5 Inexpensive Ways to Create the Ultimate Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner on a Budget
It’s that time of year again – the expectation of a delectable Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. Hosts can do more than watch grocery store deals on turkey and ham, use reward points or pool resources by shopping with family members or friends to save money.
Here are some tips if you are on a tight budget from MyBankTracker.com, a comparison site that educates consumers on personal finance.
1. Budget and plan a menu
Estimate how many guests will attend and who will bring a dish. Set a budget and break that down to cost per serving(s). Then you can start looking at recipes to see what you can afford.
2. MacGyver your meals and improvise or substitute
Don’t buy an expensive ingredient just because a recipe calls for it. Look for a substitute. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of wine and you won’t drink the rest, substitute with diluted vinegar (use twice as much water), lemon juice or tart juice. Mayo, sour cream and yogurt are almost interchangeable, so shop the sales. This works for dips, dressings, quiches and casseroles.
3. Price out each ingredient in the recipe before heading to the store
Make sure to review all ingredients before buying. You’ll avoid getting to the last one to find out it costs $25, like truffle oil, salmon roe, crème fraiche, confit, etc. Don’t drain your budget on full-price cheese, bacon or other ingredients. If items in a recipe aren’t on sale – find something else to make.
4. Check your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets
Eggs are inexpensive and can make a hearty, savory quiche, egg pie or bake that is appealing to the eye and can include seasonal vegetables. Leftovers reheat well and can be frozen. Take a look at what you have in the freezer and the back of the cabinet. Frozen broccoli, sausage, cured meats, corn, quinoa, raisins or prunes can taste fantastic in stuffing.
5. Stick to seasonal vegetables and experiment
Seasonal vegetables don’t have to be shipped as far and tend to be inexpensive. We all know about corn, cranberries, and pumpkins, but others include mushrooms, okra, cabbage, kohlrabi and root vegetables like turnips, beets, rutabagas and parsnips. Experiment with these and others like tomatillos or fennel.