6 Ways to Cut the Cost of Expensive Holiday Meals
Making a big holiday meal that doesn’t char your budget is always a challenge, but there are ways it can be done.
Holiday meals can wreck your budget, especially if you’re hosting a big clan. Thankfully, these tricks can make them more affordable.
Avoid Food Waste
After my family finished eating our Thanksgiving feast, I scanned the table. We had enough leftovers to feed us for days, but some food found its way to the trash.
If your finances are tight, cut the extra cooking. In fact, you should aim to end the meal with few to no leftovers if you’re struggling to afford a holiday meal in the first place. Cook less and save your money.
Ask People What Food They Love
Another way to cut costs is to ask each person about his or her favorite dish. Turn this year into an experiment, steer away from the traditional holiday grub, and find out what your guests really like. You’ll end up with less food waste and fuller, happier guests. Worst case, you’ll have to make these dishes again next year as an encore!
Have a Potluck
The good old fashion crowdsource! Assign each person to cook a dish or two – give multiple dishes to those people making less expensive items and just a single dish to those providing more expensive parts of the meal.
Strategically Buy Ingredients
If you’re like my family, you already know what you’ll be cooking for a holiday meal ahead of time. Make a list of essential ingredients weeks in advance. Then, whenever you see a particular ingredient on sale (that won’t expire before your meal), go ahead and buy it. The savings each week won’t seem like much, but over the course of a few weeks, this can be a serious savings strategy!
Raid Your Pantry
Let’s face it—Finances run the tightest as you get closer to the holidays. If you’re just days away from a big holiday meal and you are broke, try raiding your pantry.
I don’t think anyone would mind a substitution that would save money and stress for the host.
For instance, we have corn each year, but if we had a few cans of green beans in the pantry, I don’t think anyone would mind a substitution.
Have a More Intimate Gathering
If these tips aren’t enough, you may want to consider having a smaller group this year. There is no shame in telling your family that you can’t host the usual 20-plus-person get-together.
Just make sure you let everyone on the “uninvited” list know so that they can make other plans for the holiday. Better yet, brainstorm a way that you can see them at a different time so there are no hard feelings.
Perhaps next year you can go back to hosting like you have in years past, by realizing your limits today.