Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to overspend, overeat, and over indulge. Make this holiday season the season to eat all the great foods you love, but with an added savings in your pockets and on your waist.
In today’s economy, everyday savings are important. But everyday savings should not be just about saving a buck at the store. When cooking this holiday season make some simple changes in the way you prepare foods. Smart decisions can save you money, and even prevent you from going up to the next pant size. Minor adjustments in food preparation will help keep more money in your pockets and help save on bills.
The Arizona Public Service says while cooking that holiday meal, or any meal, “Keep the oven door closed; every time you open the oven door, the temperature drops anywhere from 25-30 degrees, which causes more energy to be used.” Sure we have a tendency to want to check how our meal is doing in the oven while cooking, but if we are already aware of how long it takes, let it cook! The Arizona Public Service also suggests baking and cooking on off peak hours to save energy. Maybe you can let that turkey cook overnight instead of putting it in the oven early in the morning like everybody else on your block and in your neighborhood will be doing. Not only will it save you time, but it will also decrease that Holiday energy bill. For this and other energy efficient holiday cooking tips, log on to http://www.aps.com/aps_services/residential/waystosave/ResWaystoSave_64.html.
Donna Wright of Harlem, NY, a mother of three who cooks for about twenty of her family and friends during the holiday season, says, “I like to cook my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in advance to save me time.” True, cooking in advance can save you time but make sure that when it comes to warming the food up, that you are using other methods than a conventional oven. Try warming dishes in the microwave which will save you on energy. Instead of turning that oven back on to reheat your meals, try warming on the stove top.
Major supermarkets tend to have better deals on foods than smaller grocery stores. Conners Florida, a contributing writer for EHow.com, says to not be afraid of using coupons. Using coupons is a smart way to shop because your are adding on the savings, leaving you with extra money in your pockets to shop for other things this holiday season. Are you the preplanning type of shopper? Circulars are the best way to know what deals are at what stores so you do not overspend on the products that you may need to complete your meal. No one wants to go broke feeding their family this season! Little changes in the way we shop make a big difference. Try buying generic brand instead of the name brand foods. Make sure to carry the sale circular with you to the market. This way you are shopping for the items that are on sale. Just because you are not going to use the turkey to cook tomorrow or in a week does not mean that you should not buy it if it is on sale. Conners Florida says to buy it when it is on sale and freeze it. The turkey still maintains its freshness. It is a fact that some stores will tell you that you have to spend $150 in order to get a free turkey but if your intention was never to spend that much, you might outsmart the store by picking it up when it is on sale. Every little bit helps when it comes to saving money on that holiday meal. Planning ahead helps. By having a grocery list with you when shopping, you know the exact items needed for meals and it limits that annoying habit of buying items that you do not need.
Cooking from scratch can also make the difference. Sometimes recipes call for ingredients that can tip the budget a little bit more than what we would like to spend. Instead of using sour cream, why not substitute it with plain or vanilla yogurt. It will not change the taste. It will just make your meal a little less fattening and healthier. Salads are great dishes to add to your meals but make sure to not use out of season fruits or vegetables and maybe this year you can make your own salad dressing instead of buying like three or four different ones to accommodate your guests. Use skim milk or soy milk instead of whole milk. Use olive or vegetable oils instead of starch and other fatty oils. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. If an ingredient calls for ground beef, use ground turkey instead. Both are flavorful meats. Turkey is just a little bit leaner than beef. Try substituting Splenda or equal for sugar. Your baked goods can still be sweet but will also be sugar free.
Just because it is a holiday gathering does not mean you have to go all out on food. Regardless of what the content of the meal is, you can still fill your family’s and loved one’s stomachs with love. Disney’s Family Fun On-line Magazine suggests “You don’t have to serve a lot of baked goods if you’re expecting company. Although breads, cookies and cakes are traditionally associated with holiday entertaining, you’d probably be surprised to see how much your guests appreciate some lighter foods. Try serving raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli and radishes (which come naturally in festive colors) with some tasty, low-fat dip.” For this and more Family Fun tips, log on to http://familyfun.go.com/ Maybe this year you can serve cold cut sandwiches and instead of having to keep that oven on for the entire day, make something that does not require burning so much energy that you can cook on top of the stove instead of in the oven. Cooking dishes on the stove top is also a great method to save on energy costs. Instead of baking your shrimp, how about making shrimp scampi? How about a nice tray of crackers, grapes and diced cheese? Remember, this year is not about how much you can indulge for the holidays but about how much you can save and keep in your pockets for another day.