noche buena tips l Moneymax

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, yes, you can prepare a quality holiday feast for your loved ones. You just have to be wais and madiskarte.

Affordable Noche Buena Tips and Ideas

If you’re looking for ideas to stretch your holiday shopping budget, here are some Noche Buena tips to help you make the most of your money.

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

Still not sure what to prepare for the holidays? Before your trip to the supermarket, plan these three things in the following order: your budget, menu, and shopping list for Noche Buena.

Determine Your Budget

noche buena tips - Plan Your Noche Buena Budget, Menu, and Shopping List

It can get very exciting to shop during the holidays. But even when you’ve already received your annual bonuses, this shouldn’t give you the ticket to overspend.

So to avoid overspending, make sure that you know exactly how much you’re willing to shell out for your Noche Buena shopping. Set an amount that works for you, bearing in mind the number of people you’ll break bread with on Christmas Eve.

Also, determine who will share the expenses with you in your household. Be clear about how much you’ll contribute, and how much each person is willing to allocate.

Plan Your Menu

Come up with a Noche Buena menu that matches your budget. Consider how many people will be celebrating Noche Buena with you. 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 Noche Buena menu consisting of an appetizer, main dish, and dessert. 

Don’t forget to ask your relatives if they have any Noche Buena suggestions in mind. Also, consider if anyone in your family is allergic to certain types of food like chicken or seafood. You want to make sure that what you’re going to serve on the table is everyone’s Noche Buena favorite.

Prepare Your Noche Buena Food 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 relatives.

Aside from the items you need to buy, take note also of their prices. Use the Department of Trade and Industry’s e-Presyo[1] system to check the suggested retail prices of Noche Buena products in the Philippines. This gives you a better idea of which products are too expensive to purchase, or if there are other cheaper alternatives.

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 tips - 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. 

But of course, don’t look at the prices of goods in supermarkets alone. Factor in the cost of traveling to different grocery stores and see if you’ll be able to save more. Not only that, consider the time you have to spend going to different places. At the end of the day, you might have saved more on goods but spent more on transportation, hopping from one grocery to another.

Also, don’t limit your choices to supermarkets. Public wet markets and flea markets typically offer more affordable products than air-conditioned grocery shops. This specifically applies to poultry, fish or meat. Buying them in public wet markets will considerably save you more money, compared with the branded meats available in supermarkets. You can even haggle the price per kilo with your suki.

Important Noche Buena tip: When shopping for your Noche Buena ingredients, check the products displayed at the upper and lower shelves. These items are likely to be cheaper than those at eye level.

3. Avoid Last-Minute Noche Buena Shopping

noche buena tips - Avoid Last-Minute Noche Buena Shopping

Have you started buying food for Christmas Eve yet? Prices of Noche Buena packages and single 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 cocktails, and other food items you can stock up until Christmas. You don’t necessarily have to buy everything at once. Doing so would hurt your wallet, so start buying what’s on your Noche Buena food list a few pieces at a time.

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.

Lesser-known brands cost lower than high-end and imported ones. The differences in quality and taste may be minimal anyway. So if you want to save more this holiday season, then you should opt for local brands.

5. Buy Homemade Noche Buena Products

noche buena tips - Buy Homemade Noche Buena Products

During the pandemic, many people found a new hobby to get more income. Most of them ventured into the food and beverage business, selling homemade meals like sushi platters, cured meat, or even famous Filipino kakanins, like puto and sapin-sapin

Now that the holidays are around the corner, why not buy some of your Noche Buena meals from online sellers, or those that are in wet markets? They’re usually cheaper than goods sold in supermarkets. The good news is you can also haggle with vendors when you buy in bulk.

You not only save more money and preparation time; you also get to support small business owners in your locality.

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. Remember that even when you’re trying to find budget-friendly Noche Buena products, you must never compromise your family’s safety.

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. Or, a better alternative would be lechon kawali, which you can cook according to your liking.

Read more: Handy List of Holiday Mall Hours for Hassle-Free Shopping

7. Go for Affordable Alternatives to Traditional Noche Buena Recipes

noche buena tips - cheap alternatives

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 DishesMore Affordable Alternatives
SpaghettiPancit Bihon
LechonLechon Kawali
Queso de BolaCheese Sticks
Roast BeefRoast Pork
Beef CalderetaChicken Caldereta
Fried DrumsticksChicken Lollipops

Note that these are just a few Noche Buena food ideas that you can serve as a substitute. The key is to get creative when preparing your meals.

More Noche Buena Tips When Shopping

Knowing these helpful Noche Buena tips will allow you to prepare for Christmas Eve―from your budget to your menu. And since money’s usually abundant at this time of the year, it’s inevitable to overspend. Here are more Noche Buena tips to help you save more money when shopping:

1. Bring Your Own Reusable Bags 

noche buena tips - Bring Your Own Reusable Bags

An eco-bag costs around PHP 10 to PHP 50, depending on where you’re shopping. If you don’t bring your own reusable bags, you might end up buying eco-bags at the supermarket. That’s if the store doesn’t have plastic bag options.

Cities like Quezon City, Parañaque, Makati, Pasig, and Muntinlupa have banned the use of plastic.[2] So chances are you’ll need to bring your own bags when shopping for Noche Buena.

2. Hail a Jeepney or Tricycle 

When you have a lot of money in your pocket, you’ll be tempted to travel everywhere via  cab or by booking a ride. If you want to save more money, set aside your personal conveniences even for a while.

3. Buy Pre-Packed Noche Buena Products 

It’s easy to shop during the holidays with supermarkets offering packaged Noche Buena goods. You might even get a free basket or container, too!

4. Don’t Bring Your Credit Cards With You 

It’s easy to drift from your budget knowing that you have your credit card inside your wallet. If you’re practicing self-control when it comes to spending, stick to your cash and to your Noche Buena list.

5. Be Realistic About Your Budget 

Budgets are good because they keep you from overspending. But buying cheap doesn’t always mean it will benefit you. For example, some chicken parts are sold at 50% off because they’re unsold products from the previous day. Set a good budget that’s manageable without overlooking the freshness of the ingredients.

6. Encourage Your Relatives to Do a Potluck 

If you have a big family, it can get expensive to handle Noche Buena shopping all by yourself. Consider doing a potluck where everyone brings their preferred food for sharing. This not only saves you money–it saves you time and energy, too.

Final Thoughts

Celebrate the season with your loved ones over good food without overspending. Keep these Noche Buena tips in mind and save money when shopping for Christmas. Enjoy!

Moneymax Newsletter