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How to Cook a Holiday Meal without Breaking the Bank

By , Posted on Nov 04, 2013
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Inexpensive holiday meals? Is there such a thing?  Even though the thought of the Holidays conjures up thoughts of extravagance and overindulgence, it is possible to cook a Holiday meal without breaking the bank.

Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about hotdogs and macaroni and cheese for Christmas dinner, it is possible to serve a bountiful meal while remaining frugal…  let’s take a look at a few money saving ideas on how to cook a holiday meal without breaking the bank:

—   Stock Up.  It is the beginning of November and you still have some time left before you have to start preparing the first big holiday meal, the Thanksgiving dinner.  Start picking up a few of the items you know you will need for preparing your Thanksgiving meal each time you go to the grocery store.  Look for specials or coupons for the canned or dry items that you know you will need.
The last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute and take that mile-long shopping list to the store and spend hundreds of dollars for one meal.

—   Don’t Overspend.  Don’t go shopping for food without bringing along your shopping list.  Impulse buys will run up your grocery bill faster than you think.  If you have you meal planned out in advance, and a list of the items you will need to prepare it, you can avoid the over-spending trap at the grocery store.

—   Portions. Take into consideration just how many people you plan on have at the meal and base the amount of food you prepare on that.  While leftovers are nice after a big holiday meal, chances are you end up throwing away most of them.

—   Smart Choices.  Make smart choices when it comes to the menu for the holiday meal.  Stick to the traditional dishes… turkey, dressing, potatoes, some vegetables, that green-bean casserole pumpkin pie, etc. Stay away from exotic dishes or menu items that are out of your skill set.  One tip for the turkey – If the majority of your guests prefer white meat, skip preparing the traditional big turkey, instead opt for a smaller, less expensive turkey breast.

—   Potluck. As long as you give your guests enough advance warning, have everyone bring a dish to the Holiday meal.  This will save you a considerable amount of money and it is likely that everyone will have at least one dish that you know they will like.

—   Plan the event according to your budget, not the other way around. “You can’t always get what you want” is not just a great song by the Rolling Stones, it is an expression that applies to planning your holiday meals as well.  Sure, you want something really elegant, but your wallet doesn’t. Instead of preparing everything you want and overspending, find ways to compromise. You may find that it makes good financial sense to spend a little more on the entree and come up with less expensive appetizers and side dishes to make up the difference.

The holidays are traditionally the most expensive time of the year. Between travel, gifts, decorations and holiday dinners, it is real easy to get in over your head financially and rack up unwanted debt.  Just one holiday meal can set you back as much, or sometimes more, than a week of regular groceries.

The holidays don’t have to be expensive…  if you keep things simple and plan ahead, and follow these simple steps you can cook a holiday meal without breaking the bank.

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