11 Affordable Recipes to Make on Holidays Gatherings

By Kim Galeta

Without careful planning, playing host during the holidays can be expensive and stressful. 

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of holiday menu ideas on a budget to show you that it’s possible to impress your guests without putting a dent in your bank account

Take a look at 11 affordable dishes that won’t break the bank. Better yet, all of these menu options are $50 or less!

11 Holiday Menu Ideas on a Budget for 6

Note: All pricing is mainly based on shopping at my local stores in New Jersey. We are also assuming that you already have all the basics in your pantry including: flour, white sugar, popular spices, olive oil and so on.

1. Ham Steak Menu

Get the traditional feel of the holidays without investing in a whole ham. My store has ham steaks for as low as $0.36/oz and you’ll need around 3oz per guest.

Total Cost: $27.70

2. Christmas Shepherd’s Pie Menu

If you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes on hand or veggies that need to be used up, then your total out-of-pocket cost will be even lower with this classic menu option. 

Total cost: $27.89

3. Turkey Dinner Menu

If you’re not tired of turkey yet, then you might consider serving it again around Christmastime! My local Aldi is currently running a deal on frozen bone-in turkey breast for $1.99 per pound.

Total cost: $29.34

4. Pork Loin Roast Menu

At the time of writing, my local grocery store has a 10lb fresh whole boneless pork loin on sale for $12.90, making this one of the most affordable menu options for the holidays.

Total Cost: $29.63

5. Holiday Brisket Menu

This hearty meal doesn’t require too much time slaving away in the kitchen. 

Total Cost: $35.03

6. Lamb Chop Menu

Lamb chops offer an excellent alternative to a leg of lamb recipe. 

Total Cost: $35.39

7. Beef Bourguignon Menu

This budget option to roast beef is sure to be hit this holiday season.

Total cost: $36.76

8. Cornish Hens Menu

This meal sounds and tastes fancy but without the price tag!

Total Cost: $38.60

9. Seafood Mac and Cheese Menu 

This non-traditional menu idea is sure to please if you’ve got seafood lovers on the guest list. I love this option because it only requires 1lb of your favorite seafood. I would also suggest skipping the lobster! Plus, it’s a one-dish meal that’s easy to put together. 

Total Cost:$47.02

10. Salmon Menu

This is a pricer menu option ($11.99/lb of salmon), but it’s still under $50! You’ll need to budget for around half a pound of salmon per guest

Total Cost: $48.23

11. Bonus: Holiday Brunch Menu

The holiday brunch is a wonderful alternative to hosting a dinner because the ingredients are so affordable, allowing you to offer several menu options. Plus, you get to wrap up your hosting duties by the afternoon, leaving plenty of time to watch your favorite holiday movies before it gets too late!

Total cost: $41.89 

5 Pro Tips for Holiday Menu Ideas on a Budget

  1. Start Early: Whether you’re buying groceries for yourself or planning a holiday menu, creating a plan at least several days in advance will keep your costs (and stress levels) low.
  2. Choose One or Two Main Dishes: You can either do one dish or a half and half menu. Whatever you do, maintain the same total number of pounds of meat in order to stick to your budget.
  3. Make Your Affairs BYOB: Liquor costs can add up fast, so ask your guests to contribute their favorite bottle of booze.
  4. DIY Tablescapes: Try to see what items you have on hand to create a welcoming tablescape that only looks expensive. Pinterest has loads of ideas for this one but the nature tablescape – using gathered pinecones, leaves and sticks – happens to be my favorite!
  5. Make Apps Using Pantry Items: Just be sure to check the expiration dates on packaged goods before you put them on a platter. Here are a few examples of easy appetizers using items from your pantry:

We hope these holiday menu ideas on a budget will encourage you to keep saving money the next time you’re asked to play host for your friends or family. Happy holidays from all of us at Chime!

Kim Galeta has been a professional writer since 2009 focusing primarily on personal finance but also dabbling in tech, health & wellness and small business. She holds an MBA in finance and corporate strategy from the University of Florida.

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