Noche Buena Shopping Tips to Stretch Your Holiday Budget
Published: November 27, 2018 | Updated: December 17, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance
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.
Table of Contents
- 1. Plan Your Noche Buena Budget, Menu, and Shopping List
- 2. Compare Prices in Different Places
- 3. Avoid Last-Minute Noche Buena Shopping
- 4. Choose Less Popular Brands
- 5. Buy Homemade Noche Buena Products
- 6. Buy Smaller Portions of a Whole Product
- 7. Go for Cheap Alternatives to Traditional Noche Buena Recipes
- Final Thoughts
1. Plan Your Noche Buena Budget, Menu, and Shopping List
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
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
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
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
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
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 Dishes||Cheap Alternatives|
|Spaghetti||Pancit bihon or canton|
|Quezo de bola||Cheese sticks|
|Roast beef||Roast pork|
|Beef caldereta||Chicken caldereta|
|Fried drumsticks||Chicken lollipops|
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!
Venus is the Head of Content at Moneymax, with 15+ years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications, PR, and journalism. She invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Outside of work, she’s crazy about cats and Korean dramas. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.