Yule save: Cooking a delicious Christmas dinner for your student house on the cheap

Want to celebrate with your flatmates before you all head off home? Here are a few simple tips to keep the costs of your Christmas dinner down

The Coca-Cola adverts have begun, you can’t move for shoppers in the high street and your overdraft is starting to show: it must be Christmas time. When you lived at home this was your favourite time of year, but now you have to pay for everything yourself, you may be feeling a little differently about things. But don’t be alarmed, there’s one thing that can still be great even on a tight budget: Christmas dinner.

The meat

Turkey is usually traditional, but chicken at this time of year tends to be a lot cheaper. Either individual chicken breasts or a small chicken can be purchased from a local butcher for a slightly lower price than you’d get at a supermarket. By going to a butcher you can also ask them about cooking times if you’re not sure. If you go for the whole chicken approach, you’ll want to add some extra flavours but buying jars of spices just for one meal isn’t very cost effective. To solve this, generously sprinkle some salt and pepper onto the chicken, add more butter (butter is your friend) and put half a lemon inside the chicken. This should make the meat a bit more flavoursome.  
Don’t underestimate falafel as your vegetarian alternative. It’s cheap and delicious, especially if covered in gravy.

Vegetables

Okay yes, we all know this is the worst part of the dinner, but they’ve got to be there all the same. Even in the cheapest supermarkets vegetables can be more expensive than you think they’d be, so it’s better to look elsewhere. Every town has a market of some sort, be it small or large, so head over there to get your vegetables. Most markets do a bucket-of-veg-for-a-pound type deal, so have a look around and sniff out the cheapest deals you can get.

Roast potatoes

Technically potatoes should be in the previous section, but their greatness warrants extra attention. Making delicious roast potatoes is simple and cheap, all you need is some Maris Pipers and a packet of butter. Boil the chopped potatoes until they’re just starting to get soft, add in some chopped up butter (the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned) and pop them in the oven at 180° until they are golden brown. Simple, delicious and cheap.

The other stuff: gravy, Yorkshire pud, stuffing - and those pigs in blankets

For the stuffing, Yorkshire puddings and gravy the supermarket probably is the best place to go, but for cheaper gravy, add the juices from the chicken and vegetables to your supermarket mixture. You could make your own Yorkshire puddings but hey, this is just a student meal, let’s not go crazy.

Pigs in blankets are the cherry on the to, but they can be a little expensive, but you can even cut costs here. It’s far cheaper to buy a packet of sausages and bacon and roll them yourself than buy the ready-made ones. Just don’t forget to prick the sausages, as you don’t want them exploding in the oven!

Christmas dinner between friends can be as simple and cheap as you like. And if your whole house mucks in - it won't cost you more than around a fiver each.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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