Christmas Food Shop: How to Save Money

Christmas food shop

Christmas can be a busy time for a lot of us. Between sourcing presents, getting travel plans arranged, sometimes the food shop can be the last thing you sort in a frenzy, just days before the big day. As one of the favourite moments of Christmas day, the lunch /dinner is a show-stopping moment. In this guide, we aim to share some tips on how to save money when doing the Christmas food shop, to make your money go further, and hopefully make the task less stressful overall.

Simple ways to save money on your Christmas Food Shop

It’s so obvious, but creating a detailed list of what you need for the Christmas food shop will go a long way to helping you plan, as well as making sure you reduce any waste by buying more than you need. It’s important to get a gauge of how many people you will be shopping for, and plan accordingly. One idea is to divide these lists between frozen, cupboard goods and fresh, allowing you to source frozen foods earlier in the hopes of getting them on a promotion or discount, and also ensuring you pick up perishables closer to the big day.

Shop early, and often

It can be all too tempting to leave the food shop until the last minute, as there’s already so much on our plates around the festive season. Cupboard goods should have plenty of life before you reach the best before date, so pick up what you can throughout the months leading up to December in the hopes of grabbing a bargain wherever possible. Some of the more popular items may not be in discount over December, or even worse, not available due to their popularity.

Try to avoid convenience or pick-up shops

You know the ones, perfect for a pint of milk or a loaf, but you pay a price for convenience, and these types of stores aren’t the ideal way to food shop, as pricing is somewhat inflated, and selection will always be more restricted compared to bigger stores.

Picking a cheaper alternative

Again, a simple solution, but one that’s regularly overlooked as we really try to provide a special meal over the festive period. The ‘usual’ brand may not represent good value for money, so it’s worth considering whether it is time to switch to a cheaper alternative. Focus on simple family favourites, switching branded goods to more value-orientated brands may make a difference to your pocket more than you might expect.

Consider shopping around for the right prices

Another benefit to not leaving the shopping to the last minute, is that it gives you time to shop around. Asda was rated as the cheapest major supermarket for your festive pick-ups by Which? Magazine last year. It remains to be seen who will be rated the cheapest this year, but by allowing yourself the time to shop around, you can maximise the discount.

Pick fresh, not packaged perishables

Potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts… you may know them as the unavoidable staples in any Christmas meal and they will undoubtedly make up at least part of your Christmas food shop. In any case, choosing fresh over packaged will likely lengthen the shelf life, and lessen the cost. Convenience always comes at a cost. It’s good for us that most of the bigger supermarkets drive down the cost of these items around the festive period to entice you in for your other items along the way.

Which supermarket is the cheapest christmas food shop?

One of the easier ways to save money on your Christmas food shop, is to find the cheapest prices for items you want across different stores. This frugal way of shopping may not be for everyone though, so perhaps you may wish to focus on a single shop, but still feel like you are saving money. The good news is that this is very much possible, the slightly bad news is that we won’t know until December who will take the coveted cheapest (non turkey) crown. 2020 saw ASDA take the throne according to Which? Online, with a 15 item shop coming in at under £40, but; everyone’s idea of essentials will be different, and of course it comes down to your selection and how you apply some of the hints covered in this guide also. 

Example of 2020 Christmas food basket costs:

ASDA £39.26
Morrisons £48.35
TESCO £49.03
Sainsbury's £51.61
Waitrose & Partners £62.09

(based on a 15 item shop, including a medium-sized turkey crown, Brussel sprouts and red cabbage)

Voucher Codes & Loyalty Schemes

Voucher codes are a great way to slash the cost of your shopping. It’s always worth checking before any online shop whether any valid codes can be applied at checkout. Some major supermarkets will normally notify you of any multibuy deals or loyalty discounts as part of the checkout process, too. If these are items that can be stored and you are making a saving over time by doubling up, then it makes sense to.

Maximising voucher discount by using introductory offers

Never shopped at Sainsbury's online? Or Tesco for example? The likely news is you’ll find an attractive discount on a first shop to entice you into their online shopping platform. These can sometimes prove to be very lucrative when used correctly. Delivery costs will of course need to be considered, but with planning and a little foresight, you can pick up your non-perishables well in advance, on the cheapest delivery time slot, and again, maximise the discount, and lower the spend.

Use Loyalty schemes throughout the year

If you are a regular customer of Tesco, you’ll no doubt be very familiar with their Clubcard scheme, giving you points on all purchases which can be used for exclusive discounts, and money back on future shops. It is a simple way to earn yourself some money back which can be used on festive food shops later in the year. Tesco will also give you points on purchases of fuel too, so use your card whenever possible!

Nectar at Sainsburys is another similar point scheme, which is also free to join and will earn you points on purchases, at multiple stores allowing you earn even more just by using your card during regular purchases throughout the year. 

Regular online shopper? Consider a delivery saving scheme

If you’d much prefer doing your shopping online, it may be cost-effective to consider one of the numerous delivery saving schemes the major supermarkets offer, to help you save over a longer-term. Take a look at our Delivery Passes guide which covers the subject in much more detail. 

Christmas wine glass
Source: Picjumbocom / Pexels.

Christmas Shopping FAQs

Where's the cheapest veg?

Most of the major Supermarkets now offer a range of reduced price veg for the Christmas lunch/dinner, in the hopes that eager shoppers will come into stores and spend more. 

In reality, there shouldn't be much advantage in going out of your way to try and save on the veg, as the price difference is minimal, at best. 

Save your energy, and your petrol, and shop local. Your local greengrocer may also have some nice offers around the festive season. 

Where's the cheapest turkey?

Is it rude to ask guests to bring food?

What's the best use of leftovers?