With the holidays coming, relatives descending, and parties to host, it’s very difficult not to go crazy on the food bill this month. But this little bit of advice may help you, and me, save some money as we enjoy the warm and loving company of family and friends.
My brother and his girlfriend, my mom and dad, and probably some other friends too, are joining us for the holidays. It’s not just one day, but many. As large families know, feeding eight or 10 people instead of four can be a big difference. So here are my strategies for planning ahead:
1. Meal plan. I normally do this, but I take special care to plan for meals during the holidays. This allows me to strategically think about delicious meals that cost less.
2. Eat real food, mostly plants. These are two of the three instructions from Michael Pollan’s fabulous books. But they work especially well when you have large crowds to feet. Think about the cost of chicken legs for everyone, versus a fabulous lentil casserole, or a soup filled with hearty beans and ham bone. If you concentrate on vegetable sources of protein, things will be a lot cheaper. And, if you aren’t getting pre-made food, it will be way less expensive as well.
3. Bulk up, but only what you need. Before the holidays, I will be going to the local fruit packaging plant and loading up on apples and pears and all sorts of other fruits. I will leave them all over the house for people to eat, but more importantly, I can use them in fruit salads and desserts and snacks as well. In my neck of the woods, a bag of pairs at the fruit packing plant is only three dollars. I’m sure there are deals to be found in your neck of the woods as well.
4. Not every meal needs to be a masterpiece. I find one of the greatest eating joys to be homemade soup, homemade bread, and some cheese on the side. Well that is one of the most healthy and least expensive options we have to eat… And it’s always a hit! I will leave the big turkey dinner for that one big turkey day.
5. Don’t go overboard on extras. We all know it’s nice to have extra snacks and treats around the house at Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. But it’s too easy to stock up on things that you don’t really need. Plan for one sweet snack the day. And it can even be a box of chocolates to share. No need to go crazy now!
Writing down these tips is a good reminder to myself, and hopefully gives you some ideas how to save money at Christmas while being a fabulous host to the family that we love and cherish during the holidays.