Written by Crystal Paine, founder of Moneysavingmom.com
Planning and preparing a delicious holiday spread doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are six tips to help you keep more cash in your wallet this holiday season. 1. Split Up the Cooking Responsibilities Divvy up the holiday meal duties so that no one has to purchase and prepare all the food by themselves. Not only does this make for a lot less work, but it can also add more variety to your menu. 2. Use What You Have Look in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer to see what's already on hand that might be the beginnings of a holiday dish. Type the items you find into the ingredient search feature on AllRecipes.com and it will generate a list of recipe ideas for you. 3. Simplify Your Menu Do you really need 15 different dishes on your holiday buffet? Consider simplifying and just sticking with your absolute favorites. You'll save lots of time and effort, not to mention money! 4. Plan Your Menu Based on What’s on Sale Start looking at supermarket flyers a few weeks before Christmas. Grocery stores typically rotate their best sales each week, so if you can start stocking up in advance, you’ll pay a lot less for the items you need to make your holiday dinner. 5. Search for Coupons Online Before you head to the store, check the coupon database on MoneySavingMom.com to see if there's anything available for products you’re planning to purchase. Type in any item (such as “butter”) or brand (such as Land 'O Lakes) and it will generate a list of printable coupons. For a couple minutes of your time, you’ll save at least a few dollars, if not more. That’s totally worth a little effort! 6. Make Food Ahead of Time The freezer is a budget cook’s best friend, especially during the holiday season. Instead of purchasing expensive pre-made or prepackaged food in order to save time, cook as much ahead of time as you can. A few of my favorite make-ahead dishes are Sweet Potato Casserole, Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, Make Ahead Butterhorn Rolls and Freezer-Friendly Slab Apple Pie. You can see more of my favorite Holiday Freezer Cooking recipes here. Follow these tips and your money will go a lot further this holiday season, leaving you with more to put toward your savings goals, pay off debt, give to your favorite charity or even use on a strategic splurge! Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three and founder of MoneySavingMom.com, one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the Web. Her second book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, will be published in January 2014.