So it’s your year to host Christmas dinner. You’re about to have dozens of family members that you only see at the holidays into your home and you have to feed them all. All while also buying gifts for everyone. It’s an expensive time of year, but it doesn’t have to be if you budget yourself. You can make a fabulous Christmas dinner for your family on the cheap if you just follow these ten simple steps.
1. Watch the flyers. Most stores around the holidays will offer you a free ham or turkey if you spend a certain amount of money during a certain time frame. Many times they don’t even require you to do it in one trip. So just your regular weekly grocery shopping can earn you a free turkey or ham.
2. Make it from scratch. More often than not preparing it yourself will save you money. Now we know, you’re thinking, “but I don’t have time.” Really, though, boiling potatoes and mashing them up can be done while doing other things. You can make them ahead and freeze them even. Just don’t forget to take them out ahead of time to thaw.
3. Look for in-season vegetables. Fresh is cheaper than canned. Frozen is also cheaper than canned, but a little pricier than fresh. As long as they are in season, you can get a good price and save yourself some money.
4. Make your own desserts. Pre-made crusts are not that expensive and with a few apples and seasoning you can make an apple pie overflowing with apples for around $5, as opposed to $15 for a not as fresh store-bought pie. You do the math!
5. Save money on the drinks – Wine in particular. You don’t have to be all about the good stuff. You can start out plying them with the good stuff and switch to the cheap stuff once your guests have loosened up a bit. They likely won’t notice. Store brand soda isn’t going to get you barred from ever serving Christmas dinner again either.
6. Know exactly how many guests are coming. Having a head count will help you to not over buy.
7. And since you know exactly how many people are coming, you can cook enough food for your guests. Don’t plan for leftovers and sending people home with food. While that’s nice and all, many times people are traveling and can’t take the food anyways and you’re just left with this huge amount of leftovers that you can’t possibly finish.
The general rule of thumb for turkey is figure two pounds for every person. So if you’re having eight guests, then a 16-pound turkey should feed everyone nicely. This is also assuming you’re not making a ham or other meat along with it. If you will have a lot of small children, then they will also probably eat about half that weight in meat.
8. Keep it simple. There’s no sense in having a million dishes. While you might want to please everyone, sticking to the basics is best. If at all possible, have one meat, one starch, and one vegetable. You will appreciate the ease in only having to cook three things on the big day. Your pocket book will appreciate it too.
9. Make your list and check it twice. Okay, not really; you’re not Santa Claus, but you should stick to your list. No impulse buying, just get what you absolutely need – nothing more nothing less.
10. Encourage guests to bring a portion of the meal. If someone is extra good at desserts, then let that family member handle it. Most of your guests will ask if they can bring something, so take advantage of that. Have a list of possible things you’d like someone else to pick up for you. This could be rolls, drinks, ice, or whatever will make it easier for you.
Are you ready to enjoy the holidays with your family now? No need to break the bank to have a great Christmas dinner with everyone. Just shop smart and you can save not only lots of headaches, but lots of dough as well. Merry Christmas!