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Holiday meals can be stressful between the grocery shopping, budgeting, planning, baking and cooking — and then don’t forget about the cleanup. You can get tired just thinking about the ongoing to-do list. So how can we juggle eating healthy, keeping cost low and reducing meal stress around the holidays?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Ask for help. Maybe ask each guest to bring a dish or two to share instead of trying to cook the whole meal yourself. This can also help cut down on what you spend on the meal.
  2. Meals don’t have to be traditional. We typically think of ham or turkey as the star of the holiday meal, but what about a casserole or a hearty stew? Also, don’t forget about meatless meal options. Try showcasing the vegetable side dishes. They can be surprisingly filling and can help reduce meal costs!
  3. Frozen or canned anyone? Canned and frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables and possibly cheaper. Try to buy those without added salt or sauces. You can also rinse and drain your canned vegetables to reduce added sodium.
  4. Start meal planning early. See if there are any staple pantry items you can purchase ahead of time when they are on sale. Also some dishes such as pies, casseroles and breads freeze well and could be made in advance to further help reduce stress on the big day.
  5. Set your limits. Does the holiday meal really need five different side dishes and multiple desserts? What about a couple of really good sides and one dessert? More is not always better.

For more tips and recipes on trying to eat healthy and stay on budget, check out: