Buying and cooking Christmas dinner for a house of 7 seems quite daunting, and this is before we invited girlfriends, boyfriends and everyone else! In total there were 12 of us for dinner, and with everyone contributing £5, the £60 had to cover decorations and food.
As I have mentioned before, I love Aldi, and this is where our shop began. We had a carefully created list, with an estimation of all the prices, so we had some kind of idea about how far our money would stretch- I do love a list!
Normally in Aldi a wheelie basket will suffice, however, due to the big shop ahead, we grabbed a trolley and headed down the first aisle. Food wise we managed to get everything on our list, apart from nut-roast, pudding and pigs in blankets, in Aldi. After looking through a few shops we finally found a nut-roast. I think our challenge wouldn’t have been so hard if either Ellen or myself actually knew what one looked like, or whereabouts we would find it?? Nevertheless, Sainsbury’s came up with the goods.
We got a chocolate log for pudding and the pigs in blankets from Iceland. All the food came to £44.76, which for a big dinner, I don’t think is too bad. This involved, over 2kg of potatoes, 36 Yorkshire puddings, 3 large chickens and mounds of veg. As they’re quite pricy, the pigs in blankets were strictly rationed at 2 per person, but there was plenty of everything else. Even the chicken spread across the 11 meat-eaters, including some boys with very big appetites.
The cooking was slightly more stressful than anticipated, however Ellen and I managed it very well, with dinner coming out only 20 minutes behind schedule. Once again, we had a plan of timings, and got all the veg, potatoes and chicken prepped as soon as we got back. The 3 chickens went in first, after I beautifully dressed them with lemon, rosemary and butter, which made the skin really crispy.
Ellen did the potatoes, firstly par boiling them, and then leaving them to rest before oiling them and roasting. We parboiled the veg too, and prepped everything for the sides.
For our sides we roasted carrots and parsnips, made cauliflower and broccoli cheese, mashed sweet potato and fried bacon lardons with sprouts. Along with the roast potatoes, we had stuffing and gravy too. After everything was stacked onto my plate, I realised I may have been slightly ambitious, however like the valiant warrior I am, I did manage to clear most of the plate.
After seconds, and maybe even thirds, no one was too bothered about pudding. Despite this, the chocolate log was nibbled, alongside copious amounts of wine and beers. It can’t be Christmas without food comas and too much alcohol. We also had a gingerbread house, decorated by Erin and Amy, that even had a personalised number 64 on the front door.
The only issue with cooking for lots of people is all the washing up, however- along with some plastic tuppawear for leftovers- we purchased foil trays, which are perfect for roasting meat and veg. £1 for two from Poundland!!!
After the 3 hours of cooking, I felt very proud of our efforts. Everyone else helped decorate, and clean, and somehow we managed to fit 12 people in our small kitchen. Despite the slightly late food, and the red dye from the napkins staining a few faces, we had such a lovely dinner, and it was a fun farewell before Christmas.
I learnt a few things over the course of this dinner:
1) Shopping in Aldi with a trolley can be challenging
2) I know what a nut roast looks like
3) I appreciate the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth”
4) Brussel sprouts come on big sticks?!
5) Our oven is shit
6) Everyone’s Mums/Dads/Grandparents/Aunties/Uncles/Friends who cook Xmas dinner are very talented and must be very patient!
7) Crackers are VERY expensive
8) Food really does taste good when you have the satisfaction of making it
After the meal, sitting with my Christmas hat on, holding my fluffy pillow from secret Santa, I realised that £5 really isn’t that much to pay for a lovely night.