I love to bake. I used to make a lot of cookies and other holiday treats, but now I’ve discovered the joys of truffle making. Still, if you love baking, you’ll love these tips for saving money on holiday baked goods.
Buy In Bulk
This time of year, you can get bulk prices on flour, sugar, and other necessary ingredients at the regular supermarket. You’ll find five-pound bags of flour for 63 cents and sugar is the same. If you have a membership to a warehouse store, you can save even more there. The key is to scan the weekly ads in your local paper – when you see the big Thanksgiving or Christmas sale, swoop in to stock up on all your baking supplies at the regular store. If you don’t find good prices, visit the warehouse store. They’re especially good for large containers of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon that cost a fortune at the supermarket.
As an added bonus, warehouse stores also have large flats of eggs for far, far less than the grocery store. If you’re going to need a few dozen, either look for a two-for-one deal at the grocery store, or visit the warehouse store the morning of your big baking day.
Make Your Own Icing
Most stores make the basics cheap because their hope is that you’ll spend lots of money on sprinkles and other toppings, but you can make royal icing much cheaper with powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla, and food coloring. Frosting is simple to make, too. Fresh frosting also tastes much better than canned frosting.
Baked goods like cookies and brownies freeze amazingly well. If the only convenient day to bake is a few weeks before the holiday, that’s fine. First, clear the freezer. Next, assemble sheets of cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil or extra baking sheets. You’ll also need parchment paper. Once your cookies have cooled, line a baking sheet with clean parchment or get out the wrapped cardboard. Lay your cookies close together on top. If you need to stack them, lay another parchment sheet on top of each layer. Don’t stack iced cookies that haven’t hardened yet.
Set the trays in the freezer for an hour, and then transfer them to gallon-size zip-top freezer bags. Now you’ll have them in neatly organized groups when it’s time to pack them in tins or basket for a party or gift.
Baked goods like pies and cakes are more challenging to freeze, so you should probably make them the day you need them, but you’ll still save money if you can buy the supplies in bulk well before you need them. If you need to store the supplies, put them in large plastic containers to keep them fresh and dry. They’ll be good for at least six months, or more.