- By Lauren Booker For the AJC
Preparing a successful Christmas dinner can be pulled off on a budget.
It doesn't take a fortune to set up a multiple-dish meal that can get your dinner guests full and leave them satisfied.
Create a budget.
Form your budget for the dinner ahead of time and keep in mind how many guests you will be feeding. This will help you stick to your desired amount of spending while making sure that everyone leaves full. When crafting the budget, make sure that each product you will need is also listed out so that everything necessary for your dishes is accounted for.
Shop ahead of time.
Seek out deals at your local grocery stores in advance. Checking for coupons on products you will be using, and looking for deals on meats can come in handy for when it comes time to buy. In the meantime, you can store the goods in the freezer or cabinets until you are ready to use them.
Use minimal ingredients.
Cooking quality turkey can be achieved on a budget by simplifying the ingredients used to fix the bird. Grab bay leaves, lemon slices, small cloves and cinnamon sticks to cook a Bay and Lemon Brined Turkey. The Food Network recipe is easy to prepare and will serve around 15 people. Set aside time in advance for the turkey, because it will take almost 12 hours to cook it.
Make your own cranberry sauce.
What's a Christmas dinner without cranberry sauce? Skip buying the canned sauce in the store and make it at home to have a tasty dish that's affordable. You only need one pound of cranberries, apple juice and sugar to make this dish in 25 minutes. The finished result will feature chunks of cranberries in the sauce.
Turn the dinner into a potluck.
Have your guests pitch in and bring their own dishes to the dinner to help contribute to a well-rounded meal. If they ask what to bring, fill in the gaps on the menu by letting them know what is needed. An efficient holiday potluck would have enough main dishes, sides and desserts to go around. The more the merrier.
Craft DIY Christmas decor.
Showcase the holiday spirit by making your own dining room table centerpieces and decorative accents. Use affordable garland around the house, like on the banisters and door frames, to help set the Christmas mood. Make a sweet centerpiece by filling a clear glass vase you might already own with seasonal candies, such as peppermints and Hershey's kisses. Repurpose extra ornaments as a decorative piece by filling them in a festive bowl. Decking the halls can be achieved on a budget.
Trick the eye with smaller plates.
Serving food on slightly tinier dishes is an old trick that can fool the eye into thinking that there's more food on it than there really is. Use this optical illusion in your favor when picking out dishes for the occasion.