Downshift your Christmas dinner and feed six people for £15 … with all the trimmings

Don't go overboard on Christmas food shopping

Don't go overboard on Christmas food shopping

It’s easy to get carried away with a festive food shop. Christmas is, after all, an indulgent time of year. But with a bit of planning it’s still possible to cut costs. Here I reveal how much you save if you shop around, ‘downshift’ on branded items – and avoid stocking up for a zombie apocalypse. 

1. Compare the cost of your shop online

There are only a few sleeps until Santa makes his way down the chimney, and if you’ve left your shop to the last minute then it’s likely you’ve missed your chance to order an online delivery. But you can still benefit from comparing prices online before you head out.

Below I’ve worked out the cost of feeding six people turkey and all the traditional trimmings, comparing prices at eight supermarkets using the grocery comparison website First, a couple of disclaimers:

  • In the table below, I’ve looked at branded goods, while in the table further down I’ve looked at own-brand products. However in both tables with the veg I’ve just considered each supermarket’s standard offering.

  • These are the supermarkets’ official prices, but you can sometimes get even find even more of a bargain if you go towards a store’s closing time, when the yellow ‘reduced’ stickers come out. The risk then, of course, is that they may have sold out of what you’re after.

Where to get the cheapest (branded) Christmas food items – to feed six

Item Cheapest supermarket Total price
Bernard Matthews Golden Norfolk frozen turkey large 4-5.4kg Farm Foods £10.95
Cowbelle brandy butter with Courvoisier VS Cognac (200g) Aldi £1.49
Brussels sprouts 750g Aldi 49p
Carrots 1.5kg Aldi 49p
Colman’s cranberry sauce (265g) Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s & Tesco £1.00
Bisto Favourite gravy granules (170g) Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco & Waitrose £1.00
Mr Kipling Exceedingly Merry mince pies Sainsbury’s & Tesco £1.00
Parsnips (500g) Aldi & Tesco 49p
Potatoes (2.5kg) Tesco 49p
Paxo sage & onion stuffing (85g) Morrisons 59p
Source: Prices correct as of 22 Dec 2014.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you go around the houses and actually traipse around all eight supermarkets – that would be silly. But it’s easy to see how shopping around could save.

In practice, the best thing to do is probably to compare prices and then head to the supermarket with the total cheapest overall basket. It’s especially worthwhile comparing the prices of big-ticket items such as washing powder, toilet roll or (more apt at this time of year) champagne.

(By the way, I’m assuming at this point you’ve already got your turkey sorted – but if not, it’s worth looking at my separate in-depth blog post on How to buy the cheapest Christmas turkey.)

2. Scrimp on your sprouts – take the Downshift Challenge

Have you ever taken the Downshift Challenge? This is when you swap branded items for supermarket own-brand items. It can cost considerably less – and it’s not always true that the quality will suffer.

It’s worth noting that for one ITV programme a few Christmases ago, Martin held a blind taste test party for nurses at a hospital. An amazing 73% preferred an own-brand turkey compared to the most expensive brand.

Where to get the cheapest (own-brand) Christmas food items – to feed six

In the first comparison I selected branded goods, but in this one I’ve selected the cheapest products possible by switching down to own-brand items. Again, the idea is to get enough food to feed at least six people.

Item Cheapest supermarket Total price
Whole turkey (frozen) 2.8kg – 4kg Lidl £9.99
Cowbelle brandy butter with Courvoisier VS Cognac (200g) Aldi £1.49
Brussels sprouts 750g Aldi 49p
Carrots 1.5kg Aldi 49p
Tesco Everyday Value cranberry sauce (185g) Tesco 50p
Morrisons’ Savers gravy granules (200g) Morrisons 20p
Everyday Essentials mince pies Tesco 50p
Parsnips (500g) Aldi & Tesco 49p
Potatoes (2.5kg) Tesco 49p
Tesco Everyday Value Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix (85g) Tesco 15p
Source: Prices correct as of 22 Dec 2014.

Here the savings you can make when downshifting become apparent. While the cost of the veg remains unchanged (we were already looking at supermarkets’ standard prices) everything else is cheaper.

For example, Tesco Everyday Value cranberry sauce (185g) costs just 50p, half the price of the Colman’s cranberry sauce.

If gravy is where you’re willing to scrimp, then for just a fifth of the price of the Bisto’s Favourite gravy granules (170g) you can get Morrisons’ Savers gravy granules (200g) for an incredible 20p. Tesco’s Everyday Value sage and onion stuffing mix is just 15p – 44p less than Paxo’s alternative.

All in, it’s possible to get the full Christmas dinner and trimmings for six for just £14.79 – around £2.47 a head. And of course, you won’t use up all of every item either, so there’ll be some leftovers.

You can read taste test reviews of own-brand items on, or take the challenge yourself with our Downshift Tool.

3. Track previous prices to see if a bargain’s really a bargain

MySupermarket isn’t just good for comparing current prices – it also has a nifty tool which allows you to compare the historical price of an item across supermarkets.

For example, you might fancy a bottle of premium bubbly to pop at the dinner table this Christmas. One 750ml bottle of Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Non Vintage champagne will set you back £24.99 in Tesco at the moment, but as you can see from the image below that’s actually a bit of a bargain – some 19% cheaper than the average price.

Check out historical prices
Historical price of 750ml bottle Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Non Vintage champagne


You can find this graph by selecting any product in your basket. It’s probably not worth doing for your sprouts and greens but it might be worthwhile for more expensive items, like alcohol, toiletries and cleaning products – especially if you favour a particular brand.

4. And finally… don’t panic buy

As you head out of the house on your way supermarket, there’s just one warning I want you to heed (though there’s a full set of tips and tricks in our Cheap Supermarket Shopping guide.)

Now, I don’t know what happens in your family home, but as Christmas approaches my parents’ kitchen starts looking like it’s preparing for the onslaught of a zombie apocalypse.

There are already four boxes of mince pies, six Christmas puddings and two tins of Roses… by the big day comes around there’ll be enough to feed an army, and definitely plenty to keep our small family of four happy.

So the key message here is that the world is not going to end. Don’t panic buy. It’s easy to go wild in the supermarket aisles when you’re doing a food shop for Christmas, but it’s important to stick to your guns and avoid overspending.

Of course, you may choose to avoid all the info above, but I’d love to hear what your Christmas food shopping tips are and if you will be downshifting this Christmas. Please let me know your opinions in the discussion below or in the forum.