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How you can save on holiday meals

Christmas meal laid on table in decorated dining room.
Posted at 10:09 AM, Nov 22, 2023

If you're hosting a holiday gathering and trying not to go broke, we talked with some consumer experts, so your food budget doesn't get out of control.

Ways to Save on Holiday Meals

1.) Shop early

"So the first time to shop to start saving money with food for the holidays is the first two weeks of December or even three because like the 24th is late. Everybody, the grocers know that everybody's going to shop the week of Christmas and so they're trying to keep cash flow all month and so they're going to have all kinds of staples and baked goods for people to bake the first two weeks of December so watch for that," said Annette Economides with savings website

2.) Scale back

"A fruit, a nut, a thing that is a fresh vegetable and the savings really do compound when you're not buying that fancy cheese by the pound or getting those seafood things or meat. Just really scale it back," said Brian Vines, Deputy Editor of Special Projects at Consumer Reports Magazine.

3.) ​Freeze food

"There are also vegetables, dairy, so many things that your freezer can really save you lots of money. And buying in bulk when things are available and saving them to freeze is a guaranteed money saver," said Vines.

"Check your freezer, check your refrigerator, check your pantry, kind of clean it out, take inventory. And you may have like, I don't know, six out of the ten ingredients to make something already right in your house," said Economides.

You can also download the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FoodKeeper app. It has food storage tips so you can keep items fresh longer.

4.) Skip the turkey

"Be flexible. We've had things like meatloaf, beef stew, ham, lasagna, baked ziti. It doesn't just have to be turkey. It doesn't have to be whatever the fancy thing is that you make," said Economides.

5.) Curbside shopping

"You're not tempted by all of those new and interesting and things that proclaim to be on sale, and it really helps you adhere to that budget and that list," said Vines.

5.) Host a potluck

"Make your holiday a potluck. This way you can invite as many friends and family as you want to. And no one minds if they have to bring one thing and they know that there's going to be an island just covered with food," Economides said.

Click here to read more savings tips from Consumer Reports.