The following are tips that will help you save money, and to provide everyone with a memorable experience:
- Create a budget and stick to it. Make a list of all ingredients and other items that will be needed. Record next to each item what you are prepared to pay for each, as well as how many will be needed.
- Cook and bake everything you can from scratch. This is much more affordable than convenience foods.
- Cook and bake as a family. This provides you with quality time before the big event, which is important. Getting your entire household involved will help the task seem less overwhelming.
- Use store or generic brands to save money.
- If you are unable to find certain items in a cheaper brand, try to buy them on sale. For ultimate savings, combine sales with coupons.
- Use the Dollar store in your area for items such as herbs and spices, if necessary. Other items can be purchased there as well, but I suggest that you have already tried them before using them for a holiday meal. You want to be sure they are of good quality.
- Be sure you have everything on hand before you begin cooking.
- For a healthier meal, be sure you are using healthier alternatives to white, processed items like flour.
- Fresh produce is also better, unless you thought to preserve the items from your garden.
The foods you make for your holiday buffet will be the stars of the holiday celebration. You want each food to taste and look their best so everyone will enjoy them and go back for seconds.
Here are some ideas for a wonderful holiday buffet:
- Choose a protein source that you can prepare easily, and will work when served cold. A beef roast would accomplish this, as would poultry. For simplicity, you could serve 1) a platter of celery with peanut butter or cream cheese filling, or 2) pepperoni sandwiches.
- Make homemade breads such as apple, pumpkin and zucchini.
- Make homemade pies for the gathering. Apple, cherry, pumpkin, chocolate cream and banana cream are all good choices at this time of the year.
- Fresh fruits are always good to serve. Look for anything that is affordable, like apples, bananas, kiwi, and oranges.
- Create vegetable platters with whatever is cheap. Try carrots, celery, and pickles. To make pickle purchases cheap, buy the huge gallon size jars for $5.00 to $6.00. You’ll have plenty left over, and they last a long time after opening.
- Make homemade cookies and cheesecake.
Presentation is important, especially when there is not much for food. You want things to look attractive to make up for the fact that you might not have much food to serve.
Here are some ideas:
- Arrange the fruit in a basket lined with red, white, green or blue fabric, or that has a holiday print.
- Place your protein source on a fancy looking platter from the dollar store.
- The dipping sauce for vegetables will look nice in a gravy boat, even if it is an old one.
- The breads can be placed on small plates among everything else.
- The cookies will look lovely on tiered platters.
- Pies can stay in the pie plates, though they should be sectioned to make them easy to remove. Place the pie plates on paper or lace doily’s.
- The vegetables can be cut into sticks or chunks and placed on a round pizza pan. Place a dipping sauce in the middle or to the side.
What tips do you have to share?