Cooking On A Budget: Planning for the Holidays

Monday, October 27, 2014

Planning for the Holidays

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In this last month I have worked with a number of food bloggers to come up with fantastic holiday recipes. The first in the series was planning your holiday gatherings to include some easy and inexpensive appetizers, side dishes, desserts and cocktails. There are so many great recipes in this collaborative collection for you to choose from and all at an affordable price. We've taken the guess work out of the approximate cost so that you can choose which recipes fit your budget!

Take a look at the post Easy and Inexpensive Holiday Fare and begin to plan out your holiday menu and side dishes and what you'll have on your dessert table and what appetizers you want to make. All of the recipes are tried and true and the favorite dishes from each of the contributing bloggers.

Most recently we all gathered to collect some family favorite cookie recipes that you can make for any Holiday Cookie Swaps or for your own family and those that make lovely gifts for this time of year. It doesn't just have to be cookies. Everyone loves home made food gifts. Use your imagination!

As I have stressed before it's important to plan ahead especially if you are on a tight food budget. Make a menu plan, a guest list, a gift giving list and some general ideas of the kind of holiday gatherings you would like to do this year. From there as far as the food goes, make a list of the menu ideas and include in that list what cookies you want to make to give as gifts or perhaps what dessert to bring as a hostess gift if you are celebrating the holiday in someone else's home.

Next, it's time for a grocery list of the items you'll need to pull off these fabulously inexpensive desserts, side dishes and appetizers or to make cookies. Keep a master list and each week check the grocery store flyer for items that are on sale from that master list. As you can and depending on your individual budget, start to chip away at that list and pick up at least one item per week, more if you are able to so you can take advantage of the reduced price.

You shop every week or maybe more than that at your favorite grocery store so remember as you are shopping to take note of the items and the prices of the items you still need but may need a large quantity of. Write down the price of the item on your grocery list if you are like me and may not remember! This is where going to a food warehouse may come in handy. Take the time to check out buying in larger quantities items like butter (which freezes well) and any other non-perishable item on your list that makes sense to purchase in bulk.

Keep checking for coupons that aren't set to expire for items you'll need. If your store has a super sale on turkeys, large chickens or hams you may want to get them on the early side and freeze them. My personal take on freezing beef is that if you freeze roasts they aren't the same, so if possible avoid freezing beef and if you just can't by pass that sale price, make sure you double wrap the meat and try not to have it in the freezer for more than two weeks.

Use your grocery store card to rack up your points. All stores have a system in place which tracks how much you spend and you end up with some sort of reward from the store. Get on the e-mailing list as we did with our store and special announcements come directly to your e-mail address. We've received special discounts for items that are not even in the weekly flyer. Most stores have a kiosk where you can print out the coupons right in the store. Take the time to check all of the coupon offers and see if there is any for products you need. I don't use all the coupons offered as sometimes you must purchase 2 or 3 of an item to get $1.00 off and it just doesn't make sense for me. You decide what's right for you.

The key points in this post are:
  • Come up with your holiday concept(s).
  • Create a menu plan.
  • Make a master grocery list.
  • Keep checking the weekly circular for deals on the items you need.
  • Sign up for a grocery store rewards card and for e-mail notices for off the circular deals.
  • Check out the food warehouses to see if it makes sense to buy in bulk.




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