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Hey! You at the grocery store shopping for Christmas dinner! Put the vegetable and dip tray back on the shelf!
Christmas dinner doesn’t have to cost an absolute fortune if you plan your menu carefully. You can still include a couple of pricier treats while keeping the costs in check.
Here are some ideas, some with links, to choose from. Remember that the right presentation makes everything feel more festive!
30 Thrifty Things for Christmas Dinner
Below find 30 Thrifty Things for Christmas Dinner to fill your table with scrumptious food. Pick a few from each category and focus on things that you can get the ingredients for inexpensively. (Budget bonus points if you already have the ingredients!)
Some of these things rely on store-bought premade items, but if you have time you can make them from scratch
- Veggies and Dip: To save the most money, peel and cut up whole carrots and other veggies. For a quick and inexpensive dip, mix some existing ranch dressing with sour cream. Alternatively, go with the old 80s fallback of sour cream mixed with onion soup mix. It’s a classic for a reason.
- Piggies in Blankets: Instead of getting cocktail sausages, cut hot dogs to the appropriate length. Use generic refrigerated croissant dough.
- Chips and Salsa: You can buy jarred or check out my salsa recipe in this article.
- Grape Jelly Meatballs: Easy and highly recommended by my family. Either use frozen premade meatballs or make your own. Pop ’em in the crockpot with a cup of grape jelly (apricot and plum work well too), a cup of barbecue sauce, some garlic powder, and a few tablespoons of soy sauce.
- Puppy Chow: Another fam favorite – here’s a recipe. Throw in some red and green M&Ms for festive flair.
- Mini Pizzas: Use cookie cutters to make festive shapes from flour tortillas. Top with marinara and a thrifty pizza topping and a teeny bit of shredded cheese. Bake and serve.
- Deviled Eggs: My secret ingredient is honey mustard instead of regular mustard.
The Main Meal
- Meat: This is nearly always the biggest expense of the entire meal. Watch your flyers for sales on turkey or ham. Beef will be outrageous as it rarely goes on sale at this time of year. Another option for small families is roasting a chicken.
- Potatoes: Cheap but essential. Go with classic mashed potatoes (add a wee bit of onion powder or garlic powder) or roasted potatoes to save the most money.
- Gravy: This is made from drippings so it doesn’t cost much at all.
- Stuffing: If you’ve been saving your bread scraps this is thrifty. If not, you can buy a cheap loaf and let it become stale enough for stuffing. I always make a batch of homemade cornbread for mine.
- Sweet Potatoes: Mashed (cheap and easy to make from canned sweet potatoes), candied, or roasted
- Green Beans: My fam goes crazy for “Christmas Beans” (not the real name of it) made from canned green beans. You can also make a classic green bean casserole if your people are into it.
- Frozen Veggies with Almonds: Cheap and easy – right before serving time, steam your favorite veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower, then top with some butter and slivered almonds.
- Baked Pasta: Baked ziti with marinara is always a hit – and it’s filling and frugal as long as you keep it vegetarian and don’t add 5 pounds of cheese.
- Macaroni and Cheese: Use your favorite homemade mac and cheese recipe. Alternatively, make boxed, add some extra cheese, and bake it with a crunchy topping. I won’t judge.
- Squash Soup: The boxed squash soup is not very expensive and is downright tasty. I always top it with some sour cream and chopped walnuts.
- Dumplings: I grew up in the south where chicken and dumplings were always a holiday side. My mom and granny always made rolled dumplings basically like this.
- Scalloped potatoes: These are so festive I forgot to put them with the plain taters. Because they have no cheese, they’re far less expensive to make than an au gratin.
- Festive Salad: Make a basic salad with ingredients you can find inexpensively. (Green) Top it with dried cranberries (Red) and feta cheese (White.) Boom. It’s instantly festive. Use a homemade honey balsamic dressing and toss it yourself right before serving.
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce: Ten billion and twelve times better than canned. Here’s a recipe.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Adding some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar at the end and cooking for 5 more minutes elevates this to whole new levels.
- Dinner Rolls: Bake em, buy em. If you top them with some butter and serve them hot from the oven, everyone will love it.
- Carrots: Roast them with honey, steam them, or make coins with butter sauce.
- Corn: My fam loves hot buttered corn, creamed corn from a can, or if you want to be fancy, you can try this tasty-as-heck corn casserole.
- Christmas Cookies: Here are some recipes straight from the pantry.
- Pie: This is one thing that is cheaper to buy than to make yourself. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
- Cake: Whether you make it from a mix or from scratch, it can be a lovely and reasonably priced end to the meal.
- Oreo Truffles: I thought I died and went to heaven the first time I tried these. Holy guacamole. Please guard them if you bring them to my house because I will eat them all.
- Peppermint cocoa: Literally hot cocoa with a candy cane stir stick.
Please don’t blow your entire grocery budget on one meal. Focus on togetherness. Focus on presentation. Don’t go buy things you cannot afford. Your loved ones will be just as happy with a meal that doesn’t mean you’re starving for the next month.
What are your favorite frugal and festive holiday foods? Do you have some that we didn’t include here? Let’s discuss it in the comments.