A Cure for the Holiday Grocery Shopping Madness

November 18, 2014 | Food, Nutrition, Recipes, WIC

By Leslie McKittrick, Gallatin County WIC

Woo-Hoo the holidays are coming!

This should be a fun, exciting time of the year in Gallatin County, with family, friends, and lots of good food. That also means holiday grocery shopping.

Secretly, I hate grocery shopping madness and frenzy during the hectic holiday season. So, I’ve developed strategies to deal with holiday shopping and keep my sanity.

Shopping Tips

  • Develop a menu. Whether you’re making a dish for a potluck or preparing the whole meal, give yourself plenty of lead-time to decide on your menu.
  • Picture the plate. What would you like your meal to look like, and what ingredients will you need.
  • Remember the basic food groups. Almost half the plate should be fruits and vegetables, with lean protein, whole grains, and dairy products to balance out the meal offerings. See ChooseMyPlate.gov for dietary recommendations for all ages. Then, make a list with the food items you will need to purchase from the grocery store.
  • Shop the sales. As the holidays approach, most stores will advertise sales for the typical holiday foods and ingredients. Sale flyers are included in our local papers, some of which are free papers like Mini Nickel, Belgrade News, Lone Peak Lookout and West Yellowstone News. If you have Internet, check websites for your local stores’ sale ads or the Bozeman Daily Chronicle online ads. Many local stores now have a Facebook page with advertised sales. You may find discounted or free entree items like turkeys if you purchase a certain amount of other foods.
  • Buy in season: You may save money by shopping for fruits and vegetables that are currently in season, such as: Apples, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cranberries, green beans, kale, lettuce, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yams, and winter squash just to name a few.

Now What?

Now you are prepared to go shopping. Weigh the advantage of getting a few cents off certain food items and the cost of gas and time driving all over Gallatin County for bargains. To save money and time you might pick two stores that have the best deals on most of the foods you will need.

Try to have everything you will need at home a few days before the holiday if your fridge can hold it. Start thawing larger frozen foods. Prepare other dishes ahead of time to be stored and heated up on the day of the feast. Make a plan for heating and cooking foods the day of the event. Hopefully, there will only be a few things left to prepare on the big day, so you can have a more relaxing, enjoyable time.

This might not be the time to try untested recipes but you can always add a twist to tried and true recipes to increase nutrition. Think about adding vegetable or fruit purees or cooked vegetables to a favorite dish. It’s a great way to use leftovers, too. These recipes, adapted from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld might help get you started.


Mashed Potatoes (with a twist)

  • 1 pound baking potatoes peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup cauliflower puree (mashed)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
  • ½ cup lowfat buttermilk or regular milk
  1. Put potatoes and salt in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
  2. Mash potatoes. Add the cauliflower puree or you can cook the cauliflower with the potatoes for the last 10 minutes and mash them together. Add margarine and buttermilk and beat until smooth and creamy. Serve.

Chocolate Pudding (Kid Friendly, Parent Approved) 

  • ¼ cup trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
  • 1 cup avocado puree
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat. Stir in the avocado puree, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Cook; mashing well, to smooth out any lumps of avocado, until the mixture thickens in about 3 to 4 minutes. Take off the heat, gradually stir in the cornstarch. Serve warm.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!


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For information about Food Safety at Home, go here.