November: Holiday Months: Planning A Low Cost Holiday Meal

By Lindsay Hornell, BSW, B.A., and Emily Koeppel, B.A., Graduate Research Assistants
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University

Holiday Meal

If you plan on hosting a family meal this holiday season, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukah, such a meal can often be pricey. With these helpful tips, it is easy to have a great holiday meal on a budget.

  • Stick to the basics. Preparing a Holiday meal is not the best time to experiment with new recipes. Instead, stick to the classics like turkey, ham, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
  • Choose recipes with the fewest ingredients to cut down on the cost of the meal. There are several recipes available that use different spices to boost flavor but keep the recipe short and simple.
  • Instead of buying pricey decorations from the store to decorate your table and house, go outside with your grandchildren and collect natural elements. Look for acorns, sticks, pinecones, gold and red leaves, cranberries, etc. Arrange these items in a clear vase as an easy and affordable center piece.
  • Think about the ages of those you will be cooking for. Teenagers can often eat seemingly without ever getting full, whereas toddlers might not eat much at all.
  • Are there items you can borrow from friends or relatives? Instead of having to purchase cookware, dishes, or extra chairs try to borrow these items to cut down on cost and allow for most of your budget to go to the food
  • Make sure the meal is planned at least a week ahead of time and make a specific grocery shopping list. Shopping lists help decrease the amount of impulse buys in the grocery store.
  • Try couponing. Set aside time every Sunday to flip through the newspaper looking for coupons you can use towards your meal.
  • Because one of the best things about the Holidays is family, ask your guests to bring a favorite family dessert or a side dish made from an old family recipe. This way, everyone can enjoy a variety of family dishes and you do not have to provide all of the sides for the meal. If you want, make this a topic of discussion during the meal and ask everyone to explain where the recipe came from and why it's their favorite.

Remember, the Holidays are about spending time with those you love, so don't let yourself get stressed out about planning the perfect meal. Try these budget friendly recipes this Holiday:

Basic Bread Stuffing
Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Easy Pumpkin Pie