It’s that time of year again – when your eyes bulge out every time you look at your bank account. Commercialism tends to run a little rampant when the holidays roll around. For those on a budget, all the extravagant meals and gift giving practices we see on TV can sure bring the stress. Double that if you’re hosting.
Before you start hyperventilating into a paper bag, consider this: saving money on those holiday meals is much easier than you might think. All it takes is a little time and a superior ability to Google (and don’t we all have that ingrained by now?)
Money Saving Tips
Saving money on holiday meals starts here. Gather a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to make the dishes at least three weeks in advance, a month, or more. This gives you the time and space to break the purchases up into chunks AND allows you to shop the weekly sales at your local grocery stores.
Don’t be afraid to shop around. You don’t have to get everything at one place. Learn what things you can freeze and what you can’t, in case you see a sale a month out. For example, if heavy whipping cream is super cheap at the start of December, scoop it up them and store it in the freezer until you need it.
Check things off your list as you go, and you’ll have everything in time with quite a few more dollars in your wallet, too.
Coupon, Coupon, Coupon
You don’t have to go to TLC’s Extreme Couponing levels to use and save a decent amount of money on things you were already planning on buying. And that’s the key! Search for coupons only on the things on the list you created. Don’t print out all the best coupons and buy everything on them – you’ll end up way off course and over budget. There are tons of couponing resources out there. Look around for the one that meets your needs.
Coupons.com is a great place to start! Search by category and use the “Local” tab to check out deals in your town.
Buy Store Brand
The quality difference is negligible in most cases, and you’re going to cook it all up with butter and oil anyway. If you’re on a tight budget for the holiday meals, this is a great way to save money that adds up quickly.
Instead of taking on the entire meal yourself, request guests bring a side dish or a dessert. You can prepare the main portion of the meal exactly how you want and not worry much about cooking the rest. As an added bonus, it saves your guests from feeling like they are showing up empty handed or pressured to bring a gift.
If you’re willing to do a little pre-planning and make a few extra trips to different stores to get the best bang for your buck, saving money on those delicious, extravagant, amazingly rich holiday meals is pretty simple. Which is great because you are gonna need that extra money for some new pants after the holidays anyway, right?