Money Matters Monday: Holiday Meal Planning on a Budget
The holiday season is fast approaching and it is time to decide who will host the myriad of events that are coming up. Hosting a holiday meal can severely impact a carefully planned monthly grocery budget so any opportunities to keep cost down should be considered. Here are a few tips for holiday meal planning on a budget.
Consider a Potluck Approach
If your family is going to offer and want to bring an item, consider formally calling the meal a potluck where you provide the main course (turkey or ham) and appetizers, sides, and desserts are brought by different members of the party. This is budget friendly and allows you to coordinate an amazing meal that has a variety of items for everyone.
Survey your Guests
Before you set out to make the same old meal, find out if that is what your guests really want. I would personally vote for a turkey over a ham anytime! The point is to make sure that your guests will enjoy an expensive meal if that is what you intend to make. There is nothing worse than having your guests go home hungry.
Think outside of the Box
Similar to the tip above, ask your guests to break tradition and try to do a different theme this year for the holiday. The possibilities are really endless on this one – perhaps part of your family is from an exotic, far away location and you could make food from the homeland. Other things to try would be choose a meal from a hat or make one dish requested by each guest for a hodge podge meal.
Traditional Meal, Traditional Savings
Okay, so maybe your family has been looking forward to the full turkey dinner that is the yearly tradition. You still can save on a meal with all the fixings. Grocery stores always have some deals on turkey, ham, potatoes, carrots and other staples for a holiday meal. Consider shopping around for the best deal on high price items and see if you can score coupons for all items.
When All Else Fails
If you simply cannot find a way to make the holiday dinner cheaper, here are some more tips for stretching your buck:
- Make sure that your guests RSVP so that you have a solid number on which to base your meal size. Some extra food is good but too much extra is a waste.
- Meal plan the days after the holiday to take advantage of leftovers. Many fun recipes can be found on this site and on the internet such as open face turkey sandwiches or a whole meal of just sides. See what you can send in school or work lunches and definitely look for good freezable items to use later.
- Use every last scrap of what you purchase. My favorite one is to use the turkey carcass and bones to make turkey soup which you can eat and/or freeze. Planning ahead for this will allow you to use any leftover chopped carrots or celery from a stuffing or a veggie medley.
When you do finally sit down at the table and eat with family and friends, remember to enjoy the meal and the time with the people you love. Regardless of whether you were able to save $50 or $5, there is success in bringing everyone together for another fun holiday together.