The Holiday season gets more expensive every year. The must have gifts and quick meals on the ride home can lead to not only exhaustion, but an empty wallet as well. I have here some Christmas baking tips that may save a few dollars in the kitchen to be better spent on presents for the family. These are just some ideas that I have put to use over the past few years since I became a single mother with the obligation to fill the underneath of the tree on my own. I have learned that indeed every little bit counts.
First, make yourself a list. This may sound hokey and mundane, but having a list of all the ingredients one needs for Christmas baking can help the shopper to avoid over spending. Without a list we as shoppers may wander from aisle to aisle looking for what we need, and managing to buy things that we don’t. Also having a list could help avoid making more than one trip to the market, knowing that we have everything we need. Going into the store with a detailed list, getting only the items on the list and will feel a great deal better then getting home and discovering you forgot that main ingredient. Less trips to the market means more gas in your car for when you have to grab that last minute Christmas gift.
Next, take a look in the newspaper, weekly flyers and magazines for coupons. I have heard it all before, “Its just fifty cents. Is it really worth it?” Yes it is. During the holiday season the stores put a great deal of the common Christmas baking needs on sale and the manufacturers load the flyers, newspapers and cooking magazines with coupons for a lot of these items. I remember last year that I went to the register and was told my total was $47.82, I handed the cashier my coupons and by the time she was done the total was at under $30. The customer behind me showed her applause by blurting out, “Now, you know what your doing.” Also, brands such as Pillsbury, Kraft, Philadelphia, Jello and Cool Whip just to name a few, have online clubs and sites that if you register and join for free you are eligible for money saving coupons and deals. A little spam can save you a lot of cash.
Third, take a look in your cabinets, spice racks, and refrigerator. I must admit that there have been times where I went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients needed to do my Christmas baking and then realized that I had a great deal of the ingredients already in my own kitchen. Doing a quick search around the kitchen may result in the baker scratching two or three things of the shopping list, and saving an upwards of $10 in some cases. Though I cannot stress enough, please check all your expiration and sell by dates when doing your Christmas baking kitchen walk. With so much on our minds during the holidays how can we be expected to remember the entire contents of our kitchens? So just take a glance, see what it is you really need in order to get the desserts on their way.
Last, when shopping at the grocery store take a look at the ingredients on things like flour, pie crusts, butter, cooking sprays etc. Sometimes the store brand has the same exact ingredients and tastes the same, especially when baked in with other ingredients. The store brands often times can be from 50 cents to three dollars less than the name brand. That would be a tremendous savings even if you had a coupon for the popular brand. Reputable markets often time have their products made by the same companies that make your favorite name brand products. Take a look at the labels. I swear by a great deal of store brand items, and have found that some contain less fat, sugar and oil than the more popular brands as well as taste better. Though I recommend not mentioning buying a store brand to guests. Often times a person will believe something tastes different, just because they were told it was.
These are a few cost-cutting Christmas tips that I have used over the years and through the holidays in order to keep my budget in check. The Christmas season is expensive enough without spending extra money that could be put to a much better use. A tradition me and my son had started is taking our saved money on coupons and using it to grab a name or two off the giving tree (which most local store have) and share the wealth. Not only does it help someone in need but helps make a person aware that every penny counts, not only at Christmas but all year long. If saving a few dollars during the Christmas season can buy hats and gloves for someone who needs it, maybe saving all year round could really make a difference.
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