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Keep your food budget in check during the holiday season

By Staff | Dec 24, 2012

How can you maintain your food budget and eat healthfully during the holidays?

During the holiday season, we often enjoy special foods and visits from family members and friends. Sometimes that adds up to higher food bills.

Enjoy a variety of foods, and consider some cost-saving strategies for each of the food groups.


Buy regular rice and oatmeal instead of instant varieties to save money and calories, and avoid added sweeteners.

Look for bargains on day-old bread. It costs less and is still nutritious.


Buy large bags of frozen vegetables if they are the best buy. Seal tightly in the freezer between uses.

Compare prices between bagged salad mixes and heads of lettuce. You may save money by cleaning and preparing your own greens.


Buy fresh fruit when it is in season. Purchase the amount you can use within a few days.

Frozen and canned fruits are good buys all year round.


Buy fresh, low-fat milk in the largest size that you can use before it spoils.

Consider using nonfat dry milk mixed with water as a substitute for fluid milk, especially in cooking and baking.

Meat and Beans

Compare prices of different cuts of meat. For example, bottom round roast is lower in fat and less expensive than sirloin, although it may be less tender. Use less-tender cuts in soup and stew.

Consider beans and peas as a good source of protein and fiber. They last a long time in your cupboard, too.

Look for sales on meat. If you buy in bulk, rewrap the meat in recipe-sized amounts at home. To preserve the quality and prevent freezer burn, use freezer paper.

Grandma Jensen’s Nuts and Bolts

2 cups bite-size wheat square cereal (such as Wheat Chex)

2 cups bite-size corn square cereal (such as Corn Chex)

2 cups bite-size rice square cereal (such as Rice Chex)

2 cups toasted oat cereal rings (such as Cheerios)

2 cups cheese-flavored crackers (such as Cheez-It)

2 cups pretzels

2 cups mixed nuts

1 cup butter

2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat an oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Combine the wheat cereal, corn cereal, rice cereal, oat cereal, cheese-flavored crackers, pretzels, and mixed nuts in a large bowl; set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce until evenly blended. Pour over the cereal mixture, and gently stir until the cereal is evenly coated with the seasoned butter. Spread the cereal mixture onto baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

Taco Seasoned

Chex Mix

6 cups Corn Chex cereal

2 cups bite-size cheese crackers

2 cups bite-size pretzel twists

1 cup salted peanuts

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

1 package (1.25 oz) Old El Paso taco seasoning mix

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, crackers, pretzels and peanuts. In small bowl, stir together oil, water and taco seasoning mix. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on high about 5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until mixture begins to brown. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

Oven directions: Heat oven to 250F. In ungreased large roasting pan, mix cereals, crackers, pretzels and peanuts. In small bowl, stir together oil, water and taco seasoning mix. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Bake uncovered 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information: 1/2 Cup: Calories 150 (Calories from Fat 70); Total Fat 8g (Saturated Fat 1 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 400mg; Total Carbohydrate 16g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 1g); Protein 3g % Daily Value*: Vitamin A 4%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 4%; Iron 20% Exchanges: 1 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1 MyPyramid Servings: 1 oz-equivalents Meat & Beans *% Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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