Holiday Tips: How to Save Time and Money
From the centerpieces to the linens, your holiday party should be an expression of you. When hosting a holiday party, you aren’t simply inviting guests over; you are creating an experience. However, hosting a holiday party isn’t always an easy or wallet-friendly experience. To help you survive the holidays in a budget-savvy way, we enlisted the help of “The Quick Meal Queen,” Natashja Szortyka, for some great holiday tips and recipes that will save you time and money!
- Check supermarket circulars for sales before you plan your menu. By utilizing ingredients that are on sale, you can change or modify your recipes to be less expensive. Ham is a traditional Christmas dish, but if pork lion is on sale, that might be a better route for dinner.
- Instead of having a dinner party, have an hors d'oeuvres party. You can make everything ahead of time and actually spend time with your guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen. One of my favorites is meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce. Mama Lucia meatballs are a great value and they taste really yummy. And by keeping them in the crock-pot you will have something warm for your guests on a cold winter’s night!
- If you do have a dinner party, limit the number of dishes you serve. People want to see their loved ones during the holidays first and foremost, so the less stressful your menu, the better for everyone.
- Keep something frozen and fast on-hand in case of emergencies! I always have a box or two of Steak-umms in my freezer. If you need to feed an unexpected guest or something doesn’t come out as you planned, cheese steaks are a fast crowd pleaser. In fact, Steak-umm just had a firefighter contest and I love using the recipe for a Steak-umm and egg anytime casserole. I have made it ahead of time and baked it when I needed it and it turns out lovely.
- The holidays are a time when everyone tends to over indulge. Look at your recipes for ways to cut calories without cutting flavor. Substitute non-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream. Try no-salt-added or homemade poultry stock instead of butter and milk in your mashed potatoes. Cutting calories at the beginning of the cooking process can make it easier to avoid adding on unwanted holiday pounds.
- With all of the cooking that happens this time of year, you are likely to have a lot of trimmings from vegetables and bones from large pieces of protein like turkey carcasses or bones from a rib roast. You can make your own stock from these pieces easily and save money and added salt you’d otherwise pay for buying canned stock. Simply take vegetable scraps (like onion, carrots, and celery; use anything but starchy vegetables), the bones from your turkey or roast, and some of your favorite herbs like rosemary and bay leaf, and put them in a large stock pot. Then cover with cold water. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and simmer uncovered for at least four hours. Skim the fat and foam that comes to the surface and then strain the liquid, and you have homemade stock!