Thursday, October 30, 2008

31 Things to do before Christmas - A feast on a budget

(This is #21 of 31 in the 31 Things to do series)

Have a feast on a budget

Plan your meal early so you can take advantage of sales and beat the mad shopping rush on the week of Christmas.

My typical Christmas menu is as follows:

  • Honey ham
  • Smoked turkey
  • Cornbread dressing
  • Gravy
  • Collard greens
  • Green beans
  • Rice
  • Potato salad
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pies
    • Sweet potato
    • Pecan
  • Cakes
    • Red velvet
    • Carrot
  • Iced tea

That's definitely a feast!! But I don't do it all myself. I can not make good potato salad, cornbread dressing and gravy so thankfully my Mom takes care of that for us.

How I will cut back when money is tight

I could do the entire menu listed above for about $85. Partly because the red velvet cake is a family favorite that we order from a lady that we know, and it costs $25. On a tight budget however, I could scale the menu back by baking a cake at home, and having one pie, not two. I would also have a small ham and a smoked turkey breast for half the price. The other items are pretty inexpensive to make so we won't have to cut back there. If I made these changes I could probably have a pretty comparable meal for about $50.

I would rather cut back somewhere else though than to give up the red velvet cake! I would scale back on gifts or decorations if I had to. This lady can really bake and our family looks forward to the holidays and her cakes, so we would all be in agreement that that the cake stays, something else goes!

But that's what cutting back is all about. You don't give up everything that means something to you. Give up the things that don't matter much to you so you can have the things that really do matter.

Home cooked versus Catered

I have heard that you can order some pretty good holiday dinners from certain grocery stores and restaurants. If you are looking for an easy solution and you can afford it or you simply can't cook, this might be the option for you.

I am picky about how certain foods are prepared. Also there are certain things that I am accustomed to having at Christmas dinner that you can not get at the typical restaurant. Not only that, even if they did, I know I could probably prepare it cheaper myself. So for me, in terms of preferences and budget, cooking at home is the way to go.

But you don't have to have a feast per se. And really you shouldn't cook so much food that it won't get eaten anyway. Sometimes after the big Thanksgiving feast, some people are so burnt out on food that they just have a "normal" dinner for Christmas. And that's fine, do what works for you. Just whatever you do, don't waste food and your money. If it won't get eaten don't buy it.

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