From Lidl’s gold-encrusted salmon to Iceland’s toffee crowns: We sample the best budget Christmas food | birthday

wWe live in a world where the main message of Christmas is to “spend, spend, spend,” and where festive has become synonymous with luxury — but you don’t have to bankrupt yourself for having a good time. Helpfully, more budget-conscious retailers have pushed the boat this year, hoping to lure customers away from their high-end rivals with goldfish and giant toffee crowns. With food prices rising at record rates, it has the potential to be an attractive option for many of us. But what is it worth spending your hard-earned money on…and what’s the best on the shelf?

£4.50 for 130g
Given the questionable desirability of smoking something as delicate as the fish three times, this is surprisingly mild—in fact, the fish could have done with a bit more flavor to stand up to the aggressive citrusy pieces of rind on top, which sadly look better than they taste. With tender, fatty cuts of fish, you’d be better off grating some orange zest on plain smoked salmon if that combination is in order (or pair it with marmalade if you’re feeling particularly daring). 4/10

ASDA Ultimate Blackthorn Dry Smoked Salmon

£6 for 120g
Cheap smoked salmon is often thinly sliced ​​to help maintain the illusion of abundance, so it’s refreshing to see some of the more generous cuts on offer here. The blackthorn does not refer to any berry slaw flavour, but to a type of Scots sea salt that seems to have been spread similarly generously, and paired with a somewhat sharp smoke. This is best served with plenty of brown bread and butter or cream cheese to balance out the salt. 7/10

Liddell Royal Smoked Scottish Salmon Fillet with Gold Dust

Liddell Premium Premium Smoked Salmon Fillet with Golden Luster

£9.99 for 200g
If you really want to wow your guests—as in, surprise them in stark silence with the sheer power of a canapé—this gold-encrusted piece from Bling Fishy is for you. The salmon has a good body and a fairly light smoke, but let’s be honest, all anyone cares about is the gold. Cut into chunky, gold-coated slices and celebrate like King Croesus himself — definitely one to keep in mind for New Year’s Eve, too. 9/10

£5 for 400g
My first reaction when I finally found some prawns at the bottom of the pot was to wonder what the legal definition of a prawn king was, because I was expecting something bigger from these little babies – and given that, with seafood at least, smaller is usually better and disappointingly less bland. also. Fortunately, the sauce has enough sweet and sour flavor that if you stick it on top of some grated ice, and top it with diced cucumber and chilies, no one will complain. Having said that, I suspect it will still be cheaper to make your own frozen prawns, but for the time or energy, this would be a godsend. 7/10

I have Argentinian shrimp skewers

£3.99 for 126g
Another one had me googling prawns – Argentinian red prawns are a new species to me, but they appear on my list of sustainability red seafood to avoid. I can’t find much more info on these, but honestly, they don’t have a lot of character anyway – despite the name, even the marinade is a little muted. Again, you’d be better off buying Marine Conservation Society-approved frozen shrimp closer to home and seasoning them yourself, keeping in mind that the smaller the shrimp, the sweeter the flavor. 5/10

Lidl Deluxe Scallops

£3.29 for 200g
The scallop crust gratin is always a joy to see (so deliciously retro!), however it should be noted that despite the blocky example on the box, the one I’m trying to cut into small pieces is relatively reminiscent of the rubber on top of a pencil. The sauce is light and creamy, with the morning bitterness lingering after too many glasses of bad fizz – why would anyone cook with the world’s most expensive sparkling wine I can’t do. If you want seafood, there are much better value options. 2/10

Aldi lemon, raspberry and orange salmon

pound6.99 for 534 grams
While I’m not personally bothered by the marriage of cranberries and fish, if you’re tempted by this big protein nugget, I strongly advise you to carefully consider the instructions for baking it for over an hour. Not only will you totally spoil it, but with energy prices what they are, you’ll also end up spending whatever money you might have saved on salmon. If I were you, I’d check it out in 20 minutes. There is nothing wrong. 7/10

Lidl Deluxe Stuffed Venison Joint with Ham, Apple and Rosemary with Smoked Bacon

£12.99 for 800g
I’m going to level with you: This isn’t binoculars. God knows how they managed to get the packaging shot, which comes straight from one of Henry VIII’s banquets, but the reality is, according to the photographer, “a little slab of sadness” — soggy-like stuffing from an abandoned sofa under a smoke shield of burning bacon. Venison is naturally lean meat, so you’ll need all your teeth here, but (plot twist) close your eyes and it tastes good. 7/10

£3.99 for 350g
“There was something terribly wrong with the gravy,” the food designer says apologetically as she presents me with what appears to be a crumbling sand castle accompanied by a thimble of something unpleasantly gelatinous. Gravy aside, this has a very old-fashioned vegetable vibe: lots of different textures, including peanuts, shredded carrots, lentils, and cranberries, held together by a moist mound. The dominant flavor is onion and nostalgia. It’s not terrible, but it’s 2022: Vegans deserve better. 5/10

Luxurious Lidl Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Gratin

£2.49 for 450g
I love buds. I like them raw, I like them well, I like them slow cooked in a sweet and nutty presentation accompanied by generous amounts of butter. But that sad crow, which has to go into the oven for a full 40 minutes, is like something served in an institutional setting, and guests will have reason to complain. Soft, gloopy and downright unpleasant – vegetables for people who want an excuse not to finish them. 1/10

Felicity Cloake taste tests Christmas candy budget
“Guaranteed to kick you out after lunch…” Photograph: Essie Crocker/The Guardian

£10 for 2070g
This bears an undeniable resemblance to a similar offering from M&S last Christmas…but the watches are almost twice as big. As dense and tender as any respectable sticky toffee pudding, but in a more regal format, with frankly outrageous amounts of sticky, sticky sauce, and another sweet creamy one that saves you making a custard (although I wouldn’t say no). This brilliantly fulfills plum pudding’s traditional role of getting you out after lunch. Great value, especially since it can be cooked in the microwave in minutes. 9/10

Morrison's Best Passion Fruit Panna Cotta Star

7 pounds for 651 grams
This is so solid I think at first it’s made of white chocolate – no sexy wiggle here – but although it’s obviously a bit hard to turn without damaging its marbled perfection, the texture proves to be surprisingly smooth and creamy. The flavor is also good: milky sweet, rather than overly sugary, paired with a pleasantly sharp choli. I am glad to have this after the Christmas feast. 9/10

Liddell dark chocolate and salted caramel

£8.99 for 800g
The idea of ​​pouring molten liquid down the chimney of a country house sounds a little bad. But, even though this chunky chocolate dwelling filled with white chocolate mousse, salted caramel, and hefty chocolate chip cookie bases is a bit too sweet for my taste, I think kids will absolutely love smashing it and smashing the rubble—which is definitely the true spirit of Christmas. Good fun (but be sure to schedule a nice energy-burning walk afterward or you might start in your house afterward). 8/10

Aldi's choice specifically for the snows of the Black Forest

£7.99 for 550g
A word of caution: don’t whack this chocolate ball theatrically with your spoon, hoping for a pinata effect. It’s full of nondescript mousse (infused with “exhausted vanilla seeds” I feel kind of sympathetic to), not enough cake or amarina cherries to support Black Forest’s claim on the box, plus an oddly grainy chocolate and hazelnut base that makes it hard to slice. Outrageously, it’s a no-liquor zone, too. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get to see it in Aldi Germany’s Christmas selection online. Go to the hut instead. 5/10

Leave a Comment