Noche Buena Shopping Tips to Stretch Your Holiday Budget

Published: November 27, 2018 | Updated: December 17, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines |

In this time of seemingly unstoppable price increases in the Philippines, can your family still enjoy a special Noche Buena meal this year? Even on a tight budget, you can prepare a quality holiday feast for your loved ones. You just have to be wais and madiskarte.

Looking for ideas to stretch your limited Noche Buena shopping budget? Let these tips help you.

1. Plan Your Noche Buena Budget, Menu, and Shopping List

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines
Before your trip to the supermarket, plan these three things in the following order: your budget, menu, and shopping list for Noche Buena.

Define Your Budget

Start off with a clearly defined Noche Buena shopping budget. If you’re sharing expenses with relatives, be clear about how much you’ll contribute.

Create a Menu

Come up with a Noche Buena menu that matches your budget. Consider how many people you’re going to feed. For example, you can’t go all out if you have a large family or many guests with a budget of less than PHP 1,000. For that, consider a simple menu consisting of an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.

Prepare Your Noche Buena Shopping List

Based on your budget and menu, write down a list of items you need to buy. Tick off free items you’re expecting to receive, like a Noche Buena package from your employer or canned goods from your balikbayan relative.

Aside from the items to buy, take note also of their prices. Use the Department of Trade and Industry’s e-Presyo system to check the suggested retail prices of Noche Buena products in the Philippines.

Stick to your budget, menu, and shopping list when buying ingredients for your Noche Buena feast. This helps you avoid spending more than what you actually need, wasting food, and getting broke after Christmas.

2. Compare Prices in Different Places

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines
Prices of certain Noche Buena items differ from one supermarket to another. Even two supermarkets owned by one company in different locations may have price differences.

Canvas supermarkets in your area to find out which one provides the best prices. Or you can do your Noche Buena shopping separately—like buying the cheapest ham at Store A, the cheapest spaghetti ingredients at Store B, and so on.

When shopping, check the products displayed at the upper and lower shelves. These items are likely to be cheaper than those at the eye level.

Don’t limit your choices to supermarkets. Public wet markets and flea markets typically offer more affordable products than air-conditioned grocery shops.

3. Avoid Last-Minute Noche Buena Shopping

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines
Have you started buying food for Christmas Eve yet? Prices of Noche Buena products go higher as Christmas approaches, so do your Noche Buena shopping as soon as you receive your 13th month pay or bonus. If you don’t have enough money yet, start buying a few items early, such as noodles, pasta, sauces, fruit cocktail, and other food items you can stock up until Christmas.

4. Choose Less Popular Brands

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines
Do you have a favorite brand of ham, spaghetti, fruit cocktail, and other Noche Buena staples? You’ll have to switch brands—at least for this year—if you need to cut down on your expenses this holiday season.

Lesser-known and local brands cost lower than high-end and imported ones. The differences in quality may be minimal anyway.

Store brands are also value-for-money options, especially that SM and Robinsons have committed to keeping prices of their private label brands unchanged for at least three months.

5. Buy Homemade Noche Buena Products

Homemade products sold in wet markets and through online sellers are priced much less than supermarket products. You can also haggle with vendors when you buy in bulk.

Aside from saving money, you’re also helping small business owners in the Philippines when you purchase homemade goods.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, reminds the public to carefully inspect homemade and unbranded food products before buying them.

According to the FDA, consumers must look for the following information in each product label:

  • Brand name and product name
  • Ingredients list
  • Nutrition facts
  • Allergen information
  • Manufacturer/importer/distributor name
  • Expiration date
  • Storage conditions

Check also the quality of food packaging. For instance, canned goods shouldn’t be rusty and deformed. Ham, hotdogs, and other meat products must be sold frozen.

6. Buy Smaller Portions of a Whole Product

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines
When grocery shopping for your family’s daily needs, buying in bulk is a good money-saving technique. However, it’s different when you’re shopping for seasonal Noche Buena items. You use them for one time, and they may not last long enough for later use.

Because most ingredients for the Noche Buena fare tend to spoil after some time, it’s practical to purchase items by the gram, slice, piece, or anything tingi. For example, you’ll save more money buying ham slices (especially if you have a small family) rather than a kilo of ham.

Want to serve lechon this Christmas? A whole lechon is insanely expensive. But you can order lechon in smaller portions like half a kilo. No need to spend thousands of pesos just to have your favorite Noche Buena dishes.

Read more: Ultimate Guide to Holiday Mall Hours

7. Go for Cheap Alternatives to Traditional Noche Buena Recipes

Noche Buena Shopping Tips Philippines

Photo by pulaw via Flickr, Creative Commons

Keep your ingredients simple. Just because tradition calls for quezo de bola, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it every year. Go for lower-priced cheese varieties that taste just as good and can be used for other dishes even after the holidays.

Meat and seafood are particularly expensive nowadays. Consider having chicken as your main dish instead of beef or pork.

Here are other affordable substitutes to Noche Buena favorites to try this Christmas:

Traditional Noche Buena DishesCheap Alternatives
SpaghettiPancit bihon or canton 
LechonLechon kawali 
Quezo de bola Cheese sticks
Roast beefRoast pork
Beef calderetaChicken caldereta
Fried drumsticksChicken lollipops

Final Thoughts

Celebrate the season with your loved ones over good food without overspending. Keep these tipid tips in mind as you go Noche Buena shopping. Enjoy!

Got other ideas to save money when shopping for Christmas food? Share them here!