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Budget Friendly Christmas Dinner? Here’s how.

Dec 9, 2021 | Personal Finance

The holidays are a great excuse to spend time with friends and family, give and receive gifts, and indulge in those seasonal treats and main courses you don’t normally think about the rest of the year. But straight up, Christmas dinner is one of the biggest high-ticket items for most families during the holidays. So, managing a budget friendly Christmas dinner just makes the holidays even more enjoyable.

Is There a Way to Have a Budget Friendly Christmas Dinner?

Sure. A little planning can help keep the costs down to something manageable. Here are a few suggestions to help you set a budget and stick to it.

Plan the Menu

It’s not unusual to want to have all of those holiday favorites for Christmas dinner. You only get them once a year, so why not indulge yourself?

Because that can get costly, and the point is to keep your costs down, especially since the price of food has been on a steady climb and shows no signs of stopping.

You can try something different, something traditional, or a favorite dish for every member of the family, but you need to write it down in advance, and then you need to look at what ingredients you’ll need. If it feels like it’s already getting out of hand, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to cut the list. Most of the time, some dishes are barely even touched. This is going to leave you with leftovers that probably won’t get touched either, and you’ll only end up throwing them out. 

The Menu is Planned, Now Make a Shopping List

And stick to it. The supermarket can be a dangerous place to venture around the holidays, what with all the bright displays, the siren call of snacks, not to mention sales and promotional offers, but you have a list in your hand and you need to stick to it. If you aren’t getting a lot, you might be better off using a basket instead of a cart, to limit your impulse buying. 

Are There Coupons?

Use them. You don’t have to wait for the Sunday paper anymore, you can find e-coupons and sales at MLC Coupons. Just load them to your phone and use them at checkout. Also, consider paying with a credit card that rewards you with cash back.

And consider buying in advance those things that won’t spoil. You’ve probably seen shortages on the shelves, from food to electronics to kids’ toys. Factor in a big holiday, and buying ahead doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. 

Make it or Buy it?

Most supermarkets offer a full Christmas dinner with all the fixings, already made. All you need to do is take it home and heat it. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? But if you’re serious about saving money on your festive meal — just remind yourself what you spend on presents and you’ll swing back around to keeping this inexpensive — you’ll want to make it yourself.

Sure, you may find a couple of sale items in the deli or bakery that you couldn’t make at home for that cost. And if there are certain special dietary requirements — diabetic, dialysis, etc. — then a pre-made meal may be best, but otherwise, you’ll save more by doing it yourself.

Also, are you having family and friends in, or is it just for your immediate people? If that’s not a big number, consider getting a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. There’s just so many times you can eat turkey sandwiches and turkey hash before you end up throwing out the leftovers. By getting only the breast, you’ll cut down on your initial cost as well as not wasting food.

Make it Ahead

There are several dishes you can make before the big day — pies, cookies, gravy, cakes, bread — and leave yourself more time to focus on the big dishes of the day. Just make sure you give the turkey plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator.


Is there any reason your guests can’t bring their own contribution to the meal?

Aunt Betty makes a killer green bean casserole, your sister’s stuffing is an old family recipe, and nobody’s ever topped your mom’s pumpkin pecan pie. So, why not ask them each to bring their favorite dish? It takes the financial burden off of you, as well as the stress of making everything and timing it all to be done by 4 p.m. Just make sure you coordinate with your guests about who’s bringing what, or you’re going to end up with a lot of butter noodles.

The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional financial advice. You should consult a credit counseling professional concerning the information provided and what should work best in your financial situation. And any action on your part in response to the information provided is at your discretion.

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