The Monroe on a Budget column runs Tuesdays in The Monroe Evening News. Here is this week’s installment.

Easter is a wonderful holiday season for families on a budget, as many popular traditions are frugal in their own right, or can be made so.

Discussion points:

Easter eggs: Eggs are cost-effective food and can be purchased either with food stamps or the Women Infants Children program.

The expense to watch for is cost of commercial Easter egg decorating kits. The far cheaper method involves food coloring and vinegar. Tell the kids you’re “going retro” with the egg techniques, and they may forget about the fact you’re trying to save money.

Easter candy: Find out the one specific treat each family member really wants to see in the baskets. Get those candies, and then complete your assortment with less expensive treats.

Remember that food stamp benefits can be used to buy candy; but the basket and any non-edible gifts must be paid for through other funds.

Easter baskets: I splurged on plush baskets one year, and they’ve lasted longer than cheap plastic baskets would have.

If you need baskets for giveaways, look for colored paper lunch bags, plastic cups or paper ice cream bowls. Otherwise, check the dollar and discount store racks as small baskets or substitutes can be found for $2 or less.

Easter grass: Surprise! “Easter grass” stuffing might cost more than the basket itself.

Less expensive alternatives you could repurpose from home include cotton batting, crumpled tissue paper, or shredded colored scrap paper.

Toys and trinkets: Easter has become a toy-giving holiday. To be fair, many parents and grandparents do want to balance out candy with non-edible gifts.

The problem is: toys and trinkets will explode your Easter budget faster than candy and eggs will. The budget-friendly approach is look for one gift that each recipient would really like, rather than an assortment of easily forgotten items.

Basket toppers: Several churches in Monroe County host Easter basket blessings on the Saturday before Easter. If you attend such an event, you’ll notice many baskets are covered with imported linen pieces.

While I want to get an heirloom basket topper someday, the one I’ve used for years is one I embroidered myself with a pattern I picked up for $2 at a garage sale.

Easter brunch or dinner: Brunch foods are appropriate to an Easter holiday meal, and the bonus is this menu is budget-friendly.

If you prefer to serve beef, turkey, ham or lamb, there’s no need to buy enough for leftovers. Look for the smallest cut of meat that will serve your family or guests.

Readers may contact Paula Wethington at or (734) 240-5745.

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