Stretching Those Holiday Food Dollars

The holiday season is a time to enjoy family, friends and of course, delicious food. Alabamians will spend much of this time of the year remembering reasons they are thankful and looking forward to a great meal. However, it’s also important to remember they can make healthy and budget-friendly options.

Stretching Those Holiday Food Dollars

By Dustin Duncan

Stretching Food Dollars

Making a budget and sticking to it during the holidays can seem challenging, but there are a few simple tips to remember when planning a holiday feast.

  • Create the menu early — Put some thought into what will be included in the dinner beforehand. Consider what’s in season, what’s on sale and what coupons can be found in the local newspaper or online. For example, sweet potatoes can be bought in advance and store well.
  • Talk to invited guests — If the holiday meal has invited guests bringing side dishes, talk to them in advance to avoid doubling up on food. This could save precious time and money at the store.
  • Think ahead — When shopping for the holiday feast, consider ways to use food more than once. Holiday meals often result in leftovers. Using those leftovers helps control the future food budget and produces less waste. Check out these leftover ideas from the USDA.
  • Swap out where you can — Grocery stores during the holidays will most likely have sales for items not included in a tight holiday meal budget. Consider opting for no-salt-added canned or frozen vegetables or dried beans.

What’s On The Menu?  

The holidays present opportunities to dine on many items that many wouldn’t consider healthy eating. While moderation is the key in most situations, it’s also important to remember that having a healthier holiday will most likely result in a better mood, more energy and overall better health.

“There are plenty of ways to make healthy choices during the holidays,” said Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Extension specialist and registered dietitian. “You don’t have to avoid your favorite holiday treats or traditional foods and beverages that are meaningful to you. Just find those areas where the healthier choice works for you and decide in advance how you plan to make your holiday a little healthier.”

Holiday Entrees

Any holiday meal doesn’t seem to be complete without a protein centerpiece. Skinless turkey or chicken, lean cuts of beef or a trimmed ham are leaner protein choices. Non-traditional or culturally diverse options for the holidays could include fish, such as cod or flounder, tofu or lentils. Be sure to trim the fat when cooking the meats. Also, watch the amount of gravy or additional sauces, as they tend to be high in saturated fat and sodium.

Side Dishes

No holiday meal is complete without tasty side dishes. Live Well Alabama has a few options that will satisfy the taste buds and won’t result in the evening sugar crash when spending time with the family.

Make sweet potatoes a dominant feature during the holiday meals this year. They are also the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries choice for harvest of the month. Live Well Alabama’s Cranberry and Spinach Sweet Potatoes are a twist on a baked potato that add color, flavor and fiber to a holiday meal.

If the previous recipe doesn’t satisfy the sweet potato lover, maybe Live Well’s Roasted Beets and Sweets recipe could do the trick. Combining classic vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes, it’s the perfect complement to a holiday meal.

Dressing and mashed potatoes also seem to be a focal point of many holiday meals. Try Live Well’s No-Fuss Cornbread Dressing for an easy recipe that doesn’t take too long to prepare. Also, Live Well’s Sneaky Mashed Potatoes is an excellent way to add vegetables to the holiday meal without anybody knowing.

More Information

For more information about Live Well Alabama or to find tasty recipes, visit or visit Live Well Alabama on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


SOURCEThe Bibb Voice
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As the Bibb County Coordinator for Alabama Extension, Michelle Giddens coordinates the implementation of all Extension programs in Bibb County in many program areas. These program areas include 4-H and Youth Development, Animal Sciences, Food Safety and Quality, Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, Family and Child Development, Family Resource Management and Workforce Development, Commercial Horticulture, Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, Farm and Agribusiness Management, and Community and Economic Development. Her experience includes with the eXtension Initiative at the University of Nebraska and with the eXtension Foundation; California State University, Fresno and Central Community College in Grand Island, NE. She currently serves on the board for Brierfield Fire and Rescue, a volunteer fire department serving Brierfield and Six Mile communities in Alabama