Make Out Your Baking List ASAP
The sooner you decide what you're going to be making, the longer you'll have to hunt down a good deal on all of the necessary ingredients.
Pair Coupons and SalesCoupons for processed foods are the norm most of the year, but in November and December, you'll find lots of coupons for things like flour, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and other baking essentials. Clip and print all the coupons you can. Then, wait for those items to go on sale at the grocery store.
Watch the Drug Store Circulars
CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid run fantastic deals on baking supplies during the holidays, and their spices are an absolute steal. Watch for opportunities to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon and a sale, and you could come home with a few freebies to tuck in your pantry.
Tip: Drug store often include nuts in their Black Friday sale.
Give your budget and yourself a break by cutting a few things from your must-make list. As long as you keep your family's favorites in the lineup, no one will care (and if they do, offer to pass on the recipe, so they can make those things next year).
Inventory Your Pantry
You may already have many of the ingredients that go into your holiday goodies. Take stock of what's in your pantry. Then, build your grocery list from there. Not sure if something is still fresh? Here's a chart to help you decide:
Check and Recheck Your Spice Rack
Before you buy any new spices, take another look at your spice rack to be sure you don't already have what you need. It's easy to forget about spices that you only use once or twice a year, and frustrating to waste money (and space) on duplicates.
Right-Size Your Purchases
If you only need a small amount of something – dried fruit, nuts, a particular spice – it may be cheaper to buy it from the bulk bins. Take a minute to crunch the numbers, and see.
Do More from Scratch
Skip the ready-made pie crusts, doughs and baking mixes. If you keep a few pantry staples on hand – flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. – you can whip up your own for a fraction of the cost, and they'll probably taste better, too.
Make Your Own Holiday Spice Mixes
Need apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice for a recipe? They're both easy to make, and you probably already have everything that you need to make them:
Find Substitutes for Expensive Ingredients
Nuts are a mainstay in many holiday recipes, but they really add to the cost of a recipe. If you don't have room in your budget for them, try one of these substitutes.
More Cost-Saving Substitutes
Avoid Extra Trips to the Store
If you find you've forgotten an ingredient that you need, see if you can find a subtitute to take its place: