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Elegant Christmas Dinner on a Dime

Christmas dinner has always been a special event in my family. Now, with constant penny-pinching amidst our sad economy, I have to watch how much I spend on my holiday dinner ingredients. Here are some ideas I put together to help you save money this Christmas.

1. Plan ahead. If at all possible, start planning your Christmas menu well beforehand. For example, I began writing out my meal plan and ingredient list in October, when many of my local grocery stores started running sales on pantry staples, canned goods and baking items, usually on stuff that I needed for my holiday menu. I also used coupons in the newspaper inserts that come out in the weeks before Thanksgiving to further save money.

2. Throw a potluck Christmas dinner. If you’re having friends and family over for the holiday meal, ask each relative/friend to bring their favorite potluck dish. Offer to provide the main dish (ham, turkey, goose, etc.) and have your guests bring the rest!

3. Switch it up. If you normally bake a ham for your Christmas dinner, as I do, but hams are too expensive, why not cook a turkey or goose instead? Turkeys are usually much cheaper than hams. Check your local grocery stores for prices and decide if a turkey (or goose, or even a beef roast) is less expensive for your dinner.

4. The Dollar Store is your friend! I know, it might seem tacky to shop for your Christmas dinner at a Dollar Store, but with the array of food items they now have, just can get everything from stuffing, stock and broth (which is a bargain, since most store brands are still almost $3 per box), dry herbs and baking spices, even glasses and other decorations for your table. If you have a Big Lots store nearby, that’s even better. They have a much larger variety of food items available, as well as a large inventory of candles, decorations, ornaments and gift items.

5. Use price-comparison sites on the Internet. There are many websites out there that allow you to price check grocery items at your local supermarket, so you can make sure you’re getting the best prices on your Christmas menu ingredients. A few to try are www.mygrocerydeals.com and www.groceryguide.com.

6. Take a look in your pantry before shopping. Always check your pantry, freezer and refrigerator before making up your Christmas meal menu. This idea will keep you from buying duplicates and wasting money on items you already have in stock.

7. Use leftovers when preparing meals before the big Christmas dinner. Don’t try to make elaborate meals in the days before your Christmas dinner plans. Try to use up leftovers already in your refrigerator, to prepare for the mounds of food you’ll have to store in there for the holiday meal. Not only does this free up space, but it makes you use up those leftover scraps in the ‘fridge so you’ll have room for later.

8. Shop grocery stores the day after Thanksgiving. Many grocery stores run awesome deals on items such as turkey, bread, canned items and other Thanksgiving/holiday staples. You can buy a whole frozen turkey for only 29-cents a pound in some areas. Stock up on things you know you’ll need for your Christmas dinner.

9. Use your slow cooker! This not only saves you time but saves on your electric bill as well. You can make stuffing (or dressing, however you say it) in the slow cooker, plus green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, decadent Slow Cooker Potatoes (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Cooker-Mashed-Potatoes/Detail.aspx) and even beverages like spiced apple cider or mulled wine. Search the Internet for a ton of recipes to use for your holiday meal in the slow cooker.

10. Use your holiday leftovers so they won’t go to waste. Throwing away all that leftover Christmas food is just like throwing away all that money you saved when buying it! Use these ideas on how to use up the leftovers that your family will actually eat:

A. Turkey, ham or roast beef- Use these leftovers in pot pies, quiches, sandwiches and wraps, stews and chowders, noodle soups, chili and even put slices of the meat into your freezer for future use in recipes.

B. Mashed potatoes- Mix some flour and onion powder in with your leftover mashed spuds. Fry up in some oil or butter for potato pancakes.

C. Stuffing/dressing- The remnants of this dish can be used to stuff mushrooms for a snack or appetizer. Also, you can mix it up with some eggs for an omelet or scrambled eggs.

D. Cranberry sauce- If you have any jelly or canning jars, spoon the remainder of this condiment inside and close tightly. Store in the refrigerator to use for breakfast in oatmeal, or to add to casseroles.

E. Green bean casserole- Use this in turkey potpies. Also, scoop into portabella mushroom caps and bake for a light entrée or appetizer.

F. Sweet potato casserole- Layer leftovers in a trifle dish (or in small dessert dishes) with leftover whipped cream and crumbled cookies or gingersnaps for an easy leftover dessert.

G. Brussels sprouts- Here is an easy skillet meal to use up your leftover sprouts: cut up some kielbasa (or other smoked sausage you have on hand), slice some mild onion and all these and the leftover veggie to a skillet coated with oil or cooking spray. Season as desired and serve with rice or noodles.

These tips have helped my Christmas dinner budget immensely. Hopefully you can try some of these ideas and create a frugal, yet elegant Christmas dinner for your own family.

I am a SAHM to a busy, beautiful toddler, married for 11 years to my high school sweetheart. I enjoy writing articles to help others save money and juggle a busy family-life. Check out my site with more money-saving articles: http://kristinawyatt.weebly.com/.


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