Whether you’re hosting a holiday meal in your home this season, attending a potluck, or ditching the kitchen and heading to one of the many first-rate restaurants in and around Bergen County with your loved ones, costs can add up! The last thing you want to do is spend more on a dinner than you did on your gift list. Here are some tips to help you stay frugal but festive.
Think inside the box
Alcohol usually ends up consuming a big chunk of the bill when hosting a party. If you’re planning to serve a considerable amount of wine, you can save a bit by opting for a case instead of individual bottles, but you may also want to consider boxed wine. Believe it or not, the category has made a comeback with premium-quality options that have earned praise from wine consumers and connoisseurs alike. Boxes come in different sizes, each containing the equivalent of a number of bottles of wine; this equates to reduced packaging and shipping costs, which leads to lower pricing on shelf.
Pep up your presentation
Casserole-style dishes like macaroni & cheese, potatoes au gratin and dessert crumbles are a hit at pretty much any dinner table, any time. For a festive flair, try dividing these dishes into eye-catching individual portions by serving them in ramekins. If you don’t have a set, get creative with other small serving vessels, or for a minor investment, you can purchase them at almost any retailer that carries bakeware. For example, Chef Central in Paramus Town Square carries them for $2.49 each.
Just as alcohol makes up a big portion of the cost of hosting a party, it is also often an expensive line item on your bill when dining out. One of the tried and true ways to keep prices down is to opt for a restaurant that allows you to bring your own alcohol. If you plan to go out for any holiday meals, we hope you stay local! One helpful Yelp user put together this list of BYOB restaurants in Bergen County.
Plan to make leftovers last
If you look forward to eating leftovers more than the first time you dig into to a meal, you’re not alone! For people who fall into this category, holiday leftovers are the ultimate jackpot. Stretch your budget by repurposing your original dishes into new meals as you head into the New Year. For example, dice up remaining ham to use in a tasty quiche; use leftover latkes as the base of an open-faced sandwich; and, if you have onions and potatoes, you can make a hash using pretty much any ingredient…roasted chicken, smoked fish, brisket—go nuts!
With all the commitments, planning, cooking and shopping that lead up to these big events during this busy time, it can often be tempting to just order takeout or make a pit stop at a local eatery. If this isn’t in your budget, do your future self a favor and the next time you make a meal, make twice as much and refrigerate or freeze the extra. You’ll thank yourself when you realize all you have to do is defrost and reheat.
Check your inventory
Before venturing out to fulfill your food and beverage shopping list, take a good look through your cabinets, pantry, refrigerator, freezer, wine and spice racks. There’s a good chance you’ll find unopened gravy, cranberry sauce, seasoning, chicken stock, a bottle of wine, or something else you can use. Be sure to check the expiration dates to ensure safe consumption!
While you’re at it, if you find something that’s still good but that you don’t want or need, channel the holiday spirit and help your fellow neighbors in need by dropping it off to a local food pantry, like our friends at the Office of Concern Food Pantry at St Cecilia’s Church in Englewood.
The holidays are about celebrating and spending time with loved ones, which you don’t need to break the bank to do. The last thing you want hovering over the season is financial stress. It’s never too soon to start thinking ahead to next year; set yourself up for smooth sailing by opening a Universal Club Account, which features a structured savings plan designed to help you save for special occasions like holiday shopping. As always, our Branch Associates are available to offer guidance to help you reach your financial goals, both short- and long-term.
To learn about NVE’s products and services, visit our website. You can also speak with one of our Branch Associates by visiting your convenient neighborhood branch, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).