During Christmas I always like to go the extra mile when it comes to the food we eat. This doesn’t always go as planned and certainly doesn’t mean I always stay in budget. Let me explain to you how I learned the hard way to budget for Christmas dinner and how I do it this year.
Last year we planned on having one dinner at home as a family and one dinner at my parents. For the dinner at home I wanted to make something special and I decided to go for fish. I looked for a recipe and found something that sounded amazing and didn’t need many ingredients (score!). So I got most of the ingredients at a local supermarket and bought the fish at a fish store. I ordered a ‘Noordzee tong’ which is a Dutch fish. I asked for the two smallest fish because we don’t eat that much and I knew fish was expensive. Well, it was extremely expensive! I had two fish and needed to pay €38/$45 for it! For just two fish! And do you know what the worst part was? We didn’t even like the fish!
Well, this made me think about next year’s dinner and how I would do things differently. I wanted to prevent this from happening again. So here’s what I decided to do.
Prepare for Christmas early
One important thing I did different this year, is think about Christmas early. You might have already seen this post and noticed that I started thinking about it in August! There are several reasons why I did this, but one of the main reasons is my budget. I decided to do some shopping early this year, which means I’ll have a bit more stretch in that budget when it comes to buying food in December.
Another thing I did is plan ahead for our Christmas days:
On the 24th we go to church and have a sandwich in the car on our way up, so that won’t be an expensive meal.
On the 25th we will stay at home and have dinner as a family. I am already looking at what I want to make for dinner and try to buy some items in advance, e.g. when I need pasta in the recipe I can buy an extra pack of spaghetti from this week’s budget instead of buying it all at the same time, the week before Christmas. This will help me to have a lower cost in the week of Christmas and won’t blow my budget for the next few weeks either.
On the 26th (we have 2 Christmas days here in the Netherlands..) we go out for dinner with my side of the family, so I don’t have to prepare anything. I do set aside a bit of money every week, just to make sure we can afford it in December. Going out for dinner is not cheap, so it’s smart to be prepared!
Budget for Christmas Dinner
One thing I learned from last year, is to look up what a certain recipe will cost me, and if I think it will be worth it. If I’d done my research last year, I would not have bought the fish. But I didn’t do any research and ended up regretting my buy. So be smart and budget for your dinner.
But how do you budget for a Christmas dinner? I think this is personal for everyone and depends on how much you can afford. For me, I don’t want to spend more than $20 extra for that week. So that means I have $70 to spend for that week’s food, including Christmas dinner. And, since I don’t have to buy food for the 24th and 26th that should be more than enough!
Don’t go overboard
Another thing I decided to do this year is keep things low key. I want to have a nice breakfast on Christmas day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive! Just a glass of fresh orange juice and some pancakes is good enough for me!
For the Christmas dinner itself I don’t go overboard either. Last year our son was too young to eat with us and had his own meal and went to bed early. This year he will eat with us, so I don’t want to prepare anything fancy. A nice piece of meat and some veggies will do.
Keep it simple and just enjoy the moment instead of the expensive food!
I am also planning on not buying too many treats. I love nice treats and could possibly buy all the things in the store, but that’s not going to happen this time. We want to eat healthier and want to keep costs down. So I will probably make my own pie or buy one special one from the store.
How are you going to plan this year’s Christmas dinner? Any tips and tricks to keep the costs low? Let me know in the comments!