The holidays are here and with all the fa-la-la-la-la comes presents, big meals, cookie exchanges, Christmas outfits and all the trimmings. Staying in budget for the holidays is tough, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you that has freed up my money to be able to give without having to compromise my lifestyle or use a credit card. Check out these Planner Perfect Meal tips…
- Free up money in your grocery budget each week and still eat like a king. Manipulating your grocery money is something I’ve done for years to be able get what I need (or want) during the holidays. But how do you do it and not eat mac and cheese every night? Well, with a little planning and effort, you can pull off wonderful, comforting meals, and have presents under the tree. Oh, who are we kidding…and a new outfit for yourself!
- Plan your weekly meals strategically, and with detail. This time you will need to plan your breakfasts and lunches. When you manipulate your money from your grocery budget, if you don’t plan every meal down to the snacks, your family will smell a ruse. Not that your family is not willing to sacrifice during this time of year, but why if you don’t have to? And besides, the men in your life will thank you as they view food differently than women and tend to get downright angry when they are starved. Cereal for dinner every day of the week just doesn’t cut it for them!
- Buy baking supplies in bulk. I love to buy my flour, vanilla extract, sugars, butter, yeast and spices at Sams or Costco. I save a lot of money this way and bake all holiday long for half the cost if I were to have bought my supplies at a grocery store.
- Plan a baking day in your week. This is a must. Nothing fantastic comes without some effort and this is no exception. Don’t be intimidated by this baking bread thing, it is easy and your family will love your efforts. The texture is perfect, the taste is outstanding and the smell is out of this world. Click here for my easy, homemade bread recipe. Once you start that mixer, I find that it is easy for me to just keep on going. You can make homemade cinnamon rolls with this bread recipe, too, which you can serve for the next morning. I make pizza crusts, and rolls for dinner and freeze the dough until I am ready to use it. It makes it simple and easy and gourmet when you serve a hot homemade dinner roll along side your soup on a dinner night. I free up money with these efforts and my family would never know or feel the money that I took out of the grocery budget. More on dinner ideas in a minute.
- Breakfast alternatives are a must when manipulating your money. Instead of buying boxes and boxes of sugar cereals and milk. A lot one or two cereal days and the rest, plan to make breakfast. I like to plan my breakfasts and take 20 minutes for preparation. I make toast and eggs with my homemade bread, biscuit breakfasts with sausage, eggs and cheese, pancakes and oatmeal. Make sure that you double or quadruple recipes (I know I do with 5 boys in my house!) and seal in resealable bags for snacks or breakfast the next day and you don’t have to prepare a thing. Just reheat and serve. With all of these breakfasts…you are eating like a king without missing a thing! The simple ingredients that you have bought in bulk will serve you well here because when you take the time to prepare a little in advance you save money.
- Snacking can be as easy as popcorn, dip with veggies, plenty of fruits and some homemade cookies. Allow in your grocery budget for fresh veggies and fruits. I always have veggies with my dip on the table for snacking, cut up apples and cheese, and a big bowl of popped popcorn with a little salt for movie at night. This is a lot cheaper than bags of chips, microwave popcorn, and other processed food snacks and not to mention, healthier. Saving money and eating well never felt so good!
- Dinners are a snap and gourmet when accompanied with your baking delights from your baking day. Soups are a wonderful way to make comforting meals for less money. I love to buy a fryer chickens because it serves a dual purpose. I make a fryer chicken with some rice and roasted vegetables one night, and use the chicken bones to make stock for soup the next day. Throw in a fresh, out-of-the oven dinner roll you baked on your baking day and you’ve got heaven with little effort and your family will think they’ve eaten out for dinner. Make paninis with your homemade bread. Cut it thick, use leftover meat from previous dinners, add a slice of cheese, onion, and dressing of your choice and you’ve got yourself an amazing gourmet sandwich, for very little cost. If you have a mandolin, try making your own chips to go along side. But no worries… some store bought corn chips can fit into your budget, too and will compliment your gourmet meal with ease. Pull out your pizza crust on a dinner night to thaw and make pizza for little, and because of your planning ahead of time, easy.
These money saving tips are tried and true. I have a family of nine and have been using this method for years. Manipulating your grocery money by buying in bulk, planning your meals and a baking day is a surefire way to put some fa-la-la-la-la into your holidays without the stress.