BOSTON (CBS) – Holiday foods are expensive and often there are special foods we only have this time of year. Tonight at sundown starts Hanukkah. Most of the traditional foods served are fried (potato pancakes and donuts) and served with dairy. Something affordable.

It’s the fancy roasts and hams served on Christmas and New Year’s that are budget busters.

I heard from a listener who asked for help with her food budget. We traded a few e-mails and the end result was that she skipped sending picture Christmas cards to her local friends and neighbors so her family could have their traditional foods.

The grocery store will cater a roast beef dinner for 10 for $150. I think you can do it for about $50 or less.

So what can you do to keep your holiday traditions and not wreck the budget? We always have roast beast for dinner for my son loved the idea we were eating what the Whos down in Who-ville ate for their Christmas dinner. My husband was happy with that for it meant we would be having beef instead of ham.

Many of the grocery stores are having beef on sale this week and instead of getting a tenderloin roast at $15 a pound or more opt for an eye round roast for $4 a pound. Most of the Whos in your house won’t know the difference. Make lots of gravy.

Now if ham is the tradition, here again you can find them on sale. I have seen the fancy hams priced at $8 to $12 a pound. The ham on sale at the grocery store is in range of $3 to $4 a pound and if you get the boneless there will be very little waste. Of course, you won’t have the bone for your pea soup.

Make your own mashed potatoes. If you buy the refrigerator or boxed mashed potatoes it’s about 90 cents a serving. If you make them yourself it’s about 25 cents a serving made with butter and milk. And you can make them the day before and just reheat in the microwave.

Vegetables, fresh is best, if not fresh, frozen comes in second. Asparagus and broccoli are on sale for this week.

Desserts; pies are really easy with the pre-made crusts. Apple pies from the bakery are anywhere from $10- $17. You can make one for under $5 and it can be a deep-dish pie with lots of apples.

Cookies are a snap. You can buy the dough and make sugar cookies with the kids. The fun part is decorating them.

Get some inexpensive wine. Start with a good bottle and then open a lesser expensive bottle.

You can serve 10 people for under $50. You will need to spend your time if you don’t spend your money.


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