How to Shop for A Budget-Friendly Noche Buena
It's barely 12 days before Christmas and the rush is on for mommies out there eager to get every ingredient for their Noche Buena menu. The Noche Buena feast is an essential part of every Filipino family’s celebration and we hope nothing more than to serve only the best for our loved ones.
Did you know that you can serve sumptuous delights without draining your wallets? Yes, you can do a lot to save more from your Christmas bonus!
Below are tips from Mama Bear on how to extend your budget and still enjoy the sweetest meal of the holiday season:
Set your budget
How much are you willing to spend for the feast? Setting a budget will give you a guide on which dishes to include in your menu. It is also essential to consider the number of people present during the night. You might want to add up a bit for visitors or relatives who would be coming over to celebrate with you.
Setting a budget will help you simplify your costs and choose cheaper ingredients as an alternative without compromising the quality. Plan early on and make a list not just of what to serve but also those who are going to be present. Family gatherings don't need to be expensive. You can suggest potluck wherein each attendee can contribute a dish of his choice.
Create a Noche Buena menu
Make a list of your family’s favorites. There are times when one dish might look and taste the same as the other. For instance, you need to decide which one among afritada, menudo, and caldereta will be best for the entire family. These three dishes almost come in the same guise with a few twists. You can opt to serve only one sauced dish, one fried dish, one pasta, one soup, and one dessert. Appetizers can be made inexpensive and simple, especially if you have the skill to craft unique starters.
Try to slash out a few recipes that you can also actually serve for Media Noche. You don’t even have to buy everything your family wants to eat that night. A little dash of variety can already spice up the feast.
Here is a guide you can use when planning your menu for 3-5 persons:
Php 350.00 – Chicken Sopas
Php 450.00 – Spaghetti
Php 350.00 – Lumpiang Shanghai
Php 300.00 – Liempo
Php 1,450.00 Total cost
Php 700.00 – Bulalo (this dish provides meat, soup, and vegetable)
Php 280.00 – Chicken barbeque
Php 300.00 – Pancit Guisado
Php 500.00 – Fruit Salad
Php 1,780.00 Total cost
You can always mix and match two dishes and more depending on your budget. The approximate minimum cost above can still be lower or even higher.
Make a complete list of what to buy
Creating that list will help you buy only the necessary ingredients for your menu. It will save you from spending beyond your budget. Stay within your plan, and you certainly will pay less on impulse buying. Don’t forget to take your list with you when you shop. You can take a photo of what you need to buy to avoid holding a cramped paper while shopping. With a listing on hand, you can start searching and comparing online prices. Modify your list as needed before heading to the supermarket.
Devote enough time to shop
It’s the time of the year when everyone keeps on rushing around, and this won’t do good to your “shopping-on-a-budget” venture. Having enough time will let you compare the prices of different brands. You can even check out what’s on sale and stay away from regular priced items.
Try to avoid weekends and if you cant, make sure you do the shopping in the morning. This is when people will only start crowding the malls and grocery stores, plus you don’t need to get through slow traffic. As much as possible, don’t shop around the 15th and 30th of the month. You can use your credit cards before those dates to save yourself from the stress of shopping during paydays.
Homemade products are generally cheaper compared to their grocery-sold counterparts. Rellenong Bangus, kakanin, lumpiang shanghai, barbeque, and a lot more are offered by someone you might know. Aside from helping out small business owners, you can even negotiate for prices, especially when you buy in bulk.
Look for the wholesale price but never buy bundled packages
Some grocery stores offer ingredients in a basket which seem to be cheaper but not. Some of the ingredients might already be in your kitchen, so buying in the bundle might be an extra cost. It would help check what's already in your kitchen to make sure you do away with bundled packages and end up buying something you don’t need.
Bundled packages may lead to having unwanted stuff. For instance, fruit salad bundles may come with other ingredients like raisins, nata de coco, and kaong, which you may not want to be included in your recipe.
Buy with credit card promos
Most credit card issuers offer tons of discounts and privileges when you use your card for shopping. Check which among your credit cards will give you the best cashback or rebates for groceries.
Christmas can be very expensive, but you can always reduce your expenditures through planning, creating a budget, and exploring other possible options to buy what you need. It takes a cup of patience, a teaspoon of an initiative, and an ounce of resourcefulness to make the holidays fun yet affordable.
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