Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year; it brings joy, kindness, and warmth to colder weather and hearts. The Christmas season also brings family and friends together, usually involving elaborate dinners or trips to restaurants for group celebrations, not the mention the fast food consumption during shopping trips. It’s great at the moment, but we can be left with huge dents in our budget over the food costs which add to an already very expensive season.

A few ways to help reduce the great expense on your dinner outings and waste of food:

  • watch for coupons (dinner for two for the price of one, kids eat free, etc)
  • special offers (one of our local restaurants offers huge portions of starter and on Tuesdays, after 8 pm in the bar area the starter are half price – we ended up spending just under $20 and had enough food for almost 3 meals for 2 adults with decent appetites)
  • don’t be afraid to bring the leftovers home (makes a great midnight snack or lunch for the next day that you then don’t have to spend the time preparing a meal)
  • on another occasion, my wife and I have ordered one starter and one main meal and an extra plate knowing that we wouldn’t be able to eat a whole meal to ourselves, so we saved on our pocket and didn’t overeat stuffing ourselves to uncomfortableness. To avoid any messiness of transferring half the meal to another plate, you could ask the server to ensure this is done before it’s brought to your table
  • lots of the fast food places may be better on your time budget, but not on your financial budget, not to mention the extra pounds put on over the holidays :)
  • try the deli counter at the grocery store and ask them to make a sandwich, or couple of different selections from their salad counter
  • some quick healthy munchies from the grocery store (small veggie plate, a box of crackers, a small brick of cheese) can help tide you over until you can get home to some leftovers or something else quick
  • if you plan ahead, you could pack a lunch or dinner that could be eaten along your travels, in between stops
  • if you’re having a group outing, you could plan for a potluck meal at someone’s house or at your choice of location that allows you to bring your own food

What are some creative ways that you have saved your budget on the pile-up of bills from meal outings during the busy Christmas season?