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Man Whips Up Cracking Christmas Dinner For 94p A Head

December 21, 2020, 11:00 AM
  • Budget cooking enthusiast Edward Crofts, 27, has created a Christmas dinner recipe for four featuring roast chicken legs and selected trimmings for a wallet-friendly £3.73 – that’s just under 94p per person
  • The no-fuss festive meal takes just 20 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook
  • Says “you don't need to spend hundreds of pounds to eat well over the festive period”

It's the time of year to eat, drink and be merry, but the cost of all that extra Christmas food can quickly mount up.

If you want to keep a firm grip on your spending, take a tip from Edward Crofts, 27, from Palgrave, Suffolk. The budget cooking enthusiast and Founder of Quid Kitchen, which shares inspiration for £1-per-portion recipes, has created a hearty Christmas dinner for just 94p per head. His number crunching meal provides a satisfyingly large portion and takes 20 minutes to prep and an hour to cook. Plus, he says it “tastes delicious” too.

“People expect their Christmas dinner to be a plate piled high so it was important for me to produce a meal that looks like you have a decent amount of food,” Edward told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “It’s quite a large meal, considering the price. The picture accurately represents how much food you would get in a portion.

“I tested it out on friends and family, including my in-laws who loved it. There was minimal food wastage, too, which was impressive.”

His “basic” Christmas dinner for four clocks in at £3.73. Each portion includes a roast chicken leg stuffed with diced onion and cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, red cabbage and three stuffing balls served with gravy.

“I started researching ingredients to work out the best way of putting together the Christmas dinner so that each portion was legitimately less than £1, without having to rely on any extra store cupboard ingredients,” he says.

“I built it around the staples I considered important: meat, potatoes, vegetables, gravy and stuffing. I quickly realised that turkey wasn’t going to be an option, as it’s more expensive than chicken. Next, I began looking at the different cuts and what was the cheapest. The answer was the legs.”

Following that, he had to decide which vegetables would make the cut.

“I looked into various vegetables to add, such as sprouts, but at the time they were a bit more expensive than the other veg I selected,” he says. “The closer you get to Christmas, however, the prices can get crazy low so if you are making this meal during Christmas week, you may be able to get more veg for your money.”

His final shopping list is as follows: 1kg of chicken legs, £1.69; 1kg carrots, 41p; 1kg mini roasting potatoes, 19p; cranberry sauce (200ml), 45p; an onion, 8p; chicken casserole seasoning mix (for the gravy), 17p; red cabbage (800g), 45p; and sage and onion stuffing mix (170g), 29p.

“I got everything in Aldi, bar the onion, but that’s only because I forgot it so popped to Asda to pick it up,” he adds.

His quick and easy recipe means you won’t be slaving over a hot oven all day either.

“Christmas dinner can be stressful to make but mine is very easy,” he says. “It all goes into the oven at a similar time and there’s no faffing around. All you need to do is prep the chicken by removing the thighbones, and stuff it with the diced onion with the cranberry sauce.”

Some clever cooking hacks helped Edward to stick to his goal.

“I worked out that the cheapest way to make the gravy was from a sachet of chicken casserole seasoning mix,” he reveals. “Traditional granules would have yielded a lot more gravy but they were more expensive as they came in larger packets of around 500g.

“To keep it to £1 per head it worked out better to buy a smaller 25g sachet that could be easily split between the four meal potions. I guarantee if you were to do a blind taste test between your usual gravy and my sachet mix gravy, you would not taste the difference.”

If you're yet to pick up your Christmas food, Edward has some advice for staying on track.

“Work out the key meals you are going to have between Christmas and the New Year and go into the supermarket with a plan,” he says. “It sounds dull but it really does help to stop you from going off-piste.

“It’s Christmas so treat yourself, but don't feel the pressure to buy lots of extra food and drink,” he adds. “You don't need to spend hundreds of pounds to eat well over the festive period. Appreciate the people you are with and don't feel the pressure to overspend on stuff you don’t need.”

Having started Quid Kitchen in March, Edward has lots of tips and tricks for creating healthy, tasty, and varied recipes on a budget.

“When the pandemic hit I was travelling, so I hurried home. I was unemployed, having taken time out to travel, and a lot of places were making people redundant so I decided to move back in with my parents until I got back on my feet.”

It gave him the time he needed to think about his next step.

“I came up with a concept to start a recipe and meal plan website to share ideas for making good quality meals on a budget,” he says. “Budget cooking is nothing new, but I found that many relied on taking smaller portions of larger ingredients you are expected to have hanging around in the store cupboard.

“I wanted to create recipes that cost exactly what I say they do – with no hidden ingredients to be added. Each of my recipes cost less than £1 to make, and I also compile five and seven-day meal plans to follow.

“When I speak to people about recipes and costing often I’m met with quite a lot of skepticism trying to convince people that you can cook hearty meals for less than £1. But when you show the mathematics behind it and the ingredients that go into each meal, it's easy to see how it can be done.”

When it comes to supermarket shopping, Edward says the best value option depends on the individual.

“There’s no hack about which supermarket to go to for the cheapest ingredients,” he says. “People can argue all day long about what supermarket is best for a budget food shop but it depends on what you are buying.

“You need to look at where you can get your favourites and staples for less and go from there. I wouldn’t encourage people to drive around from shop to shop, or go miles out of their way.

“For Quid Kitchen, I mostly use prices from Asda, as it's the most convenient supermarket for me. I never use promotional prices in my recipes, such as the 19p spuds for Christmas, as I want people to be able to use the recipes at any time. Of course, if you know what you are going to eat and go into a shop with that list of ingredients, you stand a much higher chance of staying on budget.”

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk comments: “Edward’s Christmas dinner looks absolutely delicious and is sure to impress.

“Many supermarkets lower the price of Christmas dinner staples this week, so you may be lucky enough to pick up some of the ingredients he mentions for less – or even add some into the mix for not much extra.

“You can stay a step ahead by using our Supermarket Comparison tool within the Latest Deals app, which helps you find the cheapest groceries, save money on your shopping and see the best prices at a glance.”

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