Inside: Have you ever noticed how quickly your grocery expenses add up this Christmas? It doesn’t have to be like that! Here’s how to set a budget for vacation dining.
Christmas is almost here. You probably have one Vacation budget for spending on decorations, cards, and gifts for everyone on your list.
But what about another vacation expense – food? You have your regulars Food budgetHowever, if you plan to bake, prepare special foods, or meals this holiday season, you will often spend more than you planned.
That does not have to be that way. You can still enjoy all of your favorite dishes, desserts, and treats without overdoing your vacation expenses. Just follow these tips for saving money.
Start with a baseball figure from last year to help you set a budget for vacation dinners
Before you start planning your vacation dinners, it is a good idea to know how much you want (or have) to spend. You have to have a budget.
First, look at what you spent last year. Check your bank statements to get a baseball number.
Do you need to accommodate additional or fewer guests this year?
Now add the cost of the special dishes you want to serve this year to your current grocery budget. If you’re not sure how much the ingredients cost, use a service like Instacart to find out the prices in your store.
If you find that your vacation budget doesn’t match the additional grocery costs (or number of guests), you’ll need to move your expenses or change what you want to serve.
Keep the Christmas dinner simple and affordable
When you watch the vacation movies on the Hallmark Channel and see a holiday meal on a 12 foot dining table, your mouth will water. It’s wasteful. But it is not necessary.
There’s no need to schedule or over-the-top Thanksgiving dinner Christmas dinner. You can keep the food simple.
Strategic planning not only saves you money, it can also lower your stress levels. You won’t get stuck in the kitchen for hours preparing food and desserts that will be devoured in minutes.
You can focus your time where you want: on your family and friends.
Create your vacation menu in advance to avoid impulse buying
Don’t wait until the last minute to find out what to do or you will find yourself Spontaneous purchase What’s ahead of you in the grocery store – and you can spend more than you need. Take into account how many guests you will have to cook for so you can plan the amount of food you will need in advance.
Create a holiday meal planner to help plan all of your holiday meal and baking projects well in advance. Go a step further and make a list of all the ingredients that you need to buy. Then, watch the weekly sales flyers to buy items when they’re on sale.
Then by the time you’re ready to start cooking, you’ll know that not only have you got everything you need, but you’ve met your spending limit as well.
Grocery store for Christmas dinner with a list
When it’s time to take a trip to the store, use a list – and stick with it. Always.
A list can help you avoid excessive grocery shopping and curb impulse buying. The list tells you what to buy – and nothing else.
Shop the sales and discounts and use coupons
Starting in mid-November, grocery stores are offering some of the best prices of the year on baking ingredients and other items you need for your vacation cooking. Use these discounts not just to get what you need for the holidays, but to shop ahead of time.
You might need four sticks of butter for your vacation baking, but what about other times of the year? Buy eight or 12 sticks and put the extra ones in your freezer. That way, you don’t have to pay full price for butter when you have to make cookies for Valentine’s Day.
You can bring your savings to ninja level by combining the sales with a coupon with an app like Ibotta. If items are already on sale and you add another $ 0.25 discount, the extra money is in your pocket.
Save money on holiday meals by cooking ahead of time
There is no rule that says you have to cook all of your vacation dishes yourself while on vacation. Not at all. You can cook many items in advance.
This can serve a dual purpose. Not only do you save time on vacation, but you also avoid the last minute rush to the store that could cost you more.
What should you prepare in advance? Things like desserts, cookies, rolls, cakes, and pies can be baked in advance. Make this part of your planning process.
Save your budget by letting guests help with the meal
There’s no need to cook everything yourself. Ask others for help! Assign dishes to each of your guests and let them contribute to the meal.
Not only does this save you time and money, but there is also a chance that your guests will appreciate the opportunity to offer something too.
Choose cheaper vacation food
When you ask people what to serve on the holidays, you hear some of the same reactions like turkey, ham, filling, sauce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, luscious desserts … you got the idea.
The truth is, you don’t have to serve an expensive meal. If the ham you have planned is not on your budget, skip it. Get a smaller ham instead of the large honey ham.
Don’t plan a big vacation dinner because you think that’s what your guests are expecting. They just want to go on vacation together.
Skip the pre-made items
It can be tempting to pick up the finished vegetable platter or starter plate. It’s made for you and you don’t need to do any prep.
But you will pay for it! It will cost you more for someone else to slice the carrots and arrange them on the plate.
Why pay for someone else to do what you can prepare yourself? The items ready for pickup cost more and can quickly drain your vacation budget.
Don’t let vacation dining get low on your budget!
Remember, the vacation is about more than what you eat or what you spend. Plan and spend what you can, and don’t let your food create vacation debt.