10 Easy Ways to Have Christmas Dinner on a Budget
Christmas dinner is a huge affair for many families. It can also end up being a bit pricey. With all of the meat, side dishes, and desserts, it can definitely take a toll on your holiday budget.
You’ve already spent money on Christmas presents and other holiday expenses, so keeping the cost of your meal down is important for a stress-free Christmas. The following tips will help you save on a budget Christmas dinner.
- Pro tip: Want more money-saving ideas for Christmas? See How to Do Christmas on a Budget.
1. CREATE YOUR FOOD BUDGET FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER
During the holidays, it’s easy to remember to create a budget for the gifts, but what about the Christmas food? Determine how much you can afford to spend on special holiday season meals, then stick to your budget as you make your Christmas menu. Make sure you also use cash to pay for your purchases so you don’t overspend.
2. SAVE YOUR BUDGET BY SKIPPING THE HIGH-END MEAT
Sure, a prime rib roast or a Honey Baked Ham might be heavenly. But a nice smaller ham, ham steaks, or a turkey breast might be more budget-friendly. The meat doesn’t have to be elaborate to make for a wonderful meal. This is such a simple way to save money on your Christmas dinner. For more budget-friendly meal ideas, check out How to Do Christmas on a Budget.
3. DIVIDE AND CONQUER
This tip helps not only save your Christmas budget. It also saves time and reduces holiday stress. Ask family members coming to dinner to bring one of the side dishes or entrees with them. You can have one person bring a sweet potato casserole, another some homemade cranberry sauce, and someone else the green bean casserole. By having your guests help, they’ll feel more like they’re involved in the meal, and you won’t spend your time (or money) in the kitchen on Christmas Day.
4. DON’T GO OVERBOARD WITH CHRISTMAS DINNER
Make sure you know exactly how many guests will be attending your Christmas dinner. There’s a difference in the amount of food you’ll need for five people versus eight. Frugal habits include not wasting food. By cooking too much food, you not only waste time, you can also waste money by having leftovers that never get eaten.
5. CREATE A GROCERY SHOPPING LIST
In keeping with good money habits, you’ll need a shopping list. Take extra time to check your grocery store coupon matchups, so you can really stretch your budget. Watch the store ads for their “loss leaders” (these are items on the covers that are usually priced below retail in order to get you into their store to shop). And compare costs to see if you could save by shopping at a warehouse club during the Christmas season.
6. SAVE MONEY BY SKIPPING THE FANCY DECOR
No one will notice if you have a $75 floral arrangement in the center of your Christmas table. Opt for less-expensive holiday decor, such as paper snowflakes on the table, a sprig of garland spotted with ornaments, or even small presents from beneath your Christmas tree.
Another unique idea for using DIY Christmas decor is to take a regular balloon, fill it with water and freeze it. Once it’s frozen, cut away the balloon and place the “ice ball” in a crystal bowl and set it on your table. Use candlesticks or other items to vary the height and fill balloons in different amounts. Your festive feast decorations cost you nothing but those few balloons.
7. COOK CHRISTMAS DINNER FROM SCRATCH
It might take more work, but using a time-honored Christmas dinner recipe can save you money. When you buy convenience foods, the costs can truly add up.
8. SHOP AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS DINNER INGREDIENTS
Plan your menu right around Thanksgiving. Then, as sales come up throughout the month of December, you can buy the items you need on sale. This helps you tackle your list over time and ensures you get the lowest price possible on everything you need to make a delicious Christmas meal.
9. CHECK YOUR PANTRY BEFORE YOU SHOP
It’s easy to make a grocery list of each ingredient you think you need for your Christmas dinner on a budget. However, you might find that you already have many of the ingredients on hand! Look in your pantry, fridge, and freezer to make note of what you don’t need to purchase to keep your holiday spending in check.
10. PUT YOUR CHRISTMAS DINNER LEFTOVERS TO WORK
Use up all of your leftovers to make additional dinners and/or lunches for the following week. You can use turkey to make turkey and noodles, leftover ham for scalloped potatoes and ham, and potatoes for potato soup. (You can even upcycle your potatoes for a fun craft project with your kids!) Take a look on Pinterest to find all sorts of amazing ways to use up your leftovers.
The important thing about Christmas is just being with people you care about. The food, decorations, and falling snow really don’t matter in the grand scheme of it all.