Food inflation hit 12.4% in November, the latest BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index reported this morning. It is the highest rate in the food category since records began in 2005, and means a lot of people will be worried about putting any dinner on the table, never mind a Christmas one.

So, if there was ever a time for bargain store to launch its first full Christmas dinner, it’s now. And no doubt that’s why Poundland chose this morning to do so.

For £25, you get a frozen Christmas dinner main course to feed a family of five, consisting of a turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, gravy, parsnips, sprouts and carrots.

It is the latest in a string of deals of its kind, putting Poundland up against Tesco, Asda, Ocado, Iceland and Heron Foods in this year’s frozen Christmas dinner wars.

The difference is all these others are primarily food retailers, whereas it was only a few years ago the banner over Poundland stores read  “Everything’s £1”. And food was not one of its selling points.

That’s why getting a full Christmas dinner from Poundland is, let’s face it, kind of hilarious. Poundland knows it. “This is no cracker joke,” insisted commercial director Tim Bettley as the retailer boldly declared: “This isn’t just a Christmas dinner – it’s a Poundland Christmas dinner!”

Working out at £5 a head, it is in fact more expensive than any of the aforementioned deals except Ocado’s. Tesco’s deal for five comes in at £4.81 a head, while Asda’s is £4.40, and Iceland’s deal for four is £4.65 a head.

The cheapest deal of them all is Heron Foods, which charges £15 for Christmas dinner for four, working out at £3.37 per person.

Of course, there will be variation in the specification of the deals that may account somewhat for the price difference. Heron’s bit of turkey is a 900g joint, for example, while Poundland’s is a 2kg crown. Poundland’s deal also includes branded products.

There is something else the high street chain is offering that the others are not: for another £1.85 a head, shoppers can make it a four-course meal, adding Young’s frozen prawns, a cheese selection, crackers and Baileys Profiteroles. It brings the total four-course meal for five to £34.25.

As many people are unsure how they are going to pay their energy bills, they will be looking for certainty over food spend. That means knowing the exact cost of a full Christmas dinner including dessert – and therefore how much must be put aside – could hold sway for Poundland.

More importantly for Poundland, if it can convince people buy Christmas dinner in its stores, what else might they buy? Wilko’s troubles have highlighted a problem for variety discounters in the cost of living crisis, in that visiting one is discretionary, while going to a grocer is not.

That’s why recent Kantar data has shown Aldi is taking millions of pounds in spend every month from bargain stores such as B&M, Home Bargains – and Poundland. More people every month are consolidating their shop at a discount grocer and simply not going elsewhere.

Poundland is attempting to turn that formula on its head. Never is buying some general merchandise more obligatory than at Christmas. Wrapping paper, stocking fillers, something from the Pep&Co clothing & homeware range for that difficult-to-buy-for aunt – it’s all there. So why not chuck in the festive dinner and consolidate a bit more of the Christmas shop in Poundland, rather than a supermarket?

“Hundreds of our stores now have chilled and frozen food with stores now also offering fresh fruit & vegetables,” said Bettley. “And in more and more places across the UK, we’re offering an alternative to the big supermarkets, whether it’s for everyday meals or the special ones like Christmas Day.”

It will also test whether Poundland is held back by its name. Lidl and Aldi have over decades paved the way for discount shopping to no longer be any source of embarrassment, even at Christmas. But Christmas dinner from a pound shop – or at least a retailer whose pound shop origins remain so front and centre in its brand – will test that to the extreme.

The quality of the dinner will determine whether its Poundland origins are something to joke about around the Christmas dinner table or something to hide. Poundland obviously hopes for the former. Why else would it have knocked up a Christmas dinner menu for guests, looking every bit the posh restaurant except for the word ‘Poundland’ in gold across the bottom?

The irony is not lost on it.

Poundland Christmas dinner menu

Source: Poundland

And tonight’s fine dining is from…