Ultimate Budget Christmas Dinner

Odds And Sods Gravy, from 11p

To serve 4, from 11p each. For the full shopping list, see here.

3 chicken or vegetable stock cubes, 10p (39p/12, Asda)

2 large onions, 12p (60p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda)

2 tbsp or 35g cranberry sauce, 9p (49p/200g, Tesco)

2 tbsp or 30g flour, 1p (45p/1.5kg, Stockwell at Tesco)

3 tbsp or 40g soft spread, 9p (55p/250g, Best For Baking at Asda)

a pinch of mixed dried herbs (30p/18g at Asda)

This may be controversial but it really does work, and it’s super easy, so trust me, even if it feels a bit wrong!

First peel your onions, quarter them, and pop them in a small powerful blender, along with all the other ingredients and 300ml cold water. Blend until completely smooth.

Pour into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook slowly and gently for around 40 minutes, stirring every now and then. If you have a small slow cooker this is perfect to put in on Christmas Eve on Low and wake up Christmas morning to the smell of gravy wafting through the house! Thin to your desired consistency with extra water – the water from cooking the roast potatoes is ideal as it’s starchy and warm and salty, and this way it doesn’t go to waste!

You can let this cool and microwave it when you need it, or heat it through on the hob to serve, but it does thicken as it cools so if you plan to do that, make it a bit thinner than you’d like to serve it. I have an alcohol-free house but if you have some cheap red or white wine or even cider kicking about, a splash or two in this gravy would be delicious!

You can also add the fat that seeps out from cooking your pigs in blankets, and the juices from your chicken or turkey roast, to really give it a rich and succulent flavour. If you’re planning to do this, maybe dial the soft buttery spread down a bit – else you might not have room for pudding!

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

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Filed under: Ultimate Budget Christmas Dinner


Jack Monroe is an award winning food writer and bestselling author. Books include A Girl Called Jack, A Year In 120 Recipes and Cooking On A Bootstrap. She has won the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink award (ironically), the Observer Food Monthly Best Food Blog, Marie Claire 'Woman At The Top', Red Magazine's 'Red Hot Women', the YMCA Courage & Inspiration Award, the Woman Of The Year Entrepreneur award, the Women Of The Future media award and many more. She works with Oxfam, the Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, Plan Zheroes, the Food Chain and many food banks, schools and childrens centres to teach people to cook and eat well on a low income, and campaigns against the causes of poverty and austerity in Britain and abroad.