10 Tips to Stretch Your Christmas Food Budget
Is money tight this holiday season? Learn how to stretch your Christmas food budget so you can spend less on Christmas dinner and more on the other things that matter.
Christmas is right around the corner, and you’re already considering your budget and wondering how you will make it all work. Today, I’m going to help you stretch your Christmas food budget. You’ll be able to create a wonderful meal for your family while saving money so you can have another present under the tree!
The biggest key to staying within your Christmas budget is to get organised. Heading into your local grocery store without a plan of what you are making and how much you need to buy to make it is a recipe for budget disaster.
Start by creating your guest list. Keep the guest list small to help lessen the strain on the budget. Gather all your recipes and note the ingredients and quantity to make sure to “shop” your cabinets—you may have elements you need already on hand.
Before you go shopping, however, make sure to keep the following few tips in mind.
Ask Guests To Bring A Dish Or A Drink
Guests often bring a dish to a large gathering like Christmas brunch or dinner. Reach out to your most responsible guests and ask if they’d like to get anything. Can cousin Betsy bring her famous roasted potatoes? Check your list. Ensure your guest knows how many people will attend your dinner to get the right amount.
If you feel uncomfortable asking a guest to bring a dish, you can always see if they have an extra bottle of wine lying around that they could get. They often do and may stop at the store if they don’t—no one wants to show up to a party empty-handed.
Choose A Different Cut Of Meat
Prime Rib is a top pick for Christmas dinner, but its price tag is enough to break the bank. Instead, choose a tougher cut of meat, like top sirloin or brisket. Cooking tougher cuts of meat correctly can yield a tender roast that will make everyone around the Christmas table smile!
Use Foods That Stretch The Budget
Unlike Thanksgiving, there aren’t a lot of “traditional” foods for Christmas. I did an informal survey on my Facebook page, and many people have some roast, but that’s where the similarities end. Christmas proteins ranged from roasts to turkeys to hams to tofu. Sides included the traditional Thanksgiving sides and a lot of ethnic food—Mexican, Indian, and Chinese. Many people had specific family traditions, like baked pineapple, crab, or pasta. Some people didn’t have Christmas dinner and preferred brunch or, my particular favourite, an entire day of snacking on appetisers.
Because your guests might not have the exact expectations as Thanksgiving, you can stretch your budget by using foods that don’t break the bank. Potatoes, pasta, and rice go a long way on a small budget and make good sides for a roast, as mentioned above. Dessert can be simple — no need to make or buy a fancy Buche de noel; an apple pie or little mince pies will do just fine. More than anything, skip fancy dishes with a long list of ingredients (especially ones you don’t use in your everyday cooking) — stick with simple, home-cooked recipes, and everyone will return for seconds.
Consider Fewer Dishes But Larger Quantities
Likewise, choose to make fewer dishes this year but in larger quantities. No one will miss something they never knew would be there, and buying fewer ingredients will make your budget go much further.
Choose One Signature Drink
Instead of opening your bar cabinet to your guests, serve a signature Christmas drink. Classic egg nog is a great pick, or hot buttered rum will warm your guests from the inside out. Wine is also always a solid choice or a nice crisp cider.
You could also skip the drinks altogether—but where’s the fun in that?
Your local store will have a lot of Christmas food deals. Buy a local paper, check the circulars, visit their website, and sign up for emails and text messages. Coupons and specials come in a lot of forms these days. Also, you’re looking for manufacturer’s coupons, which is often a less expensive choice.
If you’re a Tesco shopper (if you live close to one, you should be!), use your Something Extra rewards card to earn cash back on your Christmas purchases. You’ll make back a percentage of your spending, saving you even more money in the long run.
Use Curbside Pick Up
I’m usually a go-into-the-store-and-shop kind of girl. I walk our twins in our stroller to our local Tesco’s two or three times a week (though not as much in the winter — brr!) and fill the bottom of our stroller with groceries. I visit with the people where — everyone knows and loves the boys!
Suppose your local store offers curbside pick-up, like Tesco’s eCart! You can sit at your computer, list in hand, and make sure you get everything you need the first time.
And curbside pick-up is convenient if you’re super busy—and who isn’t during this Christmas season?
Decorate With Natural Elements
You don’t have to spend a fortune to decorate for Christmas dinner. You don’t need fancy china, expensive glassware, and Santa and all his reindeer at the centre of the table.
Stick to simple, natural elements like pine cones, a bit of greenery, burlap, and simple white taper candles that are perfect for setting a holiday mood. And let’s be honest, your guests aren’t there for the decor — they are there for the company and the excellent food! (And the presents. Ha!)
Use Your Leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers often get all the glory, but Christmas leftovers make great next-day fare, too! A lovely French dip using leftover rolls, roast, and cheese? Delicious!
I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful for stretching your Thanksgiving budget. How do you pinch pennies around the holidays? Please leave me any tips I missed in the comments!