Tips for low-cost holiday meals
It doesn’t take long for you to realize when you are in the grocery store to see that food prices are on the rise. Grocery prices have risen 23 percent over this time last year. Economist tell us that these prices are here to stay. So, here are a few budget friendly tips to help save money on holiday meals.
• Plan your menu carefully. Check what food and ingredients you already have and then make your shopping list. Look at online and print grocery store ads. Using MyPlate as a guide to plan your holiday meals can be helpful.
• Prepare less. Think about having less food. This could include less of the expensive items and a smaller number of dishes served. However, consider keeping the holiday foods important to your family traditions on the menu.
• Trim protein costs. A whole turkey is less expensive per serving than a turkey breast. Lean roast beef, pork loin and some types of fish, such as cod or flounder, are lower cost options. Consider serving soup or a casserole that can extend your protein dollar.
• Serve it simple. Sometimes serving dishes with less ingredients can be healthier, as well as save time and money.
• Shop smart. Beware of store displays that are designed to tempt you to buy things you didn’t plan on purchasing. Use unit pricing to help compare different brands and different sizes of products can help you save money.
• Cook ahead. Instead of purchasing some of the more expensive convenience items, many of your dishes can be prepared or partially prepared a day or two in advance: roasting a turkey, cranberry relish, cube and dry bread for stuffing, and pre-prep vegetables for salads and casseroles.
• Make smart beverage choices. Water is easy on the wallet and people typically will drink less of the other beverages if they can use water to quench their thirst. Regular soda, energy or sports drinks, and other sweet drinks can be expensive and usually contain a lot of added sugar.
• Get your money’s worth of leftovers. Handle leftover safely so that they can be used for meals in the days ahead. Always wash hands with soap and water before handling food. Leftovers should be stored within two hours of cooking. Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate in covered shallow containers so they cool quickly. Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days for freeze for longer storage.