Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11 Tips to Save on Holiday Dinner

Every year I try and find strategies for preparing a holiday dinner without blowing my entire grocery budget on one meal. then I remember that I always end up at someone else's house for the holidays and I really don't need to worry about the cost of a bigger dinner....but since I want to all the work of finding some great tips thisd year. I thought I would share them.
  1. Cut the meat. The most expensive item on the menu usually is the meat. You don't need a turkey and ham and a meat platter. Pick one, turkey is usually the cheapest.  Frozen turkeys are cheaper than fresh turkeys. Another option is to choose a bone-in turkey breast instead of a whole bird. Cooking just the turkey breast will cut down on cooking time and your energy bill (think of all the free time to sleep in or do your nails). Whole turkeys may be the tradition, but did you know that after discarding bone and fatty parts, only about 40 percent is edible? Seriously 40%. 40%!!!!!
  2. Whats in your Kitchen?  Odds are good you have some ingredients you need already in your pantry. Take stock of your supplies and plan your dishes based on what you already have on hand.
  3. I have a Coupon. Check mailers and online for coupons that will save money on things you need...no need to buy that brand name brownie mix if that isn't on the menu. In addition most grocery stores lower their prices about two weeks prior to a holiday. 
  4. Keep the menu short. Holidays are a time when we tend to go over bored, gifts, activities and especially on food. Check out what you are planning and then cut out at least three dishes. Do you have that one dish last year that hardly anyone ate? Say good-bye to it. Focus on the family favorites. No one needs three desserts...whats your favorite one? Cook that one, who wants to waste time and energy on desserts you don't like to eat?
  5. Pick in season produce. There is a reason squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, pears, cranberries, oranges, cauliflower and broccoli are often part of traditional holiday dinners. They are in season, our ancestors knew it and that is why they prepared them. If you are sick of eating them try a new way of preaparing the item...and remember, frozen vegetables are just as flavorful and nutritious. 
  6. Potluck anyone. You cook the bird and have guests bring their favorite holiday side dish. This DRAMATICALLY cuts your shopping bill plus you know every guest will have one side dish they will love.
  7. Do you really want to eat with them? Instead of feeding everyone you have ever meet, keep it to immediate family and close friends. Instead consider inviting more people over for cocktails/coffee and dessert later in the evening.
  8. Decorating 101 on the cheap. People are coming to see you not to see if you have the appropriate amount of tinsel on the tree. Keep it warm and simple. Yummy food is what is important in this situation.
  9. If you must decorate. If you are like me and want to set a nice table skip the fancy center piece and pricey floral arrangements.  Scatter a few tea candles or Holiday d├ęcor you already own around the room and on the table. (That cute nutcracker you impulsively bought that sits in the corner will look cute on your table). Put some colorful tree ornaments you are not using in a vase, or lay them down the center of the table. Even better have everyone bring a favorite Holiday picture to place around the table and room, they are a great way to relive memories and start conversations.
  10. After holiday celebrations. Everyone is very busy in the weeks leading up to holidays. Consider skipping the big holiday dinner and celebrate after the fact. You will save big on after holiday sales. 
  11. Be a guest. This one is my favorite, if anyone invites your family to their home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, do say YES. Think of the lack of stress and extra time you will have that day. A handmade card or offer to bring a simple side dish is a great way to say thank you and keep you from feeling like a freeloader. 

What are some of your favorite tips to save on holiday meals?

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