When we think of holiday eating, we often think of the strain the extra calories puts on our waistbands, but what about the strain on our wallets? With additional goodies, gift giving, entertaining and eating out, eating this time of year can be expensive. Here are a few tips to keep your food budget in check while enjoy the flavors of the season.
1. Go potluck when entertaining. Instead of spending $50-60 dollars throwing a lavish dinner party yourself, farm out some of the dishes and save your favorites to make yourself. You can easily trim the cost of the evening down by half.
2. Keep eating out occasional. There are all sorts of opportunities to eat out this time of year. Take a look at your event schedule and make an eating out plan for some, but not all events. Make an effort to reprogram your thinking. Just because you’re out shopping, or looking at the lights, doesn’t require an expensive meal out.
3. Be restaurant savvy. Restaurants generally have a big markup on non-alcoholic drinks and items such as pasta, pizza and dessert. When you do eat out, drink water, and skip dessert. Split your order and take half home to enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day or two.
4. Plan your leftovers in to your weekly menu. For example, If you’re having a large family dinner and cooking a roast, plan to use the leftover beef in a beef and barley soup, or for BBQ beef sliders. Take stock of your fridge and freezer and work those items into your menu before they liquefy in your veggie drawer or taste like freezer burn. We hang on to and freeze leftovers with the best intentions. Now is the season to feast on those intentions.
5. Shop seasonal. A flourless chocolate cake topped with raspberries might seem festive, but you’re better off making a cranberry cake than spending a fortune on out of season produce. Sautéed root veggies instead of fresh asparagus, citrus and apples instead of berries and tropical fruit are other examples of enjoying the flavors of the season while saving your pocketbook.
The key is planning ahead and sticking with your plan. Not only will this prevent going overboard on your spending, but on your calorie intake as well.