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How much more expensive will Christmas dinner be this year due to cost of living crisis?

Last year, we challenged chefs BOSH! to cook us up a £20 Christmas dinner. How much more expensive will it be this year?

Christmas dinner

Illustration: Matt Hollings

Food prices have soared in the cost of living crisis – and that means we could be looking at a pretty hefty bill for Christmas dinner for the whole family.

Last year, we challenged chefs BOSH! to cook up a £20 Christmas dinner for us, and they took it in their stride. Together we trawled through supermarkets to find the cheapest ingredients and they created a showstopper. 

They served a sausage stuffing traybake with lots of roasted carrots, parsnips, potatoes, cabbage and sprouts, and a hearty serving of gravy. It was certifiably delicious and would feed an entire family of eight to 10 people (find the recipe here, if you fancy).

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But it’s no secret that food prices have soared this year. Food inflation was up by more than 10% in October compared to the previous year (more than double the general rate of inflation).  

It will have an especially big impact at this time of year when people indulge a lot more in food and drink. So we decided to compare last year’s shopping list for our Christmas dinner with today’s prices.

By our calculations, that same BOSH! £20 festive spread will now cost you more than £24, using exactly the same ingredients from the same shops – which was wherever we could find them cheapest.  

An extra £4 might not sound like a huge increase, and to feed a family of 10 for £24 on Christmas day is still pretty great. But it’s up by more than 18% on last year, which is much higher than the rate of inflation.  

The biggest increase is in olive oil, which is up by 80p and so it’s a key driver of our more expensive Christmas dinner. It’s a 42% increase on the previous year. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, olive oil has increased by more than 52% on average in comparison to November last year. That’s partly because of droughts and heatwaves which led to poor harvests. 

You could substitute olive oil with a cheaper alternative like vegetable oil, which doesn’t have the same flavour and won’t make your potatoes as crispy, but it will do the job and should save you about 90p.  

Another reason grocery prices have shot up this year is because of the continuing war in Ukraine. Europe has had to stop relying on Russian gas, meaning the cost of energy to produce and transport food is much higher.  

And then we’ve got Brexit. Leaving the EU has taken its toll on the food supply chain, with an end to freedom of movement meaning it’s much harder for European workers to take roles in the UK food industry.  

All this is having a big impact on people in the UK, particularly the poorest. Around three million adults reported not eating for a whole day in June because they couldn’t afford food, according to recent research from the Food Foundation. 

Inflation is higher for the poorest households, because the costs of essentials are rising at higher rates. The Resolution Foundation has found that the poorest families spend about 14% of their household income on food, while it’s just 9% for those in the highest-income households.  

With so many people struggling, food banks are braced for their worst winter yet and donations aren’t keeping up with demand.

That’s why The Big Issue has gathered the best expertise to help you have a merry Christmas. It is still possible to celebrate the festive season on as tight a budget as possible. We’ve asked top chefs for their budget recipes and tips to make this Christmas as special as ever.

Recipes for Christmas dinner on a budget

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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