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 to heat up.
2) Peel and cut your potatoes into four, then boil them in salty water for 5-7 minutes. Drain them and add two tablespoons of flour to the pan. Give it a good shake to “fluff them up”. Take your roasting tray out of the oven and put your potatoes on it in a single layer.
3) Roast them in the oven for 15 minutes at a time, turning them to ensure all of the sides are evenly roasted. It should take between 40-50 minutes. They should look golden and crispy when ready.
Turkey breast or chicken is much cheaper than a whole bird. Four turkey breasts cost around £3.50 or you can buy a whole chicken. A 1.5kg to 1.9kg one costs around £3.50 or a 1.9kg to 2.3kg costs around £4.75.
Compared to turkey prices which can start from approximately £10 for a small one (2.6kg to 3.8kg), it’s clear chicken or breast meat is the cheaper option. You can even cut costs by buying chicken legs for around £2.
If roasting a whole chicken:
1) Preheat your oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Line your roasting dish with tin foil. This makes cleaning up a lot easier.
2) Place your chicken in the tray and rub butter all over and in it. Put halved lemons on the inside with herbs like rosemary and thyme. Scatter salt and pepper over the top and inside the chicken.
3) Roast it in the oven for around 45 minutes to an hour. A good rule to follow is half an hour for each kilogram the chicken weighs with an additional 15 minutes to be safe. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
If serving breasts:
1) Preheat your oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
2) Season your breasts with salt and pepper. Mix olive oil, one teaspoon of dried thyme and the juice and zest of one lemon. Pour this into a roasting dish and add your breasts.
3) Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until brown and cooked through. As it’s baking, make sure it’s covered in juices for plenty of flavour. Let it rest for 15 minutes once done.
Pigs in blankets
The cheapest pigs in blankets I could find were £2.50 for 12. It would cost around the same to make them by hand, if not more.
Gravy granules are cheap and the easiest option. Add thyme or sage for more flavour. They’re as cheap as 30p so perfect for sticking to a budget.
If you’re roasting a chicken, you can use the juices from it to make your gravy. Add vegetable stock and flour until it’s a thicker consistency.
A sage and onion stuffing mix packet starts at 30p. Although it’s delicious homemade, it’s cheaper to buy it and it still tastes good.
This sweet accompaniment is cheaper to buy, costing between 50p and £1. You don’t need a huge amount and you can enjoy it on sandwiches the next day.
Unless you have flour, eggs and milk already, it’s cheaper to buy Yorkshire puddings. It ranges from 69p to £1 for 12.
Celebrating Christmas with your uni family is better with Christmas dinner. Although Christmas dinner can be a pricy meal, you get plenty of leftovers you can enjoy for a few days.
Feature image credit: Country Living Magazine