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Saving Money on Holiday Meals

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The concept of frugal holiday meals may sound like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t as impossible as it may seem.

Even though holiday meals express the great value of abundance, you can still avoid stretching your finances beyond their capabilities.

How Can It Be Done?

There’s nothing stopping you from serving up delicious holiday meals without destroying your budget in the process. The key to saving money on holiday meals is planning and forethought. When you put time and effort into planning your holiday meals, the results are nearly always positive.

Follow these strategies to save money on your holiday meals this year:

1. Consider your portions

Consider your guest list to ensure that your portions match how many people will be eating. Limit waste by only buying and cooking what your guests will actually eat. If you want to have generous leftovers, simply figure them into the math as well.

2. Remember the leftovers

Plan out your leftovers so you use them effectively and nothing goes to waste. Package your leftovers in portions sized for meals and store them based on when you plan to serve them. Meat and many side dishes can be frozen, so consider how you will use your leftovers to promote frugality and prevent waste.

3. Know when to shop

The day after Thanksgiving is ideal for stocking up, especially if you plan a repeat performance for Christmas. Turkeys, hams, and many of the fixings from Thanksgiving will be available at a steep discount the day after the holiday. Stock up on anything that you can freeze or store to cut down significantly on Christmas holiday meals.

Turkeys often go on sale for as little as 25% of their original price, and hams are often sold in a similar fashion. If you plan to cook something similar for Christmas, make some room in your freezer and take advantage of this sale to cut costs for your upcoming holiday meal.

4. Know which conveniences matter

Some conveniences are worthwhile and will save you money while others will not. Canned sweet potatoes cost less than fresh, for example. Pre-baked rolls are often less expensive than making your own during the holiday season. Plan ahead to learn which convenience items will help you save money in the long run.

5. Cook from scratch

When it’s possible to do so, cook from scratch. Stuffing and gravy are two staples that you can create at home more cheaply than you can buy them. Boxed mashed potatoes are cheap, but the real thing costs even less and tends to store well.

  • Start on your stuffing ahead of time, since you can use the heels from bread loafs or leftover stale sandwich bread. Let the bread dry out on a cookie sheet and you can use it as breadcrumbs in your homemade stuffing.
  • Your guests will appreciate your from-scratch cooking.


Holiday meals are meant to be enjoyable. You and your guests will enjoy the meal all the more when you’re not stressed out over the cost. Plan ahead, cut costs where you can, and have a wonderful holiday meal that fits within your budget.

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