More Thanksgiving Tips: Save Money, Too

If you’re hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars. You could also spend well under that if you plan ahead and shop frugally.

That turkey can bankrupt you. If you’re going to make a turkey, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to, shopping early can save you lots of money. You also can save buying at a meat market rather than a regular grocery store. Because people have to make a special trip to the meat market or butcher shop, they often will have great sales to draw customers in. You can get a better quality turkey for half the cost by shopping early in November.

Stay flexible. Don’t get too attached to a particular menu with very specific dishes. You could pay a lot more than you need to. If you keep an eye on sale items, you can change your menu, especially with side dishes, and save lots of money.

Shop at discount stores. If you can, you can spend half the money you would at a big chain grocer by seeking out a discount or outlet food store. Often the quality is just as good, but with few name-brand products and less fancy displays, they can offer the same food for a lot less. It might be worth the extra trip.

Stay away from ready-made convenience foods. It’s a lot cheaper to buy lettuce and other components and make your own salad. You can make it ahead of time. Make your own dressing. A simple vinaigrette is easy and quick to make with just a few ingredients you probably have already in your pantry. A bag of potatoes is usually pretty cheap, so you can make your own mashed potatoes for a lot less than those little trays of pre-made spuds from the grocery store. And making your own gravy is much healthier and cheaper than buying it by the can or pouch.

Serve sparkling juice instead of alcohol. You can get the same enhancement to the meal that you get from wine without dulling the senses or making people too tired after the meal. And, sparkling juice can cost way less than a good wine or bottle of distilled spirