10 Tips to Help Save Money on Your Holiday Groceries

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Holiday themed merchandise hits the store shelves as soon as the Halloween treats are gone, and the grocery stores are no exception.  Holiday music gets you in the festive spirit and our gullible brains are nudged into spending more without us even realizing it.

If you’re anything like me, the holiday season brings out your inner shopper.  It’s hard to resist all the festive displays – the party platters, gift baskets, frozen party treats, tins of cookies, Advent calendars, and more.  At this time of year it can be tough to roll my grocery cart out of the store without going over my set budget amount if I’m not careful.

Related:  Grandparents and Holiday Gifts

Here are some tips that help me save money on my holiday groceries.

  1. Have a game plan.  Make a list of all the ingredients you will need for your holiday meals and baking.  We tend to have the same favourites year after year plus one or two new dishes for variety, so it’s easy to plan.  In fact, I have a holiday planner with just such a list and update it every year.
  2. Take inventory of what you have at home.  Holiday cooking sometimes involves ingredients we don’t use very often.  Knowing what you have will help you avoid buying duplicates when you shop.
  3. Spread out your holiday purchases throughout the season.  Seasonal items are expensive!  I add a couple of items to my regular grocery list each week to spread out the costs.  That way I’m not floored by the final bill if I buy nuts, butter, baking chocolate, cheeses and other nibbles all at one time.
  4. Buy in-season vegetables and fruit.  I’m still not a fan of brussels sprouts even though a lady at the bin told me the very best way of preparing them.  But I’m all over mandarins and pomegranates, and root vegetables make a nice homey meal.
  5. Skip the convenience foods.  It’s a busy time of year and you might want to save some time by buying pre-cut vegetables and prepared foods (except for the Costco roast chicken – always a good deal) but most often it’s not worth it dollar-wise. 
  6. Take advantage of seasonal store sales and specials.  Of course, we should do this year-round but it’s worth a reminder.  You can often get deals on turkey and hams and frozen party hors d’oeuvres and snacks.  But only buy food products if they will be part of your meal plans.
  7. Buy in the bulk section.  Sometimes you need only a small amount of some ingredient – a cup of chopped walnuts, a teaspoon of cardamom, one vanilla bean – for your holiday cooking and baking.  You’ll save in the bulk section because you buy only what you need.
  8. Use your loyalty cards.  This is a great time to use my PC Optimum points that I’ve collected throughout the year.  Who doesn’t like free groceries?
  9. Bake and freeze some treats and meals.  You’ll have something on hand when guests drop by (it is the season for visiting after all), or you’ve had a crazy day shopping or decorating.  That way you won’t have to make a mad dash to the store for some prepared meals, or have to order in.
  10. Stay focused (especially if you shop at someplace like Costco).  Avoid impulse items like frozen bacon-wrapped scallops, individual cheesecake pops, scrumptious looking baked goods and those boxes of chocolates conveniently located at the end on an aisle.

Save on entertaining

The holidays are all about family, friends – and food, and you don’t want to scrimp when you’re entertaining.  But that doesn’t mean you always have to be the one to shell out for the food and drink.

Think about hosting a potluck party.  You’ll be able to feed a lot of people at minimal cost. If you’re the host, cook a main dish like a roast and ask your guests to make sides and dessert.  Anyone who doesn’t cook can bring wine.

At the end of the evening, there will often be plenty of leftovers for all of you to enjoy over the next few days.

Another idea is to host a cooking party.  You and your guests cook something like stew or pasta dishes, and everyone takes home a portion of each dish. It’s a nice way to be social while you share expenses too.

The bottom line

I love to have the chance to bake and prepare special meals for my family and friends, but it can get expensive. By having a plan, sticking to my grocery list, and avoiding temptation (mostly) I can stick to my budget and not worry about overspending.

Then, I might put some of the money I saved towards a little something for myself as a special treat. 😊

What’s your favourite holiday treat that you can’t resist?

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