One mother sharing her knowledge with others.

Holiday Meals on a Budget

Holiday Meals on a Budget

Every year around this time, for many people, the stress starts building about how to create the perfect holidays.  The ads are everywhere… newspapers, radio, TV and in the last several years on the Internet.

If you’re on Pinterest your home feed is starting to fill up with photos of the perfect Christmas tree, the perfect holiday table setting, the perfect… well the perfect everything.

Canadian Thanksgiving is next Monday, October 12th.  And while I may not be able to brag that we’ll be having the “perfect” Thanksgiving dinner… we will be blessed with family gathered around the table and a wonderful meal.

Roast Turkey
This photo was taken last year when we celebrated American Thanksgiving.

Not only will it be done on a budget, but I will also have most of the food purchased for our American Thanksgiving (we celebrate both now) and Christmas meals.  The preparations began last week and will continue throughout this week.

I start by setting aside extra money in my food budget for the two weeks before Thanksgiving.  In Canada that means the last week of September and first week of October.  When we were living in the States that meant the two weeks prior to the fourth Thursday of November (whatever that date happened to be each year.)

Utility turkeys were on sale last week for 98 cents per pound.  We bought three.

3 frozen turkeys
They are called Utility Turkeys because they may be missing part of a wing or the skin may have a small cut in it. They may not look as pretty as the more expensive birds but they taste just as good.

Here in Canada turkeys will be on sale again this week, so it’s not too late to take advantage of this opportunity to buy ahead for the holidays.

On Saturday, I picked up three bags of assorted rolls from the “Oops, we overbaked” rack (aka the day old baked goods) and then turned them into bread crumbs with our food processor (<-affiliate link) to make stuffing.

Making bread crumbs for stuffing

How to Make Bread Crumbs

Three 1 gallon plastic zip bags of bread crumbs are in the freezer ready to use.  (I will do this again the week prior to each holiday meal as bread crumbs left too long in the freezer tend to get freezer burn.)

I bought whole cranberries on sale for $1.88 per bag to make The Best Ever Homemade Cranberry Sauce.

Fresh cranberries for making sauce

I will save a cup of the sauce for this coming Monday and the rest will be canned in half-pint jars for the holiday season.  Sometime during that time, one of those jars will be used to make Dave’s favorite Cranberry Coffee Cake.

If I happen to come across bags of cranberries discounted next week, I’ll buy those to make and can more sauce as they are great hostess gifts.

Beets were on sale for $1.44 for a 10 lb bag.

Two 10 lb bags of beets

I bought two and will be making and canning Harvard Beets and Pickled Beets.

Onions were another thing on sale $1.44 for a 10 lb bag.  We stocked up on those and put them in the cold room to use throughout the winter.

If you don’t happen to have a cold storage room… onions can be chopped or sliced and frozen for future use.

Potatoes for the meals are ones we grew ourselves in our community garden plot.  But if we didn’t have a garden, potatoes were also on sale for that great $1.44 for 10 lb price.

Now of course, you have to have something fizzy to drink with the meal.

Cranberry Cocktail and Sprite for making punch

One liter bottles of Sprite were on sale for 97 cents each while the Cranberry Cocktail was $2.88.

Equal parts cranberry cocktail and sprite makes a refreshing punch that isn’t too sweet with just the right amount of tartness.

And no holiday meal in the Flemming household would be complete without pumpkin pie for dessert.

canned pumpkin and evaporated milk

This week, I’ll be checking the flyers for other baking supplies so I can stock up on those as well while they are on sale.

So far, I’ve spent approximately $70 for three festive holiday meals plus lots of leftovers for the day following each celebration.  Anything leftover on the third day will be transformed into freezer meals for nights when none of us feel like cooking.

By the time I finish shopping the sales this week, I will have spent approximately $30 per holiday. Your costs will varying depending on how many people you are feeding and the sales available in your area.   With advanced planning it is possible to produce delicious holiday meals on a budget.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this week, but the extra time now will mean less time shopping when the stores are packed, giving us more time to enjoy the festivities.

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4 Comments

  • Linda
    October 6, 2015 8:18 am

    I love cranberry sauce (homemade) but never thought of canning it till this post. I know what I’m doing this week – or when I fined the cranberries on sale!
    Great post!

  • Susan
    October 6, 2015 12:07 pm

    I’ve never heard of utility turkeys, but I would gladly pay less to have one – especially if it’s dark meat it’s missing! And gizzards and innards can be missing, too. LOL What a great inspiration your post was. Those prices for potatoes, onions and beets are amazing! I’ll have to start checking at Aldi’s for sales soon. Preparing so much in advance is a great idea, too. Thanks for sharing what you do.

  • Rachel
    October 6, 2015 4:05 pm

    All very good ideas. Just takes a bit more planning…

  • Mary Anne
    October 10, 2015 6:17 pm

    Some great hints here – thank you. We don’t ‘do’ Thanksgiving any longer, and Christmas is probably going to be at our son’s, so I guess we’re off the hook for all of this. Wonder why, then, we bought a 98c/lb utility turkey and have it in the freezer?

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