Many of us will be doing a last-minute dash to the shops to stock up on food supplies to deliver magnificent dishes on Christmas Day. Whether it's picking up pre-ordered meat and seafood or grabbing fresh fruit and vegetables it's easy to get carried away and overspend. So we've asked the experts how to best manage your grocery bill for whipping up a Christmas feast.
If you're playing host on Christmas Day work out who's on your guest list so you can budget accordingly. Chef Paul Turner from Lover restaurant says this keeps your spending in check.
"If you work out how many people you are cooking for and then work out a budget, you can work backwards from there," he says.
JBS Financial Strategists Jenny Brown says it's important to "have a list to make sure you are specifically shopping for food that you need. The more we buy, we waste," she says.
MEAT AND SEAFOOD
Turner says it may cost less to serve up seafood on Christmas Day.
"A lot of meat prices in the last couple of weeks have gone through the roof but if you're looking at seafood it's come down," he says. This includes lobsters which have been selling for $20 each. "I'm expecting this year to be a seafood heavy menu with a lot of vegetables that will keep costs down."
DON'T WASTE FOOD
Being clever with the food you have will also save money. Turner says it's about "using the whole animal".
"You might have a roast chicken and the bones might get thrown out but you could use them as a broth for the next day," he says.
Woolworths' director of buying Paul Harker says buy the right size of food required, for instance cuts of meat.
"We have a wide range of leg hams on offer including smaller quarter and half legs and pre-glazed boneless varieties which are better suited to smaller gatherings," he says. "A bit of leftover ham on Boxing Day is a great tradition but not everyone wants to eat it for the rest of the week."
MAKING YOUR OWN DISHES
Brown says you can cut costs by making your own food.
"Make your own stuff from scratch such as dips," she says. "If you have to make an antipasto platter you don't have to buy the most expensive things, you can get good deals.
"Take advantage of specials that are coming up and if you're also having celebrations on Boxing Day you could have a barbecue rather than another full-on Christmas dinner."
She also suggests urging guests to bring a dish to ease the financial burden on the host.
"Divvy it up so everyone brings something for the table, split up the salads and meats so you're not doing everything," Brown says.
BUY IN-SEASON PRODUCE
Make sure you buy goods that are in season - when there's plenty of supply it's likely prices will be cheaper.
"This time of year sees beautiful fresh Aussie produce such as mangoes, grapes, cherries, berries at their freshest," Turner says.
"Products in season don't just taste better, but they also offer big savings over the course of the year."
Turner says seafood could be much cheaper at this time of year.
"Stone fruits and seafood have definitely come down in price with everything going on in the global market," he says.
Use these measurements to work out if you are getting good value for money, says Coles' head of pricing and value Tim Lane.
"Looking at the unit pricing of products is critical to ensuring you're saving money," he says.
This is clearly labelled underneath the items in supermarkets and shows the price per unit of measure which helps consumers make easy comparisons to save.
CLICK AND COLLECT
For time-poor shoppers it can sometimes be easier to order items and have them packaged up ready to be collected. Lane says click and collect services are free and can help take out the stress of doing shopping yourself.
"We encourage customers looking for the convenience of shopping online but who don't want to pay delivery fees to try the click and collect service which is free and there are extended hours available for collection over Christmas," he says.
Originally published as Simple ways to cut your Christmas foods costs