Cheap Holiday Meal Ideas

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Assorted holiday buffet dishes on a red tablecloth.
Assorted holiday buffet dishes on a red tablecloth. (Image: adlifemarketing/iStock/Getty Images)

Entertaining family and guests during the holidays doesn't have to empty your wallet. Stay within budget during the holidays by considering non-traditional menu items that are appetizing but less expensive than serving traditional cuts of meat with all the fixings. You don't have to sacrifice taste to make holiday meals on a budget when you move away from the common sit-down dinner and opt for a buffet-style, pot-luck or tasting party.

The Main Dish

A main dish of prime rib, pork roast or whole turkey is more expensive than pasta, soup or a vegetarian entree, but you can opt for cheaper cuts of meat if you want to keep more with tradition. Choose a rump roast or pork chops over more expensive cuts of meat, and consider a dish made with chicken thighs instead of a large turkey. Rump roast also can be substituted for brisket during Hanukkah and Passover as long as it's kosher. Pasta with sausage, quiche, flavorful soups, rich stews and spicy meatless dishes may be as festive as a roast.

The Event

Thinking outside the box when it comes to holiday entertaining may save you money. Rather than a sit-down dinner with several courses, invite friends and family over for a dessert-sampling, fondue or an appetizer party. Share the financial burden by throwing a pot-luck or a wine-tasting party, and ask guests to bring a main or side dish or a bottle of wine. A buffet, taco bar or pasta bar also keeps the overall cost down.

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