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10 Tips For Burns Night, any Night on a Budget

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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties are not just for Burns Night.

Burns Nights can be so much fun – there’s merriment, celebration, great food, dancing, poetry, singing… and maybe just a dash of whisky, but we don’t have to limit it just to the birthday of the bard.

If you’ve had the honour of hosting a Burns Supper, you’ll know there is a lot to organise, and perhaps a lot to pay for too, but Burns Night fare is good enough for any dinner party.

So how can you throw an enjoyable Burns Supper, any night, without blowing your budget?

Here are ten tips that could help you.

  1. Shopping around for your haggis could reap you benefits and work out much cheaper in the long run.  You could get several haggis cheaper than one hefty one and there may be some good deals on.
  2. Consider buying a smaller haggis and serving it as a starter with a smaller serving of neeps and tatties.  Then serve something less expensive – like a good value beef joint or whole fish – for the main.
  3. If you buy a big haggis, don’t waste the leftovers. Keep it and make some haggis-based dishes for the rest of the week – for example haggis lasagne.  Or serve some the next day in a Scottish breakfast if you have guests who stay over.
  4. Buy cheaper whisky and use it to make a pitcher of Hot Toddy. Your guests are unlikely to taste the difference – especially as the night goes on!
  5. Encourage guests to bring their own drinks – especially if they’re quite particular about their brand of Scotch.
  6. Propose that guests bring their own starters or desserts – to cut down on preparation time and cost for you, and to give the supper more diversity.
  7. For next year, consider having your Burns Nights later – some retailers may bring down the price of any leftover Burns Night food on their shelves after the 25th January.
  8. Grow your own potatoes and turnips.  You’ve plenty of time to prepare for 2014.  Here’s how to grow potatoes and turnips. A good crop will last you for Burns Night and beyond.
  9. A Burns Supper wouldn’t be complete without songs and poems from Robbie Burns himself. has a timetable for the evening – including links to the essential poems and songs – for free.
  10. If you’d like your singers, speakers and other entertainers to read from a book, you could borrow one from your local library.

by the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland.  We hope you had a great Burns Night last week and will continue to enjoy haggis throughout the next year as one of your staple foods!

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An alternative Burns Night Supper – Slow cooked mince, neeps and tatties.

In Scotland, we all know it’s the birthday of the Bard coming up.  If you don’t know who – it’s Rabbie Burns, and we celebrate it on the 25th January every year, so Friday night will be haggis night in many  households around the world.   Robert Burns was a poet who is now looked upon as being the national poet of Scotland.   His birthday is celebrated by both Scots and Non Scots worldwide.

Our children will have Burns celebrations at schools, and many a charity function will be held in his name on Friday night.  I’ll never forget a local poet giving a lament to the haggis a few years ago at a special school, where the lady poet was swinging huge kitchen knives above her head before she ripped the haggis open ceremonially.

A logistical nightmare, our knives had to all be locked away forever after that one.  At least with me being there, I knew where the new-found fascination for knives came from.  I pity the parents of other kids who had no idea why their kids would suddenly have taken to brandishing knives above their heads like daggers with a swagger!

Back to the cooking…

The traditional dish is haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties.

There are vegetarian versions of haggis, but not everyone likes the meat or the vegetarian options as they can be quite spicy.

As an alternative, this weekend, we did a trial run of slow cooked mince with meat from Andrew Gordon Butchery and Fine Foods and the new Neeps & Tatties from the Scotty Brand range.

As always in our house – anything from the slow cooker gets the thumbs up from me for ease – and always tastes fabulous.

Scotty Brand Neeps & Tatties

Slow Cooked Mince, Neeps & Tatties. Alternative Burns Night Supper

Lesley S Smith
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Course Mains
Servings 6 - 8


  • 1 kg Lean Steak Mince
  • 1 Large Onion Chopped
  • 1 kg Neeps & Tatties
  • Stock Pot
  • 500 g Carrots Washed, scraped and chopped or sliced.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cornflour


  • Switch on the slow cooker to high to warm up.
  • Brown the mince with the chopped onion on a thick bottomed pan.
  • Add the mince and onion to the slow cooker. Add in the neeps, tatties and carrots. Add boiling water to almost the top of your ingredients.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper and a stock cube, or stock pot if you prefer a stronger taste.
  • Put the lid on and leave for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.
  • If you want to thicken your hotpot, half an hour before the end of cooking, mix up cornflour with cold water and mix to a smooth paste. Add to your hotpot and fold in until it thickens. If you over thicken, add a little boiling water to fix it.
  • Serve.