Cooking On A Budget: Easy and Inexpensive: Holiday Fare

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Easy and Inexpensive: Holiday Fare


Budget cooking on a day to day basis can be stressful enough for some families let alone those families who have almost no budget at all and must rely on the generosity of folks like you and me to give what we can and when we can to our local food banks or make a monetary donation to an organization like Share Our Strengths, No Kid Hungry campaign.
The holidays seem to add to the stress. Holidays are meant to spend time with family and friends sharing food, making new memories and spreading good cheer to all. But often many families don't have the cash outlay to spend on holiday entertaining. So things that others take for granted like making lovely appetizers, baking special holiday desserts or making signature holiday cocktails doesn't seem likely for lots of other folks.
Our mission here is to provide as many recipes that are budget friendly in the hopes that you can find the recipes that suit your budget and your palette. I have once engaged my fellow bloggers to help and without them this post would not be possible. So my hat is off to them for their concern and care enough to provide the photographs and the recipe links to make someone's life just a little less stressful.

A good idea is to start with a master plan. If you know what you want to cook or bake for the holidays make a menu and from there make a grocery list of items you know you'll need. So from now until the holidays look to pick up one or more on sale items you may be using for the holiday recipes. A little each week so you don't have to outlay tons of cash all in one grocery trip. On the day you begin to bake or prepare ahead for family and guests you will have the piece of mind knowing that you have everything needed and that should cut down on the stress.

I have provided the links to the Contributor's Facebook pages along with the links to each recipe they have submitted. It would be lovely if you showed them some love by visiting to get the recipes and checking out their Facebook pages.

Every holiday table during the season is not complete without an appetizer or two before the main meal. The fancy term is Amuse Bouche. The Amuse Bouche is something you serve to whet the appetite. I am starting off the recipe grouping with one of my most recent recipes that was so delicious my husband could not stop eating it and I came in at a close second.

EASY Hot Bacon Cheddar Dip is packed with flavor from the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, hot sauce and bacon and onion.
It so easy to put together, bakes quickly and spreads nicely on crackers.
The recipe makes 3 cups for about $4.58 and can be doubled with ease.
Your family and guests will love this.

If you want an easy appetizer cracker recipe, my Savory Appetizer Crackers fit the bill.
The yield is about 34 crackers and the cost is about $3.10 which is less expensive than most store bought crackers.
A versatile recipe where you can change the flavor profile by using a different cheese or spice.
Cut them using a 2 inch cutter of your choice rendering different shapes.

Easy as 1-2-3 Sausage Dip served with some chips or crackers on the side can keep your guests happy while dinner is being finished and the final touches are being put on the dish. For a large crowd this dish can be made for approximately $8.48. After you put it together you can place it in a small crock pot to stay warm. It's a three ingredient recipe and the flavors blend for one snappy delicious dip. Created by Lori Vachon of Who Needs A Cape?

Pizza Puffs is another nice appetizer bite to share with family and guests. This recipe is from Debi Wayland of Life Currents.

Good entertaining needs choices and this recipe can be made without the pepperoni to have a vegetarian appetizer choice. It's not a complicated recipe and makes 24 mini appetizers for less than $4.00.

Strawberry Bruschetta recipe comes from Joanne DiPaola of Winelady Cooks. This recipe was created to serve at brunch so if your holiday consists of a brunch menu, this is perfect.

Strawberries go on sale often even in the colder months and one basket will make a good amount of these. Bathed in some balsamic vinegar and agave nectar to bring out the best in the berry.

Served on simple toasted bread you can make lots of these for around $6.99.

Who doesn't love a good deviled egg as an appetizer? These delicious Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs recipe comes from Cindy Jamieson of Hun, What's For Dinner. You may think because of the bacon these would be expensive, but they are not. This recipe yields 24 for a mere $5.12. Yup you heard correctly. This recipe combines the gorgeous yolk, some cheese, good mayo, mustard and topped with some crispy bacon.

