SOS Mom Saver: Keep Your Holiday Grocery Budget Under Control

We're officially headed into the holiday season now.  This week, stores started their holiday baking sales. 

I'm sure we've all had our grocery budgets totally busted in November and/or December thanks to holiday meals, parties, & baking. 

Did you know that you can actually stay ON budget during the holiday season?  You can, but it will require careful planning NOW!

There will always be that unexpected party during the holiday season.  I know this.  So I try to plan for the unexpected.  I would rather end up with too much holiday food than not enough.

What do you need to do NOW to save money on holiday baking? 
  • Make a list of what you are going to need for the holidays.  I mean make a list of EVERYTHING you are going to need for the holidays:
    • Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years meals
    • Office, school, church, bible study, and any other parties
    • Baking you'll do for gifts, cookie-exchanges, just to have around for the holidays
    • Candy you'll make for parties, gifts, and/or just to have around
    • Any other food needs you'll have specific to the holidays
  • Write down the ingredients for any foods you are cooking:
    • Mark off what you already have on hand (consider marking items you have on hand as a holiday item & instruct family members not to eat or use those foods)
    • Make a list of what you need to buy in the coming weeks
    • Prioritize your list according to when you need the items to make sure you have what you need when you need it
  • Start scouring the weekly sale ads.  You'll find many baking & other holiday food items on sale starting this week.  The week of Thanksgiving, expect $.30-$.50/lb specials for whole turkeys.  Don't just buy for Thanksgiving!  Buy for Christmas as well while it's cheap!
  • Look for coupons!
    • Check the manufacturer's website to see if they have any current coupons out that you can print.  
    • If you already have coupons, check a database like the one at Hot Coupon World to see if there's a coupon currently out for that item. 
    • Be sure to check products when you're in the store.  Many of them have coupons (called "peelies") ON the items.  Right now, I know there are peelies on Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, some Crisco oil products, & several other items in the baking aisle.
    • Check for "blinkies" which are coupons in the little red machines or boxes on the shelf by the product.
    • Ask the store if they have any holiday coupon booklets.  Many do and some include store coupons for a certain dollar amount off of a minimum purchase (for example, a $5/$50).  In most cases, you give this coupon to the cashier first before handing over any manufacturer coupons.
  • When you find a good deal on an item in your list, buy as much as you'll need NOW!  (In other words, let's say you need 3 cans of chicken broth for Thanksgiving dinner & 3 cans for Christmas dinner.  They're on sale now for $.49 (usually $.99) with a coupon out for $.50/2.  You buy all 6 now so you can combine the sale with the coupon to get the best price.  In this case, you would pay $.48 for every 2 cans you bought for a total of  $1.44 for all 6 cans or $.24/can.)  In the example I gave, you just saved yourself $4.50 which you can use to purchase other items or as a help to keep your budget in tact over the holidays.
What are your favorite ways to save money on groceries during the holidays?  What do you do to keep your holiday grocery budget in check?

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