It’s Christmas Eve and you’re just about to put your turkey in the oven when you’re struck with horror. You’ve forgotten about dessert! No pie, no cake, no cookies, what will your family do? It’s too late to go to the grocery store at this hour. The next thing you know your family is eating cornbread after dinner because that’s all that’s left.
We’ve all faced last-minute Christmas shopping blues. Shopping late comes with its consequences, however. First, you have to deal with the crowds and long lines that are a whole new level of chaos. Second, when you’re short on time, you miss out on discounts and savings. If you wait too long, you might not even be able to find most of the ingredients you need.
Don’t risk your Christmas meal by putting off shopping. The earlier you tackle your grocery list, the more time you’ll have to focus on what matters most during the holidays. Here’s how to prepare for Christmas grocery shopping early to save money and time.
Make a List (and Check It Twice!)
First, you need to make a clear list of everything you need. This involves meal planning in advance. If you’re a “pantser” instead of a “planner” when it comes to cooking, now’s the time to nail down some solid ideas.
Write out everything you need for those famous Christmas cookies and your holiday ham. Compare your list of ingredients with what you already have in your pantry to check off anything you don’t need to buy. Grocery shopping starts at home, so never forget to shop your own pantry first.
Of course, your list means nothing if you can’t stick to it. It does take discipline to walk away from that sale on wine or ice cream, but remember you’re on a mission. If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
Budget Down on Holiday Eats
Do you really need to serve two types of meat this year? If you’re worried about overspending at the holidays (and let’s face it: who isn’t?) consider cutting down on just how much you’re planning to cook. This will also save you some stress when it comes time to cook for your family.
This is a great chance to invite your friends and family to contribute to your holiday meal. If you’re inviting a big group, have everyone bring a side or a dessert. Not only does this mean a buffet of yummy food, but you’ll have to buy significantly less at the grocery store.
Start Early With Non-Perishables
When it comes to holiday groceries, you can actually begin stocking up a few months in advance if you start with non-perishables. Things like canned fruits, frozen veggies, and spices have long shelf lives and are just as good since they’re preserved at peak freshness.
Whole wheat grains, rice, sugar, salt, honey, and many other grocery items can be purchased earlier when they’re on sale. Save your perishable shopping until a week or two before, and store your finds in the freezer.
Purchasing your grocery needs over the course of a few weeks (or months!) is less stressful than joining the mad dash to the grocery store in those final hours. You’ll also be able to land the best discounts. Just make sure you have enough space in your freezer!
Now you’re ready to conquer the holidays without having a mid-grocery store meltdown about the price of turkey. This is the time of year when you want to spend time with your family and focus on what matters most. What are you cooking this year for Christmas? Do you have plans to get a head start on shopping?