Also from Cindy of Hun, What's for Dinner is a warm appetizer dip: Kale Artichoke Dip.

Make a nice casserole dish of this hot out of the oven dip as the precursor to dinner and your guests will be very happy.

I figured the cost of this dip to be approximately $7.80.

Beer Cheese Spread from Brandi Burgess of Aunt Bee's Recipe can be served with sliced vegetables or crackers and is a very economical spread you make from scratch.

This makes about 2 cups or so of the spread for about $5.26. You pay almost that much for some of the commercial spreads in your deli section! With this recipe you know the ingredients are wholesome.

In the spirit of the season, Joanne from Winelady cooks has a Pumpkin Dip recipe that you can serve with crackers or thin slices of apple. This dip cost approximately $3.98 to make and uses everyday ingredients.

This next recipe for Swiss Cheese Dip comes from Michaela of An Affair from the heart.

It's such a simple recipe and not expensive at all. Three ingredients. Done.

Delicious and economical and I approximate that you can make this 2 cup or so batch for approximately $4.89.

Zucchini Tots - this beautiful recipe comes from Dan of Platter Talk. Zucchini is one of the least expensive vegetables you can buy. It's a year round vegetable that's sold in any grocery store.

These little gems are put together than baked in a mini muffin tin so they are the perfect little appetizer bite. One batch makes at least 24 at an approximate cost of $3.75. Double it, why not?

This last appetizer is such a clever idea and it is from Nancy Fox of Skinny Kitchen. The great thing about this recipe is that you serve it on a skewer. It's Low Carb Salad on a Stick and it works for an appetizer as well as for a salad course.
Now you can use any lettuce you like, choose which vegetable to add and what meat to have included however Nancy's recipe is great as is. And she also has salad dressing suggestions.


If you want to make your holiday gathering special, why not offer some signature cocktails that will certainly brighten the spirit of the party? This first cocktail recipe is one that is called Valentine's Day Martini from Debi Wayland of Life Currents. It certainly isn't just for Valentine's but can be served for any of the upcoming holidays. It's bright wonderful lemon flavor will wow your guests. One bottle of a citron vodka will give you many martini's.

Another fun and festive cocktail comes from Michelle Nash of The Complete Savorist. Her special cocktail is a Cinnamon Apple Tini.

If you already bought apple cider save some for this delicious adult beverage.

Garnish with thin slices of apple and rim the glasses with some cinnamon sugar.

Very festive indeed!

Oh my, this post from Jessica Fasano Formicola of Savory Experiments, is a three in one post. Three fabulous cocktails/mocktails recipes to make on the holidays. Three Blended Fall Cocktails and Mocktails give you three options and you can make it non-alcoholic for kids or adults who don't drink or kick it up with a wee bit of the spirits.

Gazpacho Cocktail recipe comes courtesy of Janette Fuschi of Culinary Ginger. A full bodied cocktail that embraces the elements of a Gazpacho. 

Ho Ho Ho Holiday Eggnog - we all know this is such a popular holiday drink. Lynette from Moore or Less Cooking Blog is the creator of this festive holiday treat.

The cost is the eggnog and what you choose for rum. Or serve it non-alcoholic with a dollop of whipped cream and some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Either way, it's good.

Janette Fuschi of Culinary Ginger was kind enough to submit this wonderful Holiday Round Up of cocktail recipes. This is a collection of blogger's best cocktail recipes that you can make for any of the upcoming holidays.

Michaela Kenkel from An Affair from the Heart has the perfect Pumpkin Pie Martini recipe. Made with pumpkin liqueur you and your guests will love this very special spirit.

You just can't have holidays without desserts. Even after we have stuffed ourselves silly with appetizers and dinner we never want to forgo dessert do we? Desserts don't have to strain our pocketbook either. There are lots of home made from scratch or semi-home made desserts that we can offer our family and friends.

Our first dessert comes from Cydnee Knoth of Tampa Cake Girl. This delicious Perfect Pumpkin Mousse recipe can be made for around $6.07 with out the cookie garnish. Put it in some special glasses - even a martini glass and it makes a stunning dessert presentation. The recipes serves six nice portions.

