With the rising cost of living, this year’s festive season will involve a lot more budgeting for some households than previous.
Rising inflation has seen the cost of many goods and services increase steeply in 2022, with the ONS reporting significant rises in the prices of domestic energy and food and non-alcoholic beverage prices in October.
Fortunately, there are some money-saving strategies that you can use to help balance out the cost of this year’s festivities.
Food inevitably ends up being a considerable expense around Christmas, from the dinner itself to surviving party season on a budget.
Some families are opting to freeze food this year in order to help their budgets go further.
If you’re considering this, here is everything you need to know.
What foods should you freeze now for Christmas?
If you’re looking to spread the cost of Christmas this year, some money-saving experts have given Metro.co.uk some helpful advice on what to freeze now in anticipation of the big day.
Consumer expert Rebecca Bebbington from NetVoucherCodes.co.uk said: ‘Christmas has always been an expensive time and this year a lot of families will be feeling the pinch more than usual due to the cost of living crisis.
‘The Christmas dinner shop can be an expensive one which is why we’re encouraging people to spread the costs by buying certain foods now and freezing them until they’re needed.
‘Meat and veggies are just some of the items you can freeze to help you save money and if you’re worried about storage space, take the items out of their original packaging and pop them into some freezable food bags.’
Freezing food can also help your increase your capacity, ensuring you don’t run out of key ingredients at the worst possible moment.
A terrible bird flu outbreak has caused concerns around the availability of several products like eggs and turkey this year.
If you’re looking to guarantee the availability of meat products, then buying and freezing them in time for Christmas could be a solution.
NetVoucherCodes.co.uk told Metro.co.uk: ‘Before making any big purchases, make sure that the food will still be in date and good to defrost by December 25.’
You can read specific advice on freezing your Christmas turkey here.
Whether you love or hate the most controversial addition to Christmas dinner, if you plan to include them in your meal, now is the time to freeze them.
You can grow them at home if you’re looking to save even more cash, but remember it is always advisable to blanche or roast them before freezing to catch them at their best.
We recommend serving them au gratin-style – with cream, leeks, Gruyère, parmesan and crispy panko bread crumbs.
A much less controversial addition to your Christmas meal is the humble parsnip which will, particularly when paired with a drip of honey, be an excellent addition to your family dinner.
Parsnips are good to freeze for around nine months, meaning you can easily cube them or cut them into chunks and store. As with brussels, blanching beforehand will help keep them at their best.
If the Christmas cheeseboard is something you want to have planned in advance, you can start the process now.
NetVoucherCodes.co.uk say: ‘This can be frozen as a full block, or if you mainly use it grated, you can grate the block and freeze it, meaning you can grab handfuls of cheese as and when you need it.
‘Anything from mozzarella to parmesan can cope with being put in the freezer, but be warned, cottage cheese may react badly.’
For many, milk will be a big staple ingredient of your Christmas catering – from the morning cuppa to the after-dinner coffees and more.
If you’re hosting a big group for Christmas, it’s always advisable to have more milk in the house than you usually would – it’s just one of those things that we often fail to consider in a rush to prep a big meal.
Remember, milk can expand when freezing, so don’t keep it in a particularly tight container. It’s also advisable to make sure it has thoroughly defrosted before use, so give the carton a good shake before pouring.
Whether for mopping up gravy or making a morning round of toast, ensuring you have enough bread in the house on Christmas day is always prudent.
If you’re freezing a loaf of bread, make sure you do it quickly after purchasing to guarantee it is at its best when defrosted (either naturally or via the toaster).
A staple ingredient in breakfasts, baking and more, keeping extra eggs on hand can be a lifesaver at Christmas.
NetVoucherCodes.co.uk say: ‘The shell of eggs can’t be frozen, but everything else can.
‘Crack the eggs into a muffin tray, then place these into the freezer. Once fully frozen they can be transferred into a plastic container, creating even more space.’
While chocolate tends to have quite a long shelf life, if you want to preserve it at its best, consider freezing it.
NetVoucherCodes.co.uk say: ‘Chocolate doesn’t contain much water, meaning it won’t change as much as other items when frozen or defrosted.
‘Put the chocolate in the fridge for a few hours before placing it into the freezer, as this will help bring the temperature down slowly, reducing the risk of the flavour or appearance changing.’
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