Pavlova 2021
Chart of the Month: The cost of a Christmas meal

Christmas Day is just around the corner, and with it, the culinary delight that is a Christmas Day meal. Often an extravagant smorgasbord of too much food (or enough for lots of leftovers, at least), high food price inflation has made Christmas lunch or dinner an economic curiosity as well as a family occasion.

Our December 2023 Chart of the Month looks at how some of the costs of the Christmas Meal have changed over the last year.

The Christmas Menu – spreadsheet edition

Compiling a Christmas feast is an important task – both in the kitchen and in the spreadsheets. This Christmas meal option includes some generous portions to ensure leftovers are readily available. Our costed Christmas menu includes:

  • Starter: Cheese, crackers, and olives.
  • Main option 1: Christmas BBQ – steak, lamb chops, green salad, sausages, bread, and tomato sauce.
  • Main option 2: Traditional Christmas roast – roast lamb, roast pork, Christmas ham, roast potato, kumara, pumpkin, and green beans.
  • Side dish: Potato salad
  • Dessert: Pavlova and Nana’s Figgy Pudding

Christmas BBQ costs improve, but roast options more expensive

Our estimates, based on generous serving portions, suggest that the 2023 Christmas feast might range between $24 and $30pp. The $24pp option is based around the roast meal, and the $30pp option is for the summer BBQ.

Both the starting cheese and crackers (now $15), and the side potato salad (now $20.22), have increased around 8.7%pa compared to last Christmas.

The price of the BBQ main meal is down 4.0%, to $241.88 for 10 people, while the roast main meal has increased by 7.0%pa, to $182.03 for 10 people.

Dessert costs more too, with figgy pudding costs up 4.6% to $10.52, and the pavlova has increased by 19% to $14.72.

Combined, the entire roast meal in 2023 now costs around $242 for 10 people – a 7.8% increase on Christmas 2022. The entire BBQ meal in 2023 now costs $302 for 10 people, a higher overall cost but down 1.4% from 2022 BBQ costs.

Vegetables, eggs, and sugar more expensive

The Chart below outlines the costs of various components of the meals, but several items stood out.

  • BBQ meat prices have fallen a few percentage points in 2023, but tomato sauce prices are up nearly 15%pa!
  • Roast lamb is cheaper, but roast pork and Christmas ham prices are up, and vegetables are much more expensive (kumara is up 225%, and pumpkin is up 79%!).
  • Dairy products are a bit cheaper, with butter down nearly 14% and milk down 4.7%pa, but sugar is up 29%pa, and eggs are up a whopping 57%pa!
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