Last year we hit the Queen Victoria Market on Christmas Eve and it was a gold mine. So much great food and produce and offered at great prices. The prawns were not on special, of course not. But step away from the seafood section and the market really does offer great last minute bargains. Here’s a rerun from the story we run on Dec 24 last year, to inspire you to head to the market this year!
Dec 24 2016
There’s a lot of shouting going on at the market, on a good day, and Christmas Eve is no different. Burly Italian blokes, gregarious Greeks and cheerful Chinese ladies are hurling their special prices into the crowd. The meat section is raucous with bargains, except for the seafood stalls. The prawn shortage of 2016 has dampened the festive spirits somewhat, with only oysters hitting the cheap list.
We didn’t need to go shopping for anything today in fact, but knew that with six days of non-trading ahead, the last hour of trading on Christmas Eve would yield a few bargains. With $100 in my pocket we rolled a mini-trolley down to the Queen Victoria Market to see what was on special.
Mangoes and mince meat were the big winners. With closing time scheduled for 3pm we arrived around 2:15pm, and already the mince meat was being offered at half price or less. Mangoes were down below $2 each for the big juicy ones, although it’s the smaller more fragrant varieties which catch my eye. $15 a box looks like a good price, but the box is too big for our cart. $1.50 for a punnet of strawberries, however, is very easy to pack for the walk home.
By 2:30pm the volume levels in the produce and meat sections are rising sharply. One Vietnamese last timidly, even politely, tries to offer me a handful of mushrooms for $2 and I can’t help but wonder if she’s the right girl for the job. Next to her an Italian girl is screaming at the top of her lungs, “$5 box of mangoes”.
The crowd is thinning quickly now and the seafood merchants are bagging their quality items for storage. Only the oysters are being chucked out the door. Lamb roasts are being sold at unbelievable bargains, and I’m suddenly sad that we’ve already got a fancy Christmas lunch to attend tomorrow, instead of staying home and working our way through a leg of lamb.
We watch a few blokes struggling to haul their boxes of nectarines past the seafood stalls. They were only $1 a kilo in the produce sheds, but at 2:45pm they were walking away for $1 a box. With close to 4kgs in a box, you can happily ignore the handful of rotten nectarines at the bottom, it’s still a good deal.
The deli section was pretty quiet from 2pm onwards. No big specials, no need to clear out their shops and no flood of customers desperate to complete their last minute Christmas catering. Many were closing early in fact, as were the organic section outside. Before heading home we decide to grab the very best mangoes we can find, as a treat for the family tomorrow. We could go cheaper, but the thing I love most about Queen Victoria Market is the quality.
And of course, the free tram ride home with our trolley full of fruit. Next year we’ll plan our Christmas menu to take better advantage of the market, and bring a bigger trolley.
Mangoes / $20 box
Nectarines / $1 box (4kg)
Limes / $7 for 10 big ones
Lychees / $10 for 1kg
Minced Beef / $7 for 2.5kg
Roses / $12 for 2 bunches
Total spend of $57