Wellness Wednesday: From Freezer Meals to Re-gifting, Tips on Saving this Season

By AAFCS Team posted 11-08-2017 12:00 AM

This edition of 
Wellness Wednesday was inspired by the upcoming AAFCS webinar, "Family Meals Made Easy: Implementing Freezer and Monthly Take-Home Meal Programs."  Just in time for FCS Day, this complimentary webinar presented by Janet Holden, CFCS, an FCS teacher in Kansas, will share tips for success in implementing classroom and community service programs to promote easy family meals. The webinar is on November 15th at 5 PM ET and registration is limited, so reserve your seat today!

With the "Fall Back" time-change behind us, it may now feel like the holiday season is approaching too fast. In addition to the webinar above, we've gathered some tips to "FCSfit" your routine and save your resources as you prepare for the season:

1) Grocery costs can ramp up this time of year and ruin even the most well-planned budget, particularly if you're called in to bring a last-minute dish to a gathering. One tip from University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension? Buy unprocessed food -- e.g., skip those pre-bagged salad mixes and wash and chop your own greens. For that matter, skip the out-of-season produce altogether, which tends to be pricier because of high transportation costs. On the west coast? Check out the "ugly" produce from Imperfect Produce. 

2) Cash it in! Gift cards are a mega-industry, but some estimates put the value on un-redeemed cards at a whopping billion dollars annually. Here, North Dakota State Extension Service recommends some ways to avoid wasted dollars, including cashing unused gift cards in on websites like giftcardgranny.com, which may give you up to 90 cents on the dollar. Gift cards are also one of the few circumstances where etiquette experts say it's ok to "regift," (providing of course the card is not close to expiry and it's for a company the user would appreciate.) *More on the regift, here. 

3) Happy Trails . . . If you're among the millions who travel via road or air over the holidays, and your schedule allows some flexibility, try to book your air travel using the "flexible date" option for the best fares. And, if you're traveling by road, be sure to fill your car up as far in advance as you can before the holiday price spike.

4) Entertaining? Disposable plates are convenient, but, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, "the volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about one-million extra tons." Instead, consider hosting a BYOP meal. Here's how: Consider asking each guest to "bring your own plate." This way, you'll have plenty of dishes, and, each guest can bring leftovers home on their own plate! Rather use your matching china?  Modify this to BYOT (bring your own Tupperware) so at least you don't lose your own when doling out the leftover stuffing and gravy. 

5) Consider a holiday tradition overhaul. Tired of forcing a thanks for another kitschy gift you know you won't use but feel guilty about donating? Consider trading in the obligatory gift exchange among friends for an outing, instead, to a play, meal, or other memorable event. To make it feel more festive, assign a specific color to wear for photo ops and/or ask everyone to bring a donation (travel-size toiletry or socks) for a local shelter. Research has shown that experiences can bring more satisfaction than material possessions. 

P.S. Have your own favorite tried and true tip? Comment below and share it with us!