More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving sets the bar for a huge and amazing holiday meal. The cost of preparing such an iconic feast, however, can easily get out of hand without a good plan. Here are some tips to help you put out a memorable Thanksgiving spread that won’t unstuff your wallet.
Make a Menu
Take the time to write out a detailed menu, create a budget and stick to both. Cut those menu items that might break your budget and consider cheaper alternatives to more expensive dishes before making a final, master list. Once you have all your dishes figured out, make a grocery list well in advance. There’s no way you can run to the store last minute and get everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner, so plan to go to the store to get what you need in the weeks before. Check your fridge, pantry and freezer to see what ingredients you already have so you don’t accidentally buy duplicates on your shopping trips.
Look for Discounts & Coupons
Take your Thanksgiving list with you when you go on regular shopping trips in November and pick up items you need when they are on sale. Save more by purchasing generic ingredients like sugar, spices, flour or canned pumpkin. Don’t forget to look in store flyers, newspapers and online for coupons. You may also be able to stack manufacturer coupons, store coupons and sales, adding up to even bigger savings. Check supermarket apps for additional savings with digital coupons as well. Thanksgiving is also a great time to buy food in bulk at club stores like Costco or Sam’s Club if you have a membership.
Get your family and friends involved so you don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask your guests to bring side dishes, appetizers or dessert. The more people you enlist, the more you can spread out the holiday meal costs and cut back on the time you spend in the kitchen or in the grocery store. Accepting this assistance is a really good way to cover all the traditional dishes and it may even help create a few new ones. After a few years, your guests may develop specialty dishes like Grandpa Doug’s Secret Mac & Cheese Casserole, that people look forward to year after year.
Trim the Turkey… Price
Turkey can be an expensive main dish, especially if you need a large bird to feed a lot of guests. Fortunately, many grocery stores will be competing for sales during the holidays and this can yield lower bird prices. Some stores may even offer a free turkey with purchase of a certain dollar amount spent on groceries, or offer a coupon for turkey when you spend a certain amount. Make sure you spend some time browsing various stores in your area for deals. You can also save quite a bit of money if you buy a frozen bird instead of a fresh one.
You may also consider serving a different main dish. Turkey is such a classic food on Thanksgiving that it may be hard to sell your family and friends on a substitute. But if they are open to it, you can try chicken or ham, which may be cheaper alternatives.