Our Favorite Budget-Friendly Holiday Dinner Dishes

By buying pricey seasonal or specialty items, holiday dinners quickly become unreasonably expensive, putting you over budget and at financial risk. This is no way to head into the New Year, especially if you have the goal of getting back on financial track in the coming months. Instead, let your holiday dinners be good practice for your spending habits next year.

To help develop a budget for your holiday food spending, be sure to try our holiday budget planner. Based on your income, it will help you determine how much to spend on a variety of costs during the holiday season. We’ve already covered some great affordable holiday snack ideas, but now let’s take a look at how you can make some delicious dinner dishes without breaking the bank.

Affordable side dishes

Broccoli with toasted hazelnuts

Broccoli with HazelnutsSource: “Con Poulos” on RealSimple.com

Toasted garlic and just half a cup of hazelnuts give a touch of holiday taste to this everyday dinner favorite. Although the recipe calls for fresh broccoli, frozen broccoli works just as well, reducing the cost of this simple side dish.

Find the recipe for broccoli with toasted garlic and hazelnuts on RealSimple.com.

Honey-glazed carrots with raisins

Honey-glazed CarrotsSource: AllRecipes.com

This honey-glazed carrots recipe with fill your home with all the smells of the holidays. Cinnamon, cranberries, pineapple and mint give this traditional side dish a festive holiday twist. Since inexpensive carrots make the bulk of the recipe, it’s an affordable side dish to serve with your holiday dinner.

Find the recipe for honey glazed carrots on Relish.com.

Green bean casserole

Green Bean CasseroleSource: ManlyKitchen.com

Hearty, hot and filling, green bean casserole is a holiday dinner table favorite. Canned or frozen beans work best for this casserole and cut down on the cost of this already inexpensive side dish.

Find the recipe for green bean casserole on French’s website.

Potatoes au gratin

Potatoes Au GratinSource: TasteofHome.com
Who doesn’t love creamy, cheese-covered potatoes? This recipe costs just cents per serving and pairs well with a variety of main dishes.

Find the recipe for potatoes au gratin on TasteofHome.com.

Lasagna rolls

Lasagna RollsSource: The-Girl-Who-Ate-Everything.com

Everyone loves lasagna. These five-ingredient lasagna rolls are a simple, easy and inexpensive Italian dish to serve at your holiday dinner as a side dish instead of the main fare. There’s no need to start from scratch with expensive out-of-season tomatoes. Canned marinara sauce works perfectly for this recipe.

Find the recipe for lasagna rolls on TasteofHome.com.

Sweet potato casserole

Sweet Potato CasseroleSource: “Puppy Momma” on Photobucket

No holiday dinner seems complete without a decadent, pecan-topped sweet potato casserole. Cooked sweet potatoes mixed with other pantry staples create this delicious recipe. Just one half cup of pecans gives this dish a taste of more expensive holiday fare without the cost.

Find the recipe for sweet potato casserole on AllRecipes.com.

Affordable Main Course Dishes

Kale- and sausage-stuffed turkey breast

Kale and Sausage-stuffed Turkey BreastSource: MarthaStewart.com

If you aren’t yet tired of turkey, try this kale- and sausage-stuffed turkey breast recipe. This main dish uses savory spices in a moist stuffing to create single-serve and easy-to-make portions so that you can wow your dinner guests without going over your holiday meal budget.

Find the recipe for kale- and sausage-stuffed turkey breast on MarthaStewart.com.

Old-fashioned holiday glazed ham

Honey HamSource: FoodNetwork.com

For a more traditional dinner dish, use this old-fashioned holiday glazed ham recipe. Because of the popularity of ham as a main dish during the holiday season, you won’t have any trouble finding great grocery store deals to pick up your holiday ham at a reasonable price. Paired with inexpensive side dishes like au gratin potatoes, ham can make a very budget-friendly holiday meal.

Find the recipe for holiday ham on FoodNetwork.com.

Pecan-crusted fish fillets

Pecan-crusted Fish FilletsSource: BettyCrocker.com

Flaky, crunchy and sweet, pecan-crusted fish fillets pair well with just about any holiday side dish you serve. Serve with a wedge of lemon for an unexpectedly bright flavor for your winter holiday meal.

Find the recipe for pecan-crusted fish fillets on BettyCrocker.com.

Apple- and walnut-stuffed pork tenderloin

Apple and Walnut Pork TenderloinSource: TheBlackPeppercorn.com

If you love pork for your holiday dinner but don’t want to spend the amount required for a traditional ham, apple- and walnut-stuffed pork tenderloin is a mouthwatering alternative. Simple, succulent and festive, this recipe will help you stay on budget without forgoing flavor.

Find the recipe for apple and walnut stuffed pork tenderloin on Taste of Home.

Prime rib and roasted sage potatoes

Prime Rib and PotatoesSource: MarthaStewart.com

Roasted prime rib has been a popular holiday dish since Victorian times. If bought straight from the butcher or on discount at the grocery store, prime rib can be an affordable main dinner dish. You can always opt to purchase a smaller roast and serve it alongside affordable and filling side dishes.

Find the recipe for prime rib and roasted sage potatoes on MarthaStewart.com.

Cranberry-glazed pork tenderloin

Cranberry-glazed PorkSource: FoodNetwork.com

Cranberry-glazed pork tenderloin is another great pork alternative for your holiday dinner. Sliced thin and covered with cranberries, this colorful main dish pairs well with either sweet potato or green bean casserole.

Find the recipe for cranberry-glazed pork tenderloin on FoodNetwork.com.

Your holiday dinner budget

When deciding which dishes to serve, keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way. You can get the same pecan flavor in half a cup that you can get in a pound, but you’ll be paying significantly less. And remember, holiday dinners are a time to come together with friends and family and celebrate the season with good food and friendly conversation, not a time to go over budget on a meal you can’t afford.

Choose recipes that bring out the scents and flavors of the holidays, but always stay mindful of your budget. You don’t want to be paying off credit in 2016 for a meal eaten in 2015. That wouldn’t be a “happy” New Year at all.

Kristi Muse is a family finance writer who loves talking about strategies to save money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life. She shares her experiences about debt, parenthood, and life as a law-enforcement family on her blog Moderate Muse. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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