Holiday Food Budgeting

A big part of the holidays is special meals and snacks.  Everyone seems to have favorite foods that they associate with holiday time. Buying the ingredients for holiday meals may mean a big jump in your food bill.   Here are some ways to help you serve your family’s favorite holiday foods without spending too much.

1.  Prepare less food.  
Many people eat too much during the holidays.  When you plan meals, think about cutting back on some of the extras. You can save money by preparing fewer foods, serving smaller portions of meat, and focusing more on vegetables and other side dishes.

2.  Plan to use leftovers.
As you are planning meals for the holidays, think about how you can make the best use of leftovers.  Leftovers are a real budget-saver.  Look for simple recipes you haven’t tried before to keep meals interesting

3.  Be a well-prepared shopper.
Before going to the grocery store, check your cabinets to see what you already have.  Read the grocery ads to learn what is on sale, make a grocery list and stick to it.   Use coupons for foods you are sure you will use.

4.  Serve water as well as other beverages.
Family members and friends will drink fewer more expensive beverages if water is available.  Drinking water also will help cut calories!

5.  Use fewer paper products.
No need to use paper tablecloths and napkins.   Paper plates, glasses, and cups are an unnecessary expense, too.  Use plates and glasses and have family members help wash the dishes.  You will be helping to protect the environment, too!

6.  Invite your guests to a potluck meal.
Ask your guests to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert. Potluck meals can be delicious and certainly can lower the cost of holiday meals.  Having everyone contribute also reduces time and energy you would normally spend in preparing for the meal.
The most important thing about the holidays is not about serving expensive foods.  It is about spending time with family and friends. 
 Adapted from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall