Christmas. The time of year when everyone comes together. A time for students to meet up with friend’s they haven’t seen all semester because of different timetables, to drink as much as humanly possible in a month, and a time to eat as much food as they can afford to put on paper plates.
Yes, the holidays are an expensive time for anyone but especially the low-income students, but fear not, here is the low budget guide to Christmas dinner.
First things first, shopping on the day of the meal is a huge no-no as it will not give enough time to prepare vegetables and defrost meat. Preparation is the key t0 having a delicious meal and not stressing on the day.
Forget about Tesco, SuperValu and Dunnes; Aldi is where it’s at. The low prices can guarantee saving those extra few bucks to spend in the pub on some other night.
A quick and simple starter is delicious, bacon wrapped asparagus. The only preparation involved in these is wrapping the asparagus in streaky bacon, and then whacking them under the grill for 5 minutes until the bacon is nice and crispy.
Roasting vegetables is easy, although most ovens in student households can be unpredictable at the best of times. The day before the dinner cut the tops and bottoms off, and peel a bag of carrots and a bag of parsnips then throw them into a bowl of water, ready to use the following day.
Let’s be honest here, students don’t have the time nor the effort to prepare and cook a whole roast turkey. A boned and rolled roast turkey can feed up to 10 people, although its recommended about eight. It also comes stuffed already and will save the hassle and cost of making extra stuffing. The directions are on the packet so read them before starting. Leave the turkey out the night before to defrost thoroughly.
To save time, don’t be afraid to buy pre-made roast potatoes. They’re handy to cook and require no preparation. All there is to do is place them in a roasting tray, bang them into the oven and leave them there to crisp up until they’re delicious and golden. Sprinkle over some salt and finally you have roast spuds.
When it’s time cook the vegetables, dry them thoroughly with a tea towel and put them in a roasting tray. Cover them in a generous helping of olive oil, melted butter and salt, making sure that everything is covered. Throw over 4-5 smashed cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of rosemary and place them in the oven at the same time as the roast potatoes.
The last thing and possibly the best thing about the dinner has got to be the gravy. It’s like the icing on top of a cake and Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be the same without it. There’s nothing wrong about someone on time constraints and minimal cooking experience using powdered gravy. It’s got to be Bisto, the biggest brand that’ll give the best taste with the least effort.
Finally, for dessert, Aldi’s festive chocolate wreath from its specially selected range will suffice nicely, and round up the festive celebration at the more than likely overpacked table. Its packed full of seasonal flavours like honeycomb, candied orange peel, cranberries and almonds.
- Turkey – €20
- Asparagus – €1.30
- Streaky bacon – €1
- Carrots – €1
- Garlic – €0.60
- Bag of pre-maid roast potatoes – €0.70
- Rosemary – €1
- Parsnips – €1
- Butter – €2.20
- Bisto – €2.50
- Olive Oil – €3.30
- Festive Wreath – €13
Overall all price of €47.60 or €5.95 p/p
Image credit: Sonja Tutty