a Guest Post by Danielle

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time to plan for all those wonderful meals you’ll be making throughout December and into the new year. Though the thought of preparing lavish sit-down dinners for friends and family is tempting, doing so can be quite costly. This holiday season, have the meals you fancy most and the good times you’ll talk about for years to come by
taking a few steps to prevent overspending at the grocery.

1. Shopping List. It cannot be said enough: Make a list of ingredients you need and stick
to it. Using a grocery delivery service will help you avoid impulse items that would otherwise land in your cart while browsing store aisles. Just make sure you don’t place your order when you’re hungry. You can’t get far in the kitchen with only a passel of Snickers bars on hand.

2. Cook from scratch whenever possible. As you know, pre-packaged foods you’ll use in your recipes, such as vanilla extract or Herbs de Provence , can easily be made at home for a fraction of their store-bought cost. There’s no sense in inflating your budget if you can easily get around doing so. Store-bought items are certainly convenient but cooking from scratch allows you the freedom to experiment with flavors and enhance meals to your specific tastes. Doing so also begets bragging rights.

3. Buy in bulk. You know you’ll be cooking a great deal during the holidays, especially if you’re prolific in the kitchen during the rest of the year. Get an idea of the staples you’ll need, like sugar, flour, and butter, and get thee to a wholesaler for the best deal on ingredients you’ll be using in great quantity. Keep an eye out for items you’ll be using but might not necessarily stock up on, such as chocolate for desserts, knowing it will probably go to good use even after the holidays are over.

4. Consider making your holiday feast into a potluck. If you budget wisely, you can serve an elaborate entrée like French-cut rack of lamb, including perhaps lemon-roasted  potatoes as a side dish, and invite guests to complete the meal with salad or vegetables and a selection of desserts. You’ll end up with a true feast that doesn’t leave scars on your wallet. Consider starting a tradition where you and your friends have a sort of moveable feast, meeting at the host’s house for the entrée and other homes for additional courses. Eat well and enjoy yourself without ending up in the poorhouse.

Now that you’ve got some ideas for getting through the holiday season without overspending, it’s time to cook! See what other cost-saving tips you can employ to make the selection of grocery items a fun and budget-friendly process.

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More about Danielle: Danielle has a weakness for trendy kitchen gadgets and likes to experiment with recipes that challenge her to use new ingredients. Read her blog about cooking and traveling at cooksandtravelbooks.com..

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