Food is often the centerpiece for holiday gatherings. It brings us together, cultivates community, evokes feelings of comfort and celebrates culture. As the holiday season unfolds, families may be worried about the impact inflation will have on their holiday plans with increased prices for festivities, gifts and especially holiday meals.
Sometimes holiday traditions become so routine that we experience stress when we have to change or adjust them. As we reflect on the greater meaning of holidays, we remember it's less about the meals we have on the table and more about who we share them with. With a dash of flexibility, you can still share comforting and nutritious meals with your loved ones without breaking the bank.
If you're worried about money when preparing a holiday meal this season, consider the following tips from Susie West, Extension health and nutrition educator.
What guidance do you have for people when organizing their holiday meals this season?
Plan your menu in advance and split up your holiday grocery purchases across several visits so you don’t end up with a huge grocery bill for special holiday purchases on top of your usual shopping. Grabbing some canned, frozen or shelf-stable ingredients well in advance of your holiday meals can also help you make the most of sales and avoid ingredient shortages.
With rising grocery prices, grocery shortages and inflation, how can families use flexibility to their advantage this holiday season?
It can be a really great opportunity to reassess traditions and reconsider what food items we make each year but don’t get eaten or those we just don’t enjoy!
One of my favorite holiday meal traditions that my family changed was opting for each family to bring a soup to the gathering instead of doing the typical holiday spread. It was so fun to try a bunch of different types of soups. We even did a chili competition one year, which was a blast. It also spread out the cost of the meal more evenly since everyone was tasked with bringing something comparable.
How can families share a comforting and nutritious meal with their loved ones that is cost effective?
Some of my fondest memories of the holidays are not about eating the food but revolve around the preparation of the food and cleaning up afterward. Yes, the meal is important, but when the leftovers are gone, the memories of making that meal will remain.
I will never forget making oyster soup with my Grandma Jane on Christmas Eve, listening to “The Nutcracker'' while trying my hand at cracking walnuts with Grandpa Paul or having dishwashing competitions with my cousins after everyone was finished eating.
I would encourage families to take an active part in making meals together, dancing, singing, making messes and cleaning up together.
Find more tips on how to spend wisely this holiday season with guidance on holiday spending and holiday food on a budget.
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