Hosting Christmas dinner can be stressful, and buying enough food to feed the whole family can make quite a dent on your bank balance – and your weight loss plans. Read our tips for taking the stress out of food shopping this Christmas without making a dent in your bank balance – or your weight loss plans.
1) Make a list and set a budget
Before shopping, write down all the ingredients you need. Then, to avoid doubling up and wasting food, go through your cupboards to check if you already have any of these ingredients. Be hard on yourself! Set a budget and stick to it. No matter how appealing the fresh lobster looks, if it’s not in the budget or on your list, then it doesn’t go in the trolley. This will also help you avoid sneaking in calorific treats that will tempt you away from your weight loss goals.
2) Beware the supermarket markdowns
By all means snap up a half-price turkey but remember these items are priced that way for a reason. Check the items carefully to make sure you can use them up by their sell-by date. Also, remember that just because they’re cheap, it doesn’t mean you need two of them. Get what you came for, then head for the door before you’re tempted to buy more things you don’t need.
3) Shop online
You could skip the supermarket all together and do your shop online. Most supermarkets offer an online delivery service these days, which will help you stick to your list and avoid over-spending on things you don’t need. However, if the prime delivery slots for the days before Christmas are fully booked, make sure you go online to compare prices and find the cheapest supermarket for your particular trolley at mysupermarket.co.uk.
4) Buy the right size turkey
Turkeys can be very expensive, especially if you have a big family to feed. To avoid over-spending or wasting meat, make sure you buy 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 for smaller parties of up to four people.
5) Don’t shop hungry
This is a big no no! Shopping on an empty stomach increases your chances of impulse purchases. Always eat before you go to avoid stacking your trolley with unhealthy buys.
6) Use your coupons
They could save you more than you think. Before paying, make sure you show your coupons so the cashier can put the code in for your discount. Check out MoneySavingExpert.co.uk for a variety of different coupons.
7) Avoid fancy prepared food
Ready-peeled vegetables and ready-rolled stuffing balls may be convenient, but the price just isn’t worth it. There will always be at least one volunteer to help you peel the spuds and carrots. Also, if you’re on LighterLife Management, buying things from scratch means that you can control the exact ingredients – most prepared foods have some kind of oil or seasoning on them which isn’t included in the plan. By preparing all the ingredients yourself, you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
8) Leave the kids at home
If possible, shop alone. Bringing hungry kids or partners with you can really derail your plans – chance are, they’ll be filling the trolley while you’re not looking, and it’s always harder to say no at Christmas.
9) Always check the sell-by date
Don’t buy in bulk unless you know you’ll use it all. If you do, buy things that you can freeze so it doesn’t go to waste. Don’t just grab the first yogurt or cheese you see – check the date to ensure you get the freshest product that will last longer. This is especially important at Christmas when you’re likely to be at home and away from the shops for a few days.
10) Freeze it!
However carefully you shop, there are usually leftovers at Christmas time. Instead of forcing food down your neck or throwing it away, buy some handy freezer bags and Tupperware, and pop them in the freezer. Fruit and veg can be frozen for 8-12 months, meat will last 6-9 months, and even butter and cheese can freeze for 3-4 months. This helpful guide will offer you everything you need to know about freezing.