Thanksgiving Dinner on the Cheap

Turkey time is almost here. Time to prepare for some serious cooking and serious food comas. While Thanksgiving is really about people coming together to give thanks and enjoy each other’s company, there are definitely some costs that you need to prepare for if you plan on having a traditional(ish) holiday. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Food Shopping Tips:

  • Look Out for Weekly Sales: one item you need may be on sale this week, but other items may be on sale the following week. Don’t feel like you have to take one big “Thanksgiving shopping trip.” Check a few items off of your Thanksgiving list each time you go to the store before the big day.
  • But Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute: create your menu early so that you can go shopping as early as possible. You’ll save money by hitting the supermarkets before the week of Thanksgiving and you won’t find yourself running to the convenience store for that forgotten can of cranberry sauce.
  • Larger Turkeys Are Cheaper: you’ll figure out what to do with the leftovers!
  • Buy Frozen: even Emeril will tell you that there is no quality difference between fresh and frozen turkey. The price of frozen turkey is absolutely cheaper (save 30-40%), however. Just make sure you give that bird plenty of time to thaw before Thanksgiving Day!
  • Get Your Turkey for Free: many supermarkets offer a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money during a promotional period. Check out circulars and grocery flyers from around your area.
  • Buy Seasonal: use fall produce to save some money on sides and such for dinner.

The Big Day

Cooking Tips:

  • Multitask: utilize your oven for as many items as possible at the same time to save on energy costs. Throw other sides in while the turkey is cooking. If you have a few pies that can be cooked at around the same temperature, throw them all in while the oven is hot.
  • Ditch the Appetizers (or at Least Minimize): Thanksgiving dinner is usually more food than anyone can finish. You don’t want people to fill up on the appetizers. So save some money and just prepare a few light hors d’oeuvres to start with if you do appetizers at all.
  • Start Cooking Early: do as much as you can the night before! This won’t save you money, per se, but will save you a lot of stress! Here are 8 great recipes that you can prepare the night before.
  • Pot Luck to the Rescue: if you’re hosting dinner, then have everyone bring their own dish. Just make sure you know what everyone is bringing beforehand so you don’t end up with 2 of the same dish. You’ll spend less money and less time cooking, allowing you to focus on that turkey!
  • Take Inventory of What You Have: you could even do this before you create your menu. Take stock of what you already have in your pantry and see how much of your meal can be created with its contents. Also, you may find canned veggies or a box of stuffing that could come to your aid.
  • So You Want to Cook the Whole Meal?: at least have guests bring dessert!

Recipes

Bonus Tip!

Tell Guests to Bring Their Own Doggy Bags: if you’re hosting dinner and want to give away some leftovers, you don’t want to have to provide guests with Tupperware that you may never see again. Save yourself the hassle of getting your stuff returned by asking your guests to bring their own containers ahead of time.

What are some your best tips for saving on Thanksgiving dinner this year? Tell us about your plans in the comments section below!

Sources:
Money Crashers
Cheap Healthy Good
eHow
All You

Photo credit: ilovebutter

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