50 ways to save money on thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, overeat, and spend time with family – but it isn’t cheap. In 2011, the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner jumped 13 percent from the year before; reaching nearly $50 for a feast that feeds 10, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. A 16-pound turkey can set you back more than $20 on its own – and then you have stuffing, side dishes, desserts, and beverages to add to the mix.
Luckily, there are simple ways to keep Turkey Day from taking a bite out of your family fun. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson reveals tips for hosting Thanksgiving on the cheap.
Here are some more money-saving tips for Thanksgiving…
1. Make a list
It’s easy to overspend when shopping for a much anticipated holiday dinner. Make a list of what you’ll need and exactly how much, and be sure to stick to it when you’re in the store.
2. Don’t forget store promotions and coupons
Keep an eye out for special coupons and promotions around Thanksgiving. Some stores offer a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money. ShopRite, for example, is offering a free turkey or ham to customers who spend more than $300 between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22.
3. Know price matching policies
Find out if there are any stores nearby that will match advertised prices from competitors. Do the bulk of your shopping there – just don’t forget to bring your coupons.
4. Choose one meat…
For many, turkey is obligatory on Thanksgiving. What isn’t essential, however, is ham, lamb, and prime rib. Save money by simply choosing turkey or another type of meat for your family’s feast.
5. …and buy the right amount of it
Buy the right amount of turkey by counting 1 pound per person. If you want some leftovers, calculate more than 1 pound per person. Also remember that if you load up on side dishes, you can probably get away with less turkey.
6. Consider a frozen turkey
Buy a frozen turkey, and you could save 30 to 40 percent more than you would if you bought a fresh one. Just be sure to follow through with the necessary preparation. You’ll need three to five days to let it thaw.
7. Balance your side dishes and desserts
Whipping up a bowl of mashed potatoes is cheaper than cooking a seven-layer sweet potato casserole. Serve the essentials (green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), and go light on the more expensive dishes that require several ingredients.
Of course, dessert is just as important as the dinner itself. Luckily, pumpkin pie and cookies are crowd pleasers, and they’re inexpensive to bake.
8. Be smart about beverages
Visit a wholesale liquor store, and take advantage of sales. Don’t overlook boxed wine either – on average, one box of wine is equivalent to four bottles. Boxed wine often costs $20 or less, which is the equivalent price of $5 per bottle. Serve it in a decanter, and no one will ever know the difference.
For the non-alcoholic drinkers and little ones, serve coffee, tea, or Kool-Aid, which are all cheaper than serving soda.
9. Have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) party
Asking friends and family to bring a dish is a great way to mix things up. Plus, it relieves some of the meal’s financial burden on the host.
One way to go about this is asking guests to bring a type of dish, rather than a specific one. For example, you can suggest that some guests bring an appetizer, while others contribute a side dish or a dessert. Of course, there’s no shame in asking Aunt Sally to bring her legendary apple strudel either.
10. Use DIY decorations
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll inevitably want to decorate. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to splurge on decor. Instead, make use of everyday items in your home or shop at the dollar store.
Consider using drinking glasses as candle holders (turn the glasses upside down), or dress up a pitcher with a simple cloth napkin. Also, go outside. There are plenty of things to do with all the red and orange leaves and acorns in your backyard.
Metallic pumpkins are another inexpensive decoration. Buy a few pumpkins at your local pumpkin patch, and spray them with metallic paint.
5 ways to save money on Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Make sure you have the right shopping approach with these five tips.
1. If you’re concerned about your budget, make sure to announce that the meal is a potluck.
2. Look for free and discounted turkey deals.
3. Make your own decorations.
4. Buy generic items.
5. Utilize your local dollar store.
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 recipeto 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.
We have always had potluck for Thanksgiving, but a very organized one! We start emailing each other about 3 weeks before, and the hostess (my sister in law) will say “what do you want to make this year?”. We all bring something to the table and in the end we have so much food that we all take care packages home! I can’t wait – this is my favorite holiday of the year. What’s more fun than stuffing your face and laughing with family?