5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries During the Holidays, According to a Financial Expert

updated Nov 10, 2022
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The holidays are a time of cheer — and also a time of heavy spending. If you’re clamoring to find the best way to serve a delicious holiday dinner without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered. Kumiko Love, accredited financial counselor and founder of The Budget Mom, has offered up five stellar tips for keeping that grocery budget manageable, without forsaking any of that holiday spirit. Read on for her holiday shopping advice.

1. Have a “splitsies” strategy.

Large family gatherings, Love says, are the perfect opportunity to divide up some of the labor — as well as the cost. “If you are hosting a large family gathering, have everyone contribute a dish,” she says. For those who prefer to do the cooking themselves, Love has a solution for that, too: “Ask friends and family to help contribute to the grocery bill,” she says. If you’re wondering: Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your sister to chip in! You are feeding her, after all!

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2. Minimize the must-haves.

If you do decide to go it alone, opt for a menu that highlights your and your kitchen’s strengths. “You don’t need 20 fancy sides,” Love advises. Instead, she suggests sticking to a few recipes that incorporate simple ingredients or household staples that you may already have on hand.

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3. Buy the store-brand option.

Whether it’s because your go-to brand isn’t available or you just want to cut down on costs (or both!) stores’ private-label brands are really good options, and their assortment just keeps on getting better. For example, you might have heard Kitchn Editors rave about Kirkland Signature once or twice. Ditto for Target’s Good & Gather brand.

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4. Make a cash-only food budget.

In order to trim cost, Love says, you have to know what you can afford to spend. “Look over your budget and decide how much you can realistically spend on food over the holidays,” she says. Then, to keep track of how much you’re actually spending and make sure you don’t go over, Love says to pay with cash at the grocery store.

5. Learn the sales cycles in advance.

Grocery stores operate on pricing cycles and, Love says, it’s worth paying attention to them in order to get the best deals possible. “One thing you want to pay attention to is ‘loss leaders,’ she says. “These are food items that grocery stores will drop their price on to entice shoppers to come to their store.” Track your go-to store’s sales for a few weeks and you’ll see some patterns emerge. Then, you can aim to restock on certain items only when they’re on sale.

Got any other tips to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!