Of course you want to treat your family to a delicious holiday meal, but you don’t have to go broke in the process. With a few simple swaps you can create the perfect dinner at a fraction of the price.
Choose appetizers wisely
Appetizers are fun and tasty parts of holiday meals, but many of the ingredients that go into appetizers, such as smoked meats and cheeses, can be pricey. Preparing too many appetizer recipes that are loaded with fancy ingredients can really put a dent in your cooking budget. Fortunately there are plenty of appetizers that can be easily whipped up for under $10. Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and devilled eggs are just two of many budget-friendly options.
Get a deal on the turkey
The turkey is often the most expensive part of the feast. If you want to enjoy a turkey at a reasonable price point, look for one labelled “damaged” or “parts may be missing” at your grocery store. All this means is that something may have gone wrong in the processing or packaging, and a wing, leg or organ (such as the heart or gizzard) may be missing. And sometimes you won’t even notice what’s different. So long as you aren’t worried about appearances, you can enjoy a delicious turkey for a fraction of the price.
A big part of saving money on Christmas cooking comes well before you get into the kitchen. By shopping early, you can slash costs in a big way. Check the online flyers for all the grocery stores in your area, and snatch up products you know you’ll need wherever possible. Any products that will keep in the freezer or pantry don’t need to be purchased the week of, so get them while they’re on sale. You can also save money by opting for the alternatives to well-known brands.
Consider a potluck
If you love the role of hostess, it can be difficult to let go of some control. But sharing the responsibilities in the form of a potluck can be very helpful to your budget. Most people are more than happy to contribute, and it will allow you to focus your energies and your finances on one amazing dish rather than trying to stretch them over a whole meal. Assign each person a category, such as appetizer, side, starter or dessert, and then be sure to check in and find out what they’re planning so you can ensure there will be a good variety. That way you can have a beautiful meal and not have to worry about running up a debt.
Make use of everything
The easiest way to lose money in the kitchen while cooking Christmas dinner is through waste. In many kitchens, far too much ends up in the garbage than is necessary, and that means money down the drain. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, rather than throwing out any stale bread you have, toss it in the freezer, and then use it to make stuffing on Dec. 25. And rather than buying gravy, remove some of the turkey juices with a baster, and place it in a measuring cup about an hour before the turkey is done. Stir in a white sauce made of butter and flour until desired thickness is achieved, and you’ll have your very own homemade gravy. Before you throw anything out, ask yourself whether there just might be a use for it. You’ll reduce waste and save money.