How to Keep Your Holiday Meal Under Budget

With unemployment rates at record highs and money not growing on trees, celebrating the holidays on a budget is the goal of most Americans.

One of the biggest expenses of holiday celebrations is the cost of food. Generally, the turkey is the biggest expense of the meal. However by making some swaps here and there you and yours can still enjoy the holidays on a limited budget.

If the bird is the guest of honor during your holiday feast, then budget accordingly. Wal-Mart is offering 12 pound gobblers for $5 (40 cents a pound).

That price may fluctuate based on where you buy your bird and the special characteristics it may have. (Kosher, free range, organic, etc.) the price could exceed $5 a pound. Buying your turkey directly from a supermarket and not a gourmet store will get you the best value. Some other holiday shopping tips include:

Buy Seasonal Produce

Asparagus is tasty,  but its peak season is spring and the current pricing reflects that. Brussels sprouts peak season is November making the veggie much more affordable.

Cost: Asparagus $4.99 per pound vs. Brussels sprouts $1.99 per pound

Fresh Mashed Potatoes

Instant mashed potatoes may seem like a great time saver but for nearly $3 a box, it is not worth it. Take the time to make it fresh and by keeping your eye on the grocery circulars by the time you start shopping for your feast, you are more then likely to score a 5-pound bag for a steal.

Cost: Instant mashed potatoes (16 oz) $3 vs. of fresh mashed potatoes  (16 oz) $1 ( potatoes, milk, butter, salt)

DIY Crust

No thanksgiving is complete without a delicious pie for dessert. Whether you want pumpkin, apple or berry pie, crust can be easily and affordably made out of pantry staples (flour, butter, sugar and water).

Cost: Ready made pie crust $3-$6 vs. freshly made dough 75 cents (enough for two shells or a top and bottom)

When it comes to budgeting for a tasty holiday feast:

  • Properly count the number of attendees to your feast, add one more (just in case) and multiply it by how much you would like to spend per person. So ten guests times $10 gives you a $100 budget. Then stick to it.
  • Write out  your menu plan and shop your cupboards first. You may have already stowed away some canned corn or pumpkin during last years season
  • Clip coupons and watch. Competition for consumer dollars is fierce and the closer to the holiday you get, the more bargains you can find
  • Take advantage of your guests offers to bring something. Nearly everyone has a family favorite they would be more then willing to bring to your feast. Go ahead and ask as the more the merrier, especially when it comes to good eating.