Even though holiday meals are often meant to express thanks for the year’s abundance, you can still entertain during the holidays while avoiding stretching your finances beyond their capacity.
How Can This Be Done?
It’s possible to serve up delicious holiday meals without destroying your household budget. The key to saving money on anything, but especially holiday meals, is planning and forethought. After that, the success or failure is up to the chef!
Follow these smart strategies to save money on holiday meals this year:
1. Portion sizes
Consult your guest list to be sure that the amount of food you make matches how many people you’ll be serving. Limit waste by only preparing what your guests will actually eat on the day of the meal. Everyone loves holiday leftovers, but you don’t want to be eating turkey and cranberry sauce for a month afterwards!
2. Don’t neglect the leftovers you do have
Plan out meals for leftovers so you put them to good use and nothing goes to waste. Package leftovers into portion sizes for future meals and store them based on the time you plan to serve them in. Pretty much anything can be frozen and thawed out later. Leftovers make great lunches for school or at work.
3. Know when to shop
The day after Thanksgiving is an ideal time to stock up for Christmas dinner. Turkeys, hams, and all of the fixings will be on sale at a steep discount the day after the holiday to clear inventory.
∙ Turkeys and hams will go on sale for as little as 25% of their original price and hams are often sold in a similar fashion. Make room in your freezer ahead of time to take advantage of these sales and cut costs for your upcoming holiday meal.
4. Know which conveniences matter
Boxed mashed potatoes take much less time to prepare than real mashed potatoes, but taste far worse. Pre-baked or pre-made rolls are more expensive, but probably taste better or as good as what you can make yourself from scratch. You don’t have to do everything. There’s nothing wrong with cutting a few small corners to save time and money.
That said, cooking from scratch is always cheaper. When possible, cook from scratch. Stuffing and gravy are two holiday staples that you can make at home more cheaply than you can buy them. The same ingredients you’re using for a number of other items will combine to make great stuffing and runnings from the turkey pan makes wonderful gravy.
Holiday meals are meant to be enjoyable. You and your guests will enjoy the meal all the more when you’re not stressed out over the cost or rushing around the house at the last minute. Plan ahead, cut costs where you can, and have a wonderful holiday meal that fits within your budget.