The holidays are an expensive time of year, what with gifts, decorations, and gas money for all those times you had to run back to the store. Enjoying a delicious holiday meal with family and friends, however, does not need to be a huge hit to your bank account. Follow some or all of these money-saving tips, and you'll still be able to enjoy your scrumptious holiday fare without cutting too heavily on the stuff that really counts.
Make some of your gift requests this year about food. You can ask for some expensive ingredients you've been wanting to try, of course, or you can ask for gift certificates to your favorite grocery store or even raw ingredients ("Mom, can you buy me a frozen turkey this year, please?"). If you have friends with gardens or farms with whom you normally exchange gifts, ask them to give them some of their products -- meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and more.
Shop the sales; buy big and freeze. Some food goes on significant sale during the holiday rushes, and if you would like to use some of the ingredients later in the year, take the opportunity to stock up. The opposite works as well: maybe there are some vegetables that are inexpensive during the summer but worth their weight in gold during the winter. In that case, buy them when they're cheap, chop them up, and freeze them in vacuum-sealed bags. You'll have pre-cut vegetables waiting for you when winter rolls around!
Don't go with traditional fare. Sure, turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and it might seem cheaper than other meats when it's on the November sales, but there's a lot of waste on a turkey carcass. Try cooking some chickens instead, or even an inexpensive cut of beef. In place of extravagant traditional desserts, bake cookies with the kids in the family and enjoy those as an after-dinner snack.
Use leftovers as the main course. Everyone knows about using turkey in sandwiches, pastas, and soups after the holidays are over, but think about it in reverse: you can use leftovers from meals prior to Thanksgiving to whip up a delicious feast. Even if you don't end up chowing down on what everyone else is eating, you can still make your taste buds happy by being mindful of using every scrap of food you buy.
Hold a potluck-style dinner with your relatives. Dole out the holiday dishes to all of your family members and hold a massive potluck-style meal, with everyone contributing an equal share of the food cost. You can even request food in place of a gift or two this year, since there are always those presents you didn't care about anyway.
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