Oh crumbs! Are you a last-minute Christmas food shopper?
Caitriona Redmond has some advice for those who haven't done the big food shop - don't panic, there are bargains to be had
Christmas food is such an integral part of an Irish Christmas that people often place just as much importance on the food they eat, as the gifts they give and receive. Some canny shoppers will have placed their orders for festive goods way back in September, or even earlier! Stir-it-up Sunday is still celebrated in many households and if you participated this year, you likely have a beautiful homemade Christmas cake and/or pudding set to one side for next week.
What if you're not that organised though, and want to pick up your Christmas food at the last minute? The good news is that there are still savings and bargains to be had, but only if you do a little bit of research in advance.
Save 20% this week
Firstly, "Shop&Save" is continuing in Dunnes Stores nationwide. If you've not heard of it, you can get back 20% of your grocery shopping bill as a voucher for your next shop in Dunnes Stores. Next, both Aldi and Lidl had €10 vouchers (with a minimum spend of €50) in last weekend's newspapers and we hear that there will be vouchers this weekend too. Finally, all of the aforementioned discounts are accepted as "competitors vouchers" by Tesco, leaving you with plenty of money-saving options when doing your supermarket shop over the week leading up to Christmas. The trick to saving the maximum amount of money is to stop the checkout belt once your tally reaches €50, pay with a voucher, and then move on to the next section of your shop.
If you're just not that into baking and would rather pick up some mince pies with a long expiration date so that they store well, then Dealz have Mr Kipling Festiva Bakes (mince pies and more) priced 4-for-3 at the moment. The majority of products in Dealz cost €1.49 each so that's 4 packets of mince pies for just €4.47. The Victoria Biscuit Selection, and Patersons Shortbread Fingers will be on offer on the same 4-for-3 deal at the same price. There are oodles more food bargains in store with plenty of classic Christmas foods to be picked up like custard, selection boxes, crisps, cereal and more. It's well worth the journey to pick up the savings. Visit www.dealz.ie to find out more information on the ranges on offer.
Luxury Christmas dinner for lazy cooks
SuperValu have off-the-shelf 2kg unsmoked ham fillets for €8, and a 1.1kg butter basted turkey joint for €10, which would bring the cost of serving the classic Christmas meats to 10-15 people to €18. That's certainly feeding a gang on a budget. To save more time in the kitchen on Christmas Day, and still wow your guests, you might like to serve up some rainbow carrots in a honey and orange glaze. SuperValu have certainly improved the quality and range of food they offer over the past number of years and this year they have some fantastic last minute trays for time hungry cooks. For more information on the ranges on offer visit www.supervalu.ie or see in stores nationwide.
Tesco has the most wonderful finest "Finest Bisol Prosecco" priced at €17.99. It's an award winning sparkling drink that's the perfect accompaniment to smoked salmon or just to enjoy on its own. For an extremely decadant dessert drink why not try their "Finest Salted Caramel Liqueur", costing €15 for 75cl the salty sweet taste will pair very well with your pudding. For more information see www.tesco.ie or visit supermarkets nationwide.
Corner shop puddings
While Centra may have a reputation for being the local corner shop, it might be just the thing for last minute puddings and desserts on a budget. The biggest splurge you can make is €7 for a three-tier black forest gateaux, and a chocolate fudge yule log costs just €3. The entire preprepared range of sides for the Christmas dinner table are priced at €2.50 and these include spiced cabbage, potato gratin, and brussels sprouts. For more information go to www.centra.ie or see in-store for details.
Ranging in price from €1.99-€4.99 Aldi have plenty of party platters to please your guests. Be it the specially selected cocktail sausages wrapped in streaky bacon (€2.99), specially selected doughballs with cheesey centres (€1.99), or the specially selected 6 dessert shots for €4.99, you're sure to find plenty of festive options and nibbles. See Aldi online for further information: www.aldi.ie.
Once a year splurge
Looking to bring a smile at the dinner table? The Penguin Party madeira cake is shaped like an igloo with a surprise penguin inside. It's sure to capture the imagination, however it does cost €30. Finally if you really want to wow your guests then why not get a Shooting Star Christmas Pudding from Marks & Spencer? Apparently if you poor the accompanying brandy sauce over the pudding, the Christmas star will appear. For something so special, it's a surprisingly affordable €21. www.marksandspencer.ie