Saturday, March 23, 2013

15 Tips to Plan an Easter Meal on a Budget

Easter is a reminder that Spring has finally arrived and Winter has ended. I love the Spring season because the temperature starts to warm up and it is a gentle reminder that summer will soon be here.  During any holiday it is easy to spend money with all the advertisers, family and friends asking you to buy this or buy that. Resist the temptation to spend money that you don’t have, buy more than you need, or buy something you probably will not use simply because it is on sale.

You can enjoy a holiday meal without going into debt but it requires effective planning. Many people love getting together for a holiday but don’t love spending a lot of money to do it. Planning a meal for a holiday can be stressful with the decorations, desserts, cleaning, cooking, invitations, and setup.  You can still enjoy a holiday meal with family and friends, save money and eat healthy.

Remember the real reason for the holiday and focus on giving and being with your family. Comparison shop to see if you can find the item for a cheaper price at another store.  Don’t stress out over preparations.  Focus on giving a festive event that is memorable and everyone is happy. Here are 15 ways to plan an Easter meal on a budget:

  1. Plan ahead. Don't wait until the day before Easter to go shopping. Lines at the register are longer and the selection of items is limited.  Try shopping at least a week in advance or early in the morning.
  2. Make lists. Make a list of what you need and can afford to buy and stick to it. Make a list of what you need but can’t afford to buy and ask guests to bring those items.
  3. Menu.  Create a menu ahead of time and stick to it.  Consider low cost items for the menu such as potato salad, salads, sweet potatoes, casseroles, etc.
  4. Local shopping. Visit local vendors, farms or farmers markets to purchase meats, fruits and vegetables which will be less expensive than the grocery store.  Buy items in season, fresh is always better.
  5. Budget. Create a food budget and don’t go over that amount.
  6. Coupons. Know your prices and when items go on sale.  Use coupons on sale items. Shop at stores that offer double coupons and discounts for loyalty card members.
  7. Smaller meal. Consider having brunch instead of dinner to save money. Ask friends and family to bring a dish to help cut downs on costs.
  8. Side items. Buy ingredients for side dishes at least one week before you buy the meats.
  9. Drinks. Make your own non-alcoholic beverages such as tea or punch.
  10. Centerpieces. Make your own centerpieces for decorations.
  11. Condiments. Buy spices and condiments at the dollar store.
  12. Salad Dressing. Use olive oil instead of salad dressing for pasta dishes and salads.
  13. Make from scratch. Make you own bread, yogurt, pasta, soda, jelly, ice cream and desserts from scratch.
  14. Leftovers.  Freeze leftovers or take to work for lunch.
  15. Use cash. Pay for all items with cash to save money.

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