The Holidays are a great time to gather with family and of course eat great meals! But do you find yourself amazed at how much you actually spend at the grocery store around the holidays?
While it's great to have good food with the ones you love on Thanksgiving and Christmas, you should take care to not overspend your budget. Remember, you have to save some money to buy holiday gifts too.
Do the holiday meals wreck your budget each year? If so see my tips below.
1. Check your pantry first – inventory what you have
When planning your meals, it's good to factor in what you already have in your pantry. Taking inventory of what you already have can potentially be your biggest money saver. I use the holidays as a time to inventory the contents of my pantry and also note expiration dates. This is good to do, since you will want to use the items nearing expiration first. Once you plan your menu, be sure to compare the ingredients to the items you already have. This is important so you do not end up purchasing duplicates.
2. Create a shopping list – and stick to it
Once you have mapped out your menu, you should have a list of all the ingredients you will need. Your menu should track to a budget you have set for the meal, and your list of the ingredients includes items that match your budget. Deviating from your shopping list will result in you making unnecessary purchases and going over budget.
3. Compare prices and use cash back apps
Compare prices from different supermarkets in your area when going after some of the bigger ticket items. Now nobody want to run all around town to do their shopping, but you may find it's worth your while to hit a few stores to cut down on cost. Also be sure to use any digital coupons that match up with the items on your list. Most stores have apps that you can link to your loyalty card that make it very easy to get prices and clip coupons digitally.
Also be sure to check out your cash back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51. See what items are listed there that can give you additional money back on the items you will purchase. Many times you maximize the cash back by deviating from one brand to another to take advantage of offers listed that week. So it's important to also take that into account before you shop.
4. Shop early while you maximize on good deals
Don’t leave your shopping to the last minute; shop before the crowds hit the stores. Waiting till the last minute could result in you losing out on good deals. It’ll also force you to buy items without an option – you will end up with the items that are left regardless of the cost and condition. Don't get caught in a scenario where you have no choice.
5. Buy what's in season
In-season produce is usually less expensive because stores have so much of it. November and December in-season produce includes items like pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, cranberries, pears, oranges, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms. Be sure to stick to menu items that include these types of produce.
6. Make it a potluck
No one said you should do all the work! You can be responsible for main dishes or the proteins. Ask your guests to bring their favorite side dish, vegetable or dessert. Believe it or not, guests like to help out and contribute.
7. Limit the drink variety and minimize desserts
Create a signature drink that goes well with the occasion and avoid having variety of beer, wine and liquor. For example, you can make a drink made of Pumpkin Spice Vodka. Also if you feel like you do need a little variety, it's not unreasonable to ask your guests to bring their favorite drink.
When it comes to desserts, stick to basics based on the occasion. Who doesn’t love apple pie and vanilla ice cream? Holidays are also a great time to enjoy pumpkin pies and they fit in well with the budget.