Save $ on Holiday Meals

1. Scale back.When it comes to holiday meals, many families have a tradition of having much more food than is needed – than they can even enjoy. This year, think about: less total food, smaller portions of expensive menu items, and a smaller number of foods served.
2. Serve healthy foods.They give you more value for the dollar. For example, pumpkin or sweet potato pie is a better buy than French Silk or Pecan, because they offer more nutritional benefit (even if the cost happens to be similar). Likewise, choose a healthy green salad or fruit salad instead of gelatin-marshmallow fluff.
3. Make it yourself.This applies to just about anything: mashed potatoes, gravy, pies, bread cubes and   seasonings for stuffing, cranberry sauce, … In almost every case, it will cost more if you buy the frozen convenience food or package mix.
4. Beverages: serve water to drink along with other beverages.People will drink less of the other     beverage if they can use water to quench their thirst. Consider juice (apple juice can be inexpensive) instead of wine or other alcohol.
5. Get your money’s worth out of leftovers.Handle them safely (refrigerate or freeze promptly) so they will be used for meals in the days ahead. Don’t throw away a turkey carcass or ham bone; cook it for soup some other time.
Skip the fancy paper plates, napkins, cups and decorations.That money spent will end up in the trash. Instead, make decorations, and consider making or buying cloth napkins; they cost more in the beginning, but they pay for themselves quickly if they keep you from needing to buy special napkins for each holiday.
For more ideas to save money on holiday meals (and everyday meals too), check out “Spend Smart, Eat Smart” from ISU Extension and Outreach!
~Barb Wollan

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