Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Dinner- Frugal Style- Entire Meal Under $16

Is there such a thing as a frugal Christmas dinner?
In our family- all big dinners are potluck- everyone does their part to fill out the menu for the big dinners.
Even farthest family (two hour drive) would bring something- such as a gallon of milk and a bag of dinner rolls. We aren’t too picky between store bought and homemade on most things.
To be frugal- potluck is the way to go.
For many years, Christmas day was all about a big family gathering that lasted all the day long… then a couple of Christmas’s ago we stepped back and upset the apple cart by admitting that we’d like a quiet, more reflective Christmas with just our little family…. It was our most loveliest Christmas to date.
This year we’re going halfsies—a lovely Christmas dinner here at home just us and then traveling to my parents for supper with them and my brother’s family. Supper is potluck and you can be sure I’m bringing my spoonbread…
But back to the question at hand- a frugal Christmas dinner? Can it be done?
Here’s our plan…
Last week, Meijer had smoked boneless ham on sale for $1.49/lb.—I purchased two- both around 6.7 lbs and each costing a few pennies over $10. After bringing the ham home, we immediately cut it up- first we cut the ham in half, then we sliced each half and bagged and tagged it for the freezer. Last week we cooked up one half for dinner with friends and used another quarter of it to make scalloped ham and potatoes. For Christmas dinner we’ll use another half.

Main Dish

Christmas Ham
Approximately 3 lbs. of sliced ham
2/3 cup BBQ sauce, your favorite brand
1/3 cup water
Place sliced ham in crockpot, measure out BBQ sauce in one cup measuring cup- add water to top and stir with a fork until well mixed. Pour BBQ sauce mixture over ham and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
This Christmas ham will feed my family of five and cost me just over $5 with plenty of leftovers.

Side Dishes

Mr. Steady’s Dirty Mashed Potatoes
5 lbs. russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
(Keep the skins on! It adds vitamins!)
6 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
Milk … approximation unknown
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook potatoes in covered pot of water on medium-high heat for approximately 45 minutes or until fork pokes easily through a big chunk. Drain, put back in pot and begin mashing. Add butter, sour cream and cream cheese. Keep mashing. Begin pouring small amounts of milk in (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time) and continue mashing until you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. We don’t over-mash our potatoes as we like them lumpy- lets us know they’re real!
Steady Family Frugal Cooking Tip: We keep those bottles or ranch dressing that have only a dibby-dab left—we pour some milk into the container, shake it up and pour it into the potatoes… a little extra zing!
Cost: ½ a 10 lb. bag of potatoes- $1.44, $1 for butter (got butter on sale for $1.99/lb), $.65 for sour cream ($1.29 for 16 oz. container at Aldi), $.67 for cream cheese ($.89 at Aldi for a 8 oz brick) and roughly 25 cents for milk, ranch dressing and salt/pepper (Milk- $1.99/gal at Aldi). So that totals up to approximately $4.00.

My mama-in-law’s spoonbread (recipe here).  Approximate cost: $4.00.

We’ll round out the dinner with a greens salad. Romaine lettuce topped with chopped Roma tomatoes from Meijer ($1.49 for lettuce head and we’ll use half/40 cents for tomatoes) and a sprinkling of a mixture of Romano and Mozzarella shredded cheese (in my fridge) topped with a drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette (Kraft brand from my fridge but bought at Meijer for $1.58 awhile ago). Approximate cost: $1.50
Ginger Ale in fancy glasses for our beverage… 84 cents.
Totalling everything up… our Christmas Dinner come out to approximately $15.34.
And we’ll have plenty of leftovers which will be incorporated into our meals for the remainder of the week.
That seems like a pretty frugal and incredibly tasty Christmas Dinner!

Side Note: Timesavers-- Putting the ham in the crockpot and cooking it while we are at church is a huge time saver. Other time savers: we'll chunk the potatoes and put them in a pot of water with a couple dashes or salt late afternoon on Saturday plus I'll mix up the spoonbread batter on Saturday too. The spoonbread will bake while the potatoes cook on the stove and while that's going on, I'll be making the salad and setting the table... all within an hour's time. Wonderful!


  1. Amy, If you can, would you take a picture of your spoonbread? Is it creamy? I am having a hard time imagining what it is like.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  2. Oh Yes, I will but it won't post until after Christmas... Merry Christmas Lynne!



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