If your family is like mine, then the holidays revolve around food. It is a time for sharing recipes we love with one another while we line up around the table laughing the meal away. But on top of all the money spent on holiday presents, the holiday meal adds up very quick. There is a huge difference between feeding a few people for dinner than feeding a dozen people pretty much a six-course meal.
Sporteluxe put together the list and we are checking it twice.
Set a budget and stick to it
It might seem like common sense but most people don’t actually set a budget for the festive season. If you know how much you have to work with it’ll prevent you from going overboard. Start with an overall amount and break it down into categories so you know exactly how much you’re spending and where.
Plan your menu down to the salt
Write. Everything. Down. Think about your day and the number of guests you are expecting and write a grocery list that includes everything you will need along with the exact amounts. From breakfast to dinner, and everything in between—and don’t forget drinks. Not only will this prevent you from perusing the grocery aisles (read: buying what you don’t need), it’ll ensure you haven’t forgotten anything come Christmas day when it’s too late.
Once you know exactly what you need, make sure you don’t already have it on hand. You probably have a pantry full of food that could be used if you think creatively. Planned for cous cous but have quinoa in the cupboard? Be flexible with sides that won’t detract from tradition.
Start looking out for bargains early
Although the festive season might seem like the busiest time of year, you’ve had 365 days to prepare for it. You knew it was coming. Get organized by looking for deals early and store/freeze them for the big day. Even starting your Christmas shopping early in December (as opposed to the week before) could save you a lot on the final bill.
Buy in bulk
It may seem like a lot of forethought but buying in bulk and storing what will keep for December could make a big difference. This is particularly helpful for things that you will actually use all year round, like wine and meat. Buy deli meats in large quantities and slice them yourself.
Make your own condiments
For me, cranberry sauce is Christmas. It’s strange but I love it. Perhaps for you, it’s gravy or tomato chutney that fills the festive hole. Whatever your can’t-celebrate-without Christmas item, convenience foods add up so instead of buying them, try making your own. In fact, DIY wherever possible. This includes stuffing, nibbles and more. But remember to prep prior to December 25th to save time (which is money).
Scale back on the nibbles
I’ve already admitted that my family are grazers. On Christmas day we snack a lot but it’s safe to say we’re not alone. Picking is one of the main reasons we all over-eat during the festive season. Cut back on the nibbles you have in between meals and your wallet (and scales) will thank you.
Buy “funny” fruit and vegetables
All of the major supermarkets now include a range of “imperfect” fruit and vegetables that are sold on the cheap. They may look a little odd but they taste just the same and the ugly ducklings can be up to 50% cheaper than their more fortunate siblings.
Choose seasonal produce
Not only does seasonal produce tend to taste better, it’s cheaper, too. If you’re in Australia, make a pavlova and fill it with mangoes and berries. It’s fitting for this time of year.
Make punch or opt for BYO
If you’re planning for a large number of guests, asking them to bring their own boozes is totally acceptable. Alcohol can be the most expensive item on the list (and often the largest quantity) so cutting back on this one can certainly help. If you’d like to supply some yourself, why not make a punch? It’ll make the spirits—and your guests—last longer.