Holiday Meals that are Easy on the Budget

Perhaps the best part of Thanksgiving, and other holidays, happens around the table. The gathering of family, good conversation, sharing gratitude — and of course, wonderful and bountiful food. A recent Farm Bureau survey shows that we can expect to pay at least 14% more for a traditional Thanksgiving feast this year (2021). Check below for a few tips to help you spend your dollars wisely for upcoming celebrations.

Plan carefully. Make a list of what you will need, first, and check what food and ingredients you already have on hand. Then, create your shopping list so you don’t over-buy.

Prepare less food. Let’s face it, we often have more food on the table than we really need. Consider including smaller amounts of the dishes that are more expensive and prepare fewer dishes. Make sure you keep traditional holiday foods, that are important to your family, on the menu.

Shop Smart. Once you have created a specific shopping list, stick to it! Be aware that store displays are designed to tempt you to buy things that you didn’t plan on. Compare brands and different sizes of products by using unit pricing. This will also help you save money.

Keep it simple. Often, serving dishes with fewer ingredients can be more healthful and can save time and money. For example, try this Green Bean Saute recipe as a tasty and healthy alternative to Green Bean Casserole.  

Trim cost of protein. A whole turkey is less expensive per serving than a turkey breast. Other types of meat that are less expensive include lean roast beef and pork loin. Less expensive types of fish include cod and flounder.

Rethink your drink. Water is easy on the wallet and doesn’t add empty calories like soda, energy drinks and other sweet beverages. People typically will drink less of other beverages if they can quench their thirst with water first.

Make good use of leftovers. One of the best things about a big holiday meal is wonderful leftovers. Make sure you handle food safely so it can be served as leftovers or planned overs in the days ahead. Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food. Store leftovers within two hours of cooking. Divide them into smaller portions and refrigerate in covered shallow containers so they cool quickly. Use leftovers within 3-4 days or freeze them for longer storage.

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