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Six Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner


Per Forbes, food prices have risen 11.4% from August 2021 to August 2022, reflected on the most recent Consumer Price Index Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These food cost increases are particularly problematic for folks on fixed incomes. While Thanksgiving is a joyous family occasion, the meal itself can be a big expense. Here are six ways to cut costs on the dinner without missing out on flavor or fun.

  1. Shop ahead. This tactic gives you time to buy things ahead when they go on sale, especially items like a frozen bird, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and more. You can also compare prices from store to store and secure deals on non-food items such as foil cooking pans, napkins, and dinnerware.
  2. Take advantage of store offers. This includes shopping at supermarkets that offer free turkeys to customers who spend a threshold amount, using coupons, buying generic rather than specialty brands, and using in-season foods offered at a good price.
  3. Keep the menu basic. Avoid pricey, fancy ingredients. Stick to favorite main dishes that everyone enjoys, such as mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Appetizers should also be kept simple, such as cheese and crackers and cut up veggies with dip. Tip: Skip prepared trays that can be expensive. DIY is generally cost-effective. Only buy in bulk when you can save money and if you will use all the items you purchase. Or split bulk purchases with a friend.
  4. Choose less expensive alternatives. For example, if you are having an intimate Thanksgiving for one or two, don’t cook a whole turkey that may go to waste. Instead, prepare less expensive alternatives that won’t go to waste such as individual roasted chicken breasts, turkey legs, or a rotisserie chicken. Also consider serving your own homemade lemon water in lieu of fancy flavored bottled beverages.
  5. Know that just because you are hosting, you needn’t undertake all the food preparation alone. Ask guests to bring appetizers, desserts, sides, or beverages. Not only is this a great way to save money, but most guests enjoy participating in the meal by making a personal contribution.
  6. Let someone else host. If you are alone for Thanksgiving, or simply can’t handle the expense or work, consider taking friends or family up on invitations to join their feast instead. That way you can enjoy the company of others. Concentrate on bringing along your favorite dish rather than being responsible for the whole entire meal expense and cleanup. If you do not have the money to travel, consider attending church or community sponsored events so that you don’t miss out on a well-deserved warm meal in the company of kind people.

Hosting the Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful thing, but it is not without economic stress, particularly for those on fixed budgets. By applying clever strategies to save money, and being flexible regarding traditions, the holiday can be greatly enjoyed by all – even in a tough economy. Thanksgiving draws our minds and hearts toward thankfulness, and we must remember that there is always something to be thankful for.

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