Holiday feasts are something that most of us look forward to every year. Some people even save room in their stomachs all day for the big meal. While this meal that is anticipated for all year long can be filling and fun with our loved ones, it can also cost a bit of money if you will be hosting extra guests. Here are some ways to save money on a holiday meal that will help your budget last longer.
Be strategic about buying your turkey or ham
Most stores run specials on turkey this time of year and they range from a totally free turkey with a minimum purchase to great deals per pound. Look at the fine print on free turkey deals and make sure you price match and compare as stores are really competitive on this.
Purchase a turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas
I’m not a big turkey eater, meaning, I like it, but it’s just not worth it to cook one for our small family. I end up paying $30 for a ham when I could be getting a turkey for free using my stores’ free turkey with minimum purchase policy. I end up donating the turkey and buying a ham. Not the best scenario to save money, so if you don’t have to have ham for Thanksgiving, don’t!
Keep your menu simple
It really isn’t necessary to have 3 different kinds of pie, several kinds of salads or 2 different kinds of meat. The simpler your menu is, the cheaper it will be and you will spend less time preparing as well. Generally our Thanksgiving consists of a very simple meal plan that we love: Ham (omit for turkey to save money), rolls, pie, cranberry sauce, olives for little fingers, mashed potatoes, and string beans & bacon.
Know where to get farm fresh meats at discounted prices
In my 3 Biggest Tricks to Save Money on Meat article, I shared the biggest tips to getting quality meat at a fraction of the price. One of the ways to do this is by purchasing from Zaycon Foods. They are a farm fresh, hormone-free meat company and have WAY better quality meat than any store in my area. According to Good Morning America, you can save $600/year on your meat purchases by purchasing through them. To give you an idea of pricing, skinless boneless chicken breast is usually $1.89/lb and hamburger is $4.49/lb for 93/7 lean meat….and yes, they do have fully cooked ham! It is lip-smacking delicious without all the work!
Shop early for Thanksgiving
During the month of October and November you will start seeing a lot of great prices on holiday meal staples. Things like olives, cranberry sauce, and stuffing will be at it’s all time low. Stock up when they are on sale, but also go a step further. Buy enough for your family for BOTH holidays, because usually those same foods are NOT on sale come Christmas time! Things like the above mentioned items are super simple to store in your pantry and won’t expire before Christmas. Now, I tried that once with a pumpkin pie, but it didn’t last. No willpower I tell ya! No willpower. 🙂
Consider a potluck
If you are having a large family gathering, consider turning it into a potluck style meal. This way, you will only be responsible for the main course and everyone gets to have their favorites without having to make sure special requests get filled.
Check to see what you already have on hand
You may already have some of the ingredients in your own pantry such as chicken broth, string beans, and baking supplies. See what you already have before you go to the store and buy duplicates.
Make dishes with foods that are in-season
This is usually done anyway as squash and pumpkin are in season during this time, but swap out some other ingredients for ones that are at their best price such as broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
Both manufacturers and stores start pumping out loads of coupons this time of year for baking supplies, produce, frozen foods, and even turkey! Check to see what is available before you do your shopping. Even if you aren’t an avid couponer, you can easily use $15 worth of coupons for your meal getting the cost out of pocket much lower.
Have a plan for leftovers
Many people end up throwing away so much after the holiday meal is over and their guests have taken home what they want. Make a list of dishes that you can make with holiday leftovers so you are not wasting money in the trash. You should also utilize your entire turkey. You can use the carcass to make stock that you can freeze for soups, gravies, and more! Likewise, if you have way too much food leftover, think of ways you can freeze those same foods for Christmas. Things like rolls and mashed potatoes are really easy to freeze.
Cook only as much as you can reasonably eat
Another way to save money is to plan to not have any leftovers at all. If you only buy what you need for the meal, you won’t waste much at all, if anything.
Shop the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas dinner
Most of the holiday food we love goes on sale right after Thanksgiving. This is a great time to snag good deals for the meal that is just about a month away and for next year’s feast (if the items are non-perishable, of course).
What are your favorite ways to save money on a holiday meal?
This post was underwritten by Zaycon Foods.