Our next dessert recipe is a clever one from Kecia Jerome of Kecia's Flavor Breakthrough. I never imagined this but an Apple Calzone is a very economical dessert.
Use store bought pizza dough which is about $1.49 a bag or make Kecia's recipe as on her blog. Apples and common spices make this a winner of a dessert for around $5.00.

What kid or adult doesn't love a brownie? Easy recipe using a boxed mix and adding in other yummy ingredients and you get Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Dan Zehr of Platter Talk. A Culinary Blog. You end up with 24 servings of a wonderful holiday dessert that everyone will love for approximately $5.30. Be sure to pick up the brownie mix on sale and cream cheese - they usually are on sale this time of year for great prices. Check the dollar store for pumpkin puree as well.

This Easy Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Tart was absolutely delicious. The cost to make is a little over $9.00 and what I like about this is it is not complicated to make. You could make this a day in advance of your holiday dinner so one task is out of the way. The recipe comes from this blog.

An even greater value dessert costing approximately $7.15 to make is this delicious pie that uses canned fruit which can be purchased inexpensively.
Easy Pear and Peach Pie with Streusel Topping and it's right here on the blog. Use a home made crust or an on-sale frozen or refrigerated crust saving time and money.

Here is a great recipe for Peanut Butter Jelly Bars. Gosh this recipe is simple and inexpensive. Kids will adore these gems for sure. It's a great way of putting out a dessert that doesn't cost a lot of money and with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. Another recipe from Cindy of Hun,What's For Dinner.

No matter what holiday, cookies are always welcome at the dessert table. I love cake box cookies because they are easy to make and come together in no time at all.

Your kids will love helping you make these. Double Chocolate Monster Cookies - delicious.

And even with nuts they cost approximately $4.07 to make. 

Joanne T. Ferguson of What's On The List is our next dessert contributor. Joanne hails from "down under" and has agreed to make notations where necessary to translate a couple of items in the recipe that I myself was not familiar with. This is her recipe for Wacky Cake - a crazy and delicious cake that is sure to please your family and guests. Bakes in an 8 inch glass baking dish and cost approximately $6.95.

Oh and a three ingredient scrumptious cookie recipe comes from Katerina Delidimou of Culinary Flavors. I am so impressed with this simple cookie - egg whites, coconut and caster sugar! It all ends up to make one delicious bite for not a ton of money. Get the recipe for these lovely Coconut Cookies and make an inexpensive batch for approximately $3.19.

Hold on to your hats. Here's a wonderful cookie recipe from Janette Fuschi of Culinary Ginger. These beautiful Jammie Dodgers are really delicious. Make a batch for approximately $4.00. It's always lovely to have an array of cookies and this cookie is great. Use your favorite jam from your pantry.

Jodie Chapman from Jodie's Kitchen has a wonderful recipe that is easy and inexpensive. I am loving her Butter Pecan Cake. It uses boxed cake mix for a base and butter pecan frosting gets added in for a delicious flavor profile. Simple to put together and it's ready in a hour. For the holidays you can make this a day in advance and keep it covered. I approximated that you can make this great cake for about $5.60, maybe less. Serves 12-20 slices depending on how you slice it!

This beautiful Pumpkin Pie Pudding recipe that you can make for probably under $3.00 comes from Rhonda Eagle of Kitchen Dreaming

This is made with basic ingredients you can find in your pantry or your regular grocery store and will be a welcomed addition to your dessert table.

Making home made breads is a tradition in lots of homes. They make wonderful gifts as well. This recipe from Lynette of Moore or Less Cooking is for a Cranberry Applesauce Bread. Moist and delicious. Again, you can bake these ahead of the holidays. The recipe makes one large loaf pan or two smaller ones. Consider baking and freezing the loaves and pull them out when you need them. Bring them to room temperature and if you want, serve them warm with a dollop of whipped cream or spread on some cream cheese. A great idea for your dessert table or if you are having a brunch meal on the holidays. I estimated the cost to be approximately $6.25 which is inexpensive. Plus, there's no chemicals or preservatives.

I've made a few versions of cake mix box cookies and this recipe also from Lynette of Moore or Less Cooking is for her Christmas Fudgy Crinkles.

Easy and inexpensive. Get the cake mixes on sale like I do at 10 for $10.00 and you have a nice batch of inexpensive cookies which will cost you about $2.20.

The nice thing about these cake box cookies is any flavor of cake mix works and you simply add ingredients to suit your pallet.

From Mary of Bunny's Warm Oven is a recipe for Barb's Apple Dumplings. I really think this is a fabulous recipe and it doesn't have to break the bank.

Make your favorite pie crust or use store bought, but please try this recipe over the holidays. Buy single apples or a bag - which ever is least expensive for you.

They say 4 small apples is about one pound and 3 medium is also about one pound. At our store, my favorite apple is on sale for $1.79 per pound.

With that in mind I figured the cost of this recipe that is for six portions you would spend $5.84.

Skinny Peppermint Bites recipe is from Nancy of Skinny Kitchen. These nice bite size ice cream treats will be a huge hit with the kids. Roll them in some crushed candy canes at holiday time and then watch them disappear. 20 tasty little bites for around $6.49.

Side Dishes
The side dishes that compliment your dinner can be easy and inexpensive. They round out the meal and you always want some choices for family and guests. Represented here are some economical and easy to put together side dishes I think you will all enjoy.

From Lori Vachon of Who Needs A Cape is this side dish recipe for Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots. Simple and easy to put together and if the baby carrots tend to be more expensive use the long carrots and cut them down.
The ingredients are basic and not fancy and I love that the dish cooks in the slow cooker. That's one less burner you have to use and you are not taking up precious oven space that is needed for roasting your bird.
You cook the dish on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8.
As I generally don't purchase baby carrots, this lovely side dish using regular carrots costs approximately $2.79.

Easy Stuffin' Muffins from Linda Feldman Shapiro of Meal Planning Maven is a terrific recipe. The recipe has basic ingredients and the gem of this is you bake the stuffing in individual paper lined muffin tins. Serves 12 large muffin portions for under $7.00. What makes this stuffing recipe so good is the blending in of some apple with every day pantry spices in the cubed bread.

From yours truly comes a dish which can be made for approximately $6.25. I just love that this is so fall looking because of the color. It's my Orange Cauliflower with Parmesan Cream Sauce. This is not a complicated dish and instead of a regular cheese sauce, this Parmesan Cream Sauce make it less expensive and the flavor is wonderful!

This next dish from Linda of Meal Planning Maven is hearty, filling and delicious. And, it's so budget friendly. Whole Wheat Veggie Orzo makes a lovely addition as a side to a large roasting chicken.

You can feed lots of people with a side like this. Use your shopping savvy and grab the pasta or any other ingredient when they go on sale.  I am figuring the approximate cost of this dish to be approximately $5.68.

 Cheesy Crocked Corn - I just love the name because it just reminds me of the song, "Jimmy Crack Corn" - you know the one I am talking about?
Well the dish is from Lori Vachon of Who Needs a Cape and this delicious, creamy and cheesy dish cooks in your slow cooker and comes in at approximately $6.43 to make. Serving about 8-10 portions.
Again, the slow cooker frees up valuable stove top space.

Dinner would not be complete without dinner rolls. And these beautiful Classic Dinner Rolls come from Mary Bostow of Bunny's Warm Oven . The yield is 12 delicious rolls and they cost about $3.05 to make.

Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots recipe is so simple and inexpensive yet it elevates the simple and delicious carrot to a whole other level. Thanks to Debi Wayland of Life Currents for this beautiful recipe that costs under $3.00 to make. A two pound bag of carrots will give you at least six portions cutting each carrot into thirds.

Another inexpensive side dish recipe is my Zucchini and Broccoli Gratin. This small casserole dish feeds 6-8 portions for approximately $5.71.

Both vegetables complement each other while baking away in a bath of wonderful cheese.
Made with basic ingredients, this side dish will go well along side ham or poultry.

I have made my own version and just love Roasted Parmesan Broccoli  . This easy to make and ever so delicious recipe comes once again from Cindy of Hun, What's For Dinner. In figuring the cost I came up with this side dish costing approximately $3.46. Fresh broccoli. Roasted.

Anything with bacon added is highly popular with the masses. Brandi Burgess of Aunt Bee's Recipes has a recipe for Southern Style Peas.

A delicious side dish of these peas costs approximately $3.69 and you get about 6-8 servings. 

This next side dish recipe is from Kelly Page of Tasting Page. It's an interesting and delicious side for Cauliflower Rice.

There are not many ingredients to the recipe and for a few cents over the cost of a head of cauliflower you have a unique and delicious side dish. 

Kelly has also given us a recipe for Cumin Sauteed Carrots. The sweetness of the carrots blended with some savory elements makes the dish. Cook up a pound of carrots along with the recommended spices and this would make a wonderful side dish to a ham. You are not talking a lot of cost here either. For everything you are spending less than $3.00.

The holiday table isn't complete without cranberry sauce. Lynette Moore from Moore or Less Cooking gives us a beautiful Candied Orange and Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce recipe.

I estimate the cost to be around $4.00, give or take, to make a delicious home made cranberry sauce that has lots of flavor. Recipe makes 2 1/2 cups.

Also from Lynette of Moore or Less Cooking is a recipe that you can make a day in advance and then bake it off the day of the holiday.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan and Bread Crumbs is full of flavor and will certainly be a crowd pleaser because everyone like potatoes and cheese, right?

Plus making it in advance will help you out immensely. Be sure to take the casserole out of the refrigerator at least an hour before baking.

I made this a while back and we LOVED it. Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan. You don't have to purchase expensive Parmesan in a block either to make this rather tasty side dish; regular jar Parmesan is just fine. Two ingredients - one great dish.

Ever so healthy and tasty is this Creamed Spinach recipe from April Harris of April J Harris (21st Century Housewife).

The recipe feeds 4-6 people. Now if fresh spinach is out of your reach you could substitute frozen spinach but you would have to make sure to thaw and squeeze all the water out of it in a clean kitchen towel. Alternate ingredients to the spinach could either be kale or Swiss chard.

There is nothing like a treasured family recipe, especially one handed down from a grandmother.

This recipe for My Grandma's Stuffing from Michaela of An Affair From the Heart is indeed a special recipe for her. In fact her grandma's recipe and my mom's recipe are extremely close.

You can make this huge amount of stuffing for around $6.68. There is a good 8-10 servings of a favorite holiday side.

I certainly do hope this post helps many of you with feeding your family this holiday season. What has been presented here clearly shows you can cook with fresh ingredients and on hand pantry items for not tons of money.
My blogging buddies were more than happy to contribute to this post and offer up delicious recipes to give you choices of food to make this holiday season. Once again I want to thank them:
  • Dan Zehr
  • Brandi Burgess
  • Michaela Martin Kenkel
  • Lori Vachon
  • Debi Wayland
  • Lynette Moore
  • Nancy Fox
  • Rhonda Eagle
  • Kecia Jerome
  • Joanne T. Ferguson
  • Linda Feldman Shapiro
  • Cydnee Knoth
  • Jessica Formicola 
  • Michelle Nash
  • Mary Bostow
  • Joanne DiPaola
  • Cindy Jamieson
  • Katerina Delidimou
  • Jodie Chapman
  • Janette Fuschi
  • Kelly Page 
I sincerely hope I got everyone and want to say thank you so much for being a part of this. Many of you took time to send multiple recipes for me to choose which saved me time not having to search your blogs. And by the way if your page views went up these last few days it could be I kept forgetting to do things! 
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