10 ways to cut your Christmas food bill

That last big food shop before Christmas will undoubtedly be the biggest of the year as you strive to ensure that you've got enough to feed the hoards over the festive period.

This year the chances are you'll be watching what you spend, but the good news is that if you follow Moneywise's tips, saving cash doesn't have to mean cutting back.

1. The easiest way to save at the supermarket is good old fashioned menu planning. Dig out your diary and wherever possible plan out what you'll be eating and how many you'll have to feed over the Christmas period.

Rather than filling your trolley with piles of veg and random cuts of meat only buy the ingredients for the meals you'll be cooking.

2. Next, write a list. It sounds obvious but far too many of us fail to do it. Make sure you have all the food you'll need for your menu plan plus any extras for quick breakfasts and easy lunches. \

With a list your not only less likely to forget things, but perhaps most importantly, you won't splash out on food you won't need.

3. Shopping online makes it easier to stick to your list but unfortunately all the prime delivery slots for the days before Christmas were booked weeks ago.

However you can still go online to compare prices and find the cheapest supermarket for your particular trolley at mysupermarket.co.uk.

4. If you always eat organic meat you won't want to downgrade to a frozen battery bird, however you can cut the cost - and the waste - of your Christmas dinner by buying the right size turkey. A large 5kg turkey will serve 8-11, a medium 3.5kg bird will serve 4-7 while a more modest 1.5kg turkey crown will be perfect smaller parties of up to four people.

5. Unexpected guests provide the perfect excuse to overload your fridge and freezer but don't use it as an excuse to spend more. Keep a couple of standby meals in the freezer for emergencies but nothing more. After all, the shops will only shut for two days.

6. Be realistic. Do you really need to buy numerous tins of Roses or Quality Street, case loads of chocolate biscuits and vats of fruit and nuts? There will invariably be plenty of sweet treats under the tree and you'll come to resent the overload when they're still hanging around well into the new year.

7. Beware the supermarket tricks. By all means snap up a half-price bottle of champagne but remember these loss-leaders are priced that way to get you through the door. Get what you came for then head for the door before you're tempted to buy more things you don't need.

8. Shop alone - bring kids or hungry partners with you at your peril. They'll be filling the trolley while you're not looking and at Christmas, the pester power will be even harder to resist.

9. If you're playing host to the masses this year don't feel embarrassed about asking people to contribute food and drink. Most people will be more than happy to stump up a Christmas pud, cheese board, or bottle of red in return for their lunch.

10. Supermarkets cash in on our need for convenience so don't plump for pricey ready prepared vegetables: there will always be at least one volunteer to peel the spuds and carrots. It also takes no time to make your own pigs in blankets and mince pies.

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