Festive meals planned on a budget

The holidays may look different this year as we adjust to the changes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many will have smaller family gatherings than usual. Others who have faced financial challenges related to the pandemic may be looking to stretch their dollar a little farther.

However your table looks this year, the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program has five tips for a healthy and budget-friendly holiday meal.

1. Plan, plan, plan

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Planning is the key to success, and the first step is deciding on a budget. Once you’ve set your spending limit, it is important to stick to it.

2. Review grocery sales flyers and consider produce that’s in-season

If you know what products are on sale and which fresh produce is in season, you can build your menu around that information.

3. Determine your menu and guest list, then prepare your shopping list

Think about the items that you and your family enjoy. Based on sale items and seasonal produce, make a list of foods that you would like to prepare. The list may include appetizers, soup, salad, entrée, side items and dessert. Recipe ideas are abundant online, but the UF/IFAS Extension FNP website is one location for many tasty and healthy recipes you could consider: familynutritionprogram.org/recipes.

After you prepare your menu, think about how many people will attend your holiday gathering. This will determine the number of servings and the amount of food you should purchase.

4. Check your pantry

Your pantry may already contain some needed items. Look there first and check those off your shopping list.

5. Look for more money-saving opportunities

The goal once you arrive at the grocery store is to stick to the shopping list. Check unit prices for the best deals. Located on the price tag, unit price provides the cost of the food item in ounces or pounds. If you have coupons for planned shopping items, pair them with sale items for additional cost savings.

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