A Frugal Family Christmas Dinner

One of my favourite parts of the holiday season is the delicious food that I get to eat when doing the rounds of the various family events that FM and I attend – now with kids in tow.

My preference for holiday meals is pretty straightforward. My favourite dishes are the traditional staples of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, carrots, mashed potatoes with gravy, and a seasonal desert.

Lucky for me, those are available at pretty much every one of the three or four dinners we end up attending each holiday season! And somehow, I never get tired of eating those things and the piles of leftovers that usually come with them.

Though we’ve never hosted a Christmas dinner for our extended family, it’s something I would love to do in the future.

For years, the numbers nerd in me has been curious about the costs of putting together such a meal (usually for 8 adults).

I felt like much of what’s included in the typical holiday meal that I enjoy is actually pretty affordable. But that was really just anecdotal opinion based on what I recalled seeing in the grocery store, not on any documented evidence.

So this week, I did some digging to prepare myself for what I’m up against when FM and I finally take our turn at providing the meal.

The results really aren’t all that bad.

Based on the information in this week’s grocery store flyers, I’ve concluded that by using a little price-matching effort and ingenuity, I could comfortably create my favourite holiday meal for myself and seven others for just $29.48!

That works out to only $3.69 per person, and doesn’t account for the fact that I’d likely end up with leftovers for at least a couple of meals.

For those interested in knowing how it can be accomplished at such a relatively low cost, here’s a series of recipes I’d follow (loosely/with modifications), along with the shopping list of ingredients to pull them off.

Dish Ingredients Price
Turkey stuffed with lemon, onions, and rosemary 1 6 kg. (13 lb.) Turkey $15 (Wal-Mart)
1 lemon $0.99 (Zehrs)
2 medium onions $0.30 ($1.47 for a 3 lb. bag of 10 onions at Wal-Mart)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary $0.60 ($1.97 for a package of 10 at No Frills)
Mashed Potatoes 12 medium potatoes $0.60 ($1.97 for a 10 lb. bag of ~40 potatoes at No Frills)
2 tablespoons (~30g) cream cheese $0.30 ($2.47 for a 250 g package at Wal-Mart)
2 tablespoons (~30g) margarine $0.06 ($0.94 for a 454 g package at Wal-Mart)
1/2 cup (0.12 L) of milk $0.18 ($5.99 for 4L at Wal-Mart)
Steamed Carrots 3 pounds $1.47 (Wal-Mart)
Stuffing 2 boxes $1.74 ($0.87 per box at Wal-Mart)
Gravy 2 packets $1.98 ($0.99 at Fresh Co., price matched at Wal-Mart)
Cranberry Sauce 1 can $1.27 (Wal-Mart)
Candy Cane Ice Cream 1 carton $4.99 (No Frills)

TOTAL GROCERY BILL  

$42.23

TOTAL MEAL COST  

$29.48

PER PERSON MEAL COST  

$3.69

And there you have it: a nice, big, delicious meal for eight people for just $3.69 a head! Aside form the turkey and the Candy Cane Ice Cream for desert (a childhood favourite that has been a must-have on my Christmas food list for decades), everything else is incredibly cheap. Those two items alone account for more than half of the meal cost, but even then, they’re not breaking the bank.

Writing this article and creating the menu above has me even more excited to one day host a big holiday meal for our family. In fact, it’s already led to discussions with FM about when we might be doing just that!

What’s your favourite holiday meal? How do you keep costs in line when you’re doing the cooking? Let me know by getting in touch by leaving a comment, emailing me at frugalfatherblog@gmail.com, or connecting on social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This will be my last post before Christmas, so I want to wish you and yours a very happy holiday as well. I hope that it’s filled with great people, good times, and delicious food and drink!

Until next week, thanks for reading!

Frugal Father

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