- Use ingredients that work in several functions. For example, I buy the giant bag of Nestle Chocolate Chips at Costco, and use them in brownies, peppermint bark, fudge and dipping and swirling. I ALWAYS use chocolate.
- Stock up BEFORE the beginning of the season. I shop sales and stock up my recipe essentials ahead of time to ensure I get the biggest bang for my buck. (NOTE: If purchasing nuts ahead of time, keep them in the freezer. They can go rancid, and no one wants a rancid walnut in their fudge.
- PLAN! If you have a good idea of how much you'll be baking and what you'll be baking, you are less likely to waste unused ingredients, or find that an expensive ingredient is needed in bulk, at the last minute.
- Storage ideas. Obviously, you can reuse old tins and plastic containers, but get creative. Look for interesting glassware, cookie jars, even muffin and bread tins could be fun gift giving containers. People truly appreciate the thought.
- Budget for the last minute items. You can't buy cream and eggs terribly long in advance, and depending on your recipes you might go through A LOT of such items. Plan for it.
- Do your homework. If the ingredients of an item cost far more than it would to simply buy the item, weigh such things out. Example: a cheesecake could easily cost $15 to make, depending on the recipe and ingredients. You could buy one for half that.
- Follow recipes. Don't try to reinvent the wheel and modify recipes to death. You'll waste a lot of time and money that way. Burnt gingerbread men that failed to rise will just frustrate you...believe me.
- If you are invited to a cookie exchange, GO! A fun excuse to meet new friends and get more of a variety for your cookie plates without having to do that additional work is GENIUS!
I do hope this was helpful! Good luck, and HAPPY BAKING!