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Thanksgiving evening usually marks a magical transition into the Christmas spirit, unless you’re a major retailer in which this transition seems to begin at the end of Halloween.
Christmas lights start to envelop houses and yards, nostalgic holiday tunes take over music platforms, and windows start displaying a Christmas staple, the Christmas tree.
Christmas is hands down the busiest, and most stressful time of year as people navigate their checklists of gifts and Christmas dinner items to buy without going bankrupt in the process. While there is a lot of ways to save money on Christmas and having a holiday budget in place can help, not many people take the time and energy to do these things.
The search for kid-friendly Christmas activities that don’t cost a fortune is on, mostly because you’re spending a small fortune on Christmas already. Looking for low-cost white elephant gifts, or cheap stocking stuffers while trying to navigate a holiday meal plan and remembering to move a little elf- It’s a lot to handle at once!
I mean, there are so many FREE things to do during Christmas, that even if Santa doesn’t have money, the holidays can still be magical! Who needs a traditional feast when we all know by dinner time kids and adults are getting tired and are very occupied with their new toys.
What if I told you that you could still save money during Christmas?
Well, you can! You can save money on gifts, decor, and even more importantly, Christmas dinner. Having a budget-friendly Christmas isn’t impossible, but with the proper planning, you can keep from going into debt this season.
People get stuck on the idea that Christmas dinner has to include specific items or be a certain way to truly be Christmas dinner.
That’s not true. More and more people are opting for non-traditional dinners during Christmas time to save time and money. The more money you can squeeze from one area during Christmas the easier it is to get by when Santa is broke.
If you’d still like a traditional dinner, there are also more frugal ways to accomplish this feat.
Here Are Some Easy & Frugal Christmas Dinner Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank:
Roast with Vegetables
Roast with veggies is one of my more favorite frugal Christmas Dinner recipes because it’s effortless, hearty, and can stand on its own or with sides.
I usually buy a decent chuck roast to go in the slow cooker overnight, and then Christmas morning, I’ll add potatoes, carrots, celery, or any other veggies on hand. Pair with rice and biscuits, and you and your family will fall in love with frugal cooking during the holidays.
To save even more money you can buy a pork roast instead of a beef one because pork is almost always cheaper per pound. My Garlic Brown Sugar Pork Roast is ALWAYS a huge hit!
Ham with Different Sides
Chances are when you think of Christmas dinner, you probably think of ham. A frugal Christmas dinner idea for this particular meat would be to focus on the meat and make less complex sides such as green beans or green bean casserole, mac-n-cheese, potato salad, and so on. Just let the ham be your one large purchase and enjoy your frugal meal.
Suggested: Honey Orange Glazed Ham Recipe.
Ham and Beans
Beans are very versatile and filling. One Christmas, we had ham and beans for Christmas dinner and not only was it easy, but it was also delicious and frugal. Just choose your favorite beans and begin cooking. You can also add other cheap sides such as rice, rolls/biscuits, and a vegetable of your choosing for a downright frugal Christmas dinner idea.
Homemade Mexican Food
I love Mexican food, and also love making it. While it seems a non-traditional Christmas dinner, I’ve never had any complaints about serving enchiladas or tamales to my loved ones — regardless of holidays. Spice up your Christmas dinner with this frugal idea! Offering red and green sauce just helps to tie it in with the holiday colors too.
Pot Luck Style Dinners
One way to take some of the financial burdens of Christmas dinner off of your shoulders is to have everyone bring a dish, beverage, or dessert. Once you know what everyone will be bringing, you can plan the rest of your meal, including what appetizers and meats you’d like to serve.
Doing it this way saves time and money while reducing the stress of being solely responsible for cooking a big dinner.
Roast Chicken with Vegetables
This frugal Christmas dinner idea is very Christmas budget-friendly as you can buy a whole chicken for relatively cheap. I like to roast chicken with veggies such as carrots, celery, and whatever else I have on hand. Then when the chicken finishes cooking, I will take the vegetables out and add them to some Stove Top stuffing, gravy for mashed potatoes, or as a stand-alone side.
Game of Dishes
Sometimes I like to switch it up and let everyone bring their favorite dish to dinner. It doesn’t have to be a traditional Christmas dinner item, whatever their favorite dish happens to be.
It’s fun to see the array of foods that come in that you wouldn’t typically see served together, but works. Everyone has food that they love and a funny story to tell afterward.
Mock Apple Pie
Mock apple pie is a favorite dessert of many and is a very frugal food. So frugal, it was a massive hit during the Great Depression when money was scarce and times were hard. This pie is so convincing that you’ll never know they aren’t real apples.
If you’re anything like Garfield, this is the perfect budget-friendly Christmas feast. Just make it in advance and boom. You’re ready for the oven on Christmas day. It serves well with garlic bread/breadsticks, salad, and any choice of dessert.
Soup and Salad
Christmas can be rather chilly, so what better way to warm the family up than with a pot of delicious homemade soup? Soup also goes a long way and often leaves you with leftovers for those after Christmas days when you don’t feel like cooking. Just serve soup, salad, and a choice of bread, and you’re good to go.
Additional Money-Saving Tips for Christmas Dinner Are:
Planning is a lifesaver and a very frugal Christmas practice while allowing you to miss the madness of last-minute shopping. Meat, butter, and bread can be frozen until you need them, and canned goods can be stored easily. Buying this way ensures that you’ll have everything you need and the freedom to shop deals.
If you’re not a fan of shopping for deals or planning, another idea for a frugal Christmas dinner is downsizing the menu. Instead of having a super extravagant spread, try to cut out dishes that aren’t needed. By cutting down on the menu, you save yourself some Christmas dollars.
Deals are abundant during and particularly after the holidays. Right after Thanksgiving, stores will typically mark down meat items that may have been over-ordered and under-purchased to make space for Christmas items.
Some places even keep track of what you spend during the holidays, such as Shoprite, and then they reward you with a free turkey or ham if you spend a certain amount. I have a local store that gives out pork roasts when you spend $150 over the course of 2 months (it’s pretty easy to reach that goal).
The only thing that you need to make Christmas dinner truly special is yourself and your loved ones.
While we can get carried away with the financial aspects of Christmas, it’s essential to remember that Christmas is a time for love, peace, and joy — not just material things. Making memories is priceless.
What does your frugal Christmas dinner include?
I’d love to hear back on any frugal recipes or Christmas ideas that you may have to save money during the holidays. Share in the comments below.