5 money saving tips for awesome holiday dinners

Local mom and author of "So, You're Broke?" shares money saving tips

5 money saving tips for awesome holiday dinners

Who doesn’t love having friends and family around to enjoy a special meal together? Holiday meals bring people together. They can also bring a lot of stress and financial burden if you’re not careful. Here are five ways to save money on the meals that make your holiday season special.

1. Co-Host or Don’t Host – Unquestionably the largest financial burden falls on the person hosting the holiday dinner. If you’ve hosted for a year or more, let your family know that you’re willing to let someone else host dinner this year. You should still bring a dish or desert to contribute, but you’ll save yourself a lot of money and time by being the guest instead of the host. Offer to set up a rotating hosting schedule. You can also suggest co-hosting with a family member. For years my sister-in-law and I have co-hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it’s at her house and sometimes it’s at mine, but we usually make a day of shopping and planning the meal and we each prepare certain dishes. Plus we split the cost 50/50 which makes it way more affordable for both of our families.

READ MORE: Amazing gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies!

2. Buy Generic – My hands-down favorite money saving secret for grocery shopping is to buy generic and Aldi makes it wonderfully easy. Nearly the entire store is comprised of generic (aka store brands). The best part is that they offer a double your money back guarantee. Save a bundle on your baking supplies and find deals on specialty holiday goods like cheese platters, deserts, turkeys and hams. If you don’t have an Aldi near you, you can still save a lot of money by buying the store brands of your holiday favorites like cranberry sauce and stuffing. Your guests won’t taste the difference, but your wallet will absolutely feel the difference.

3.  Enroll In Grocery Store Holiday Promotions – A lot of stores give away a free ham, turkey or vegetarian option when you make a certain dollar amount worth of purchases within a set amount of time. If your store has one of these promotions, take advantage and snag your main dish for free. If you tend to spend a lot of money at the store, split your purchases between two store loyalty cards and get two (if you and your spouse each have your own cards this makes it easy). My neighbor gave me a free turkey a few years ago because she earned an extra one thanks to this technique. If you can’t use an extra ham or turkey you can always donate it to charity.

READ MORE: Make your own cranberry relish

4. Limit Your Side Dishes – Okay, I get that half the “holiday feast” feeling depends upon having WAY more side dishes than your typical meal. But that doesn’t mean we should go way overboard. Do you really need cornbread and rolls? By cutting a few side dishes from the menu, you can save more of your money for things like decorations and presents.

5. BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) – If you’re hosting family and friends for the holidays, why not ask each of your guests to bring one side dish or dessert. Not only does it lighten the financial burden on you, but you also get to try different dishes and spend a few less hours in the kitchen.

Are you determined to make saving money a priority? My book “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life” gives you practical and easy-to-use tips to reduce your spending that won’t leave you feeling deprived. These are the tips I used to pay off over $20,000 in debt AND build an emergency fund all while living on one income.

Have a Happy Holiday that won’t leave you broke in the New Year!

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