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Budget-Minded Holiday Celebrations


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The holidays are wonderful. And they can be very stressful. Suddenly there are so many more expenses than the month before! For a family on a tight budget, that can be very tough. One of the keys to living frugally is sticking to a budget, and holiday expenses can make that very, very difficult. But careful planning makes it possible.

Holidays don’t come as a surprise. If we plan and budget for them, we can still save money AND have a  festive celebration.

Here are a few tips for celebrating without going over budget:

1. Become a really price sensitive shopper. Don’t buy sweet potatoes (an example) for your holiday meal if they are suddenly priced through the roof (This really does happen here in Israel. Sweet potatoes will be 3 shekels/kg sometimes, and at others, nearly 20 shekels/kg.). It doesn’t matter if you always served sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. If the price is not right, substitute something else. (Or maybe you were really truly awesome and you planned in advance and bought them when they were really affordable, and prepared your holiday sweet potato dish and it’s already waiting in the freezer! If that’s you, you are THE BEST!)

2. Since you know there’s a holiday looming, look for extra ways to spend a bit less each week on consumables and food than you would normally, for a month or so beforehand. I have no problem serving chicken wings for Shabbat meals, purchased on sale, for a few weeks, so that the bigger expense of the holiday meal doesn’t overwhelm me.

3. Save oven time – prep a whole bunch of foods, and only put them in the oven when there is enough to fill the oven. It truly saves energy. I know, Israeli ovens are small. Mine has three racks though, and if I plan carefully, I can fit a lot in (round baking pans, however, are not conducive to saving space. I rarely use them anymore, rectangular pans fit a lot better).

4. Make ordinary foods seem festive by making a slight change. Add a small amount of dried cranberries to your cornbread, or change the spices you use for roasted potatoes. Roast some peppers to jazz up an otherwise ordinary salad… make inexpensive chicken with an exotic recipe… the possibilities go on and on. (My cornbread recipe below uses about 3 shekels ($0.75) worth of dried cranberries, so it’s not an over-the-top addition.)

Festive Cornbread with Cranberries (eggless)

5. Consider eggless baking. I use ground flaxseed as an egg substitute, and I’ve discovered that not only are there some great health benefits, it also costs me less to use flaxseed than eggs.

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About Ester Silber-Schachter


I am a homeschooling mother of 4 who lives in the Jezreel Valley in Northern Israel. I made Aliyah with my husband and children in 2010, and we are so happy that we were finally able to make that dream come true!

I am a dedicated penny-pincher and love to cook healthy foods for my family without breaking the bank. I blog about my adventures in saving, spending, and cooking in Israel at Frugal and Kosher.




14 Responses to Budget-Minded Holiday Celebrations

  1. B”H

    Great ideas! Wonderful recipes! Thanks for the refreshing recipes and healthful enforcement of our gastronomical creations!

  2. Could you please tell us more in a future article about using flax seed as an egg substitute in recipes.

  3. Great idea! Will do that soon!

  4. avatar says: Emily

    Great ideas! Thanks! We had vegan friends staying with us this summer, so I also learned the flax trick ;)

  5. These are such fantastic (and important!) tips! Thanks for taking the time to post on this area of food prep and holidays! Much appreciated!

  6. avatar says: wendylm

    Way to go, Ester! So glad to see you on one of my favorites sites! Great ideas! Chanukah Sameach to you and yours! :)

  7. avatar says: Judy S

    The shopping tips are great. And I’m going to make that cornbread. It looks delish! Hope my husband will try something different. What does flaxseed do to the texture of the food? Thanks

    • Please let me know if he’s willing to try it! ;-)
      Flaxseed really doesn’t change the texture, just be sure it’s ground before you use it as an egg substitute. I’ll be posting more info about it, or you can check out some of the dessert recipes on my blog to see how I use it. If you are using whole grains for baking, the color of the flaxseed won’t matter, but if you use white flour, you will get a darker color than you’re used to, and perhaps even some flecks…

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