The turkey, your waistband, the mound of mashed potatoes. These are the things that should be big at Thanksgiving, not the grocery receipt. The holidays can be stressful enough, without worrying how to serve dinner on a budget.
Whether you are hosting or heading to your parent’s house, here’s how to save money on Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Make your own spices: Spices can be really expensive, and will you really use “Pumpkin Pie Spice” throughout the year? Doubt it. Google a make-it-yourself poultry seasoning recipe to save a few bucks using ingredients you likely already have in the pantry.
2. Skip appetizers: You and your guests are an hour or two away from completely stuffing your faces – everyone will be just fine hanging out before dinner without snacks. Just provide some basic drinks and you can easily save $20-50.
3. Cook from scratch: Obviously bottled gravy, powdered potatoes and pre-made pies come with more convenience, but they also come with a higher price tag. Plan ahead to spend a bit more time in the kitchen making stuffing and dinner rolls, and you could cut your expenses in half.
4. Throw a potluck: No one says you have to do all the spending or work. Send out email invitations to your guests, asking them to bring a bottle of wine, dish or dessert to pass and share in the cost and the cooking.
5. Limit choices: Though variety is the spice of life, too many choices can be overwhelming for your pocketbook and palette. If you always serve turkey, don’t feel the need also to provide ham or beef. Choose mashed OR sweet potatoes, and limit pies to two different kinds.
6. Get a free turkey: Many grocery stores offer free turkey promotions if you spend a certain amount of money or buy specific products. Check weekly ads or ask your favorite store manager for details.
7. Use a meal calculator: You are expecting ten guests, so should you multiply your recipes by 5? 8? 10? One quick way to overspend is by making too much food. Use this Thanksgiving Calculator to figure how much of each ingredient you really need. Trust me, you will STILL have leftovers!
8. Volunteer: Instead of hosting family and friends for dinner, why not serve others alongside them? Local shelters, Meals on Wheels, Ronald McDonald houses and churches always need volunteers during the holidays. Not only would you be saving money on decorations, food, travel and cleaning, you would be giving back and making memories with the ones you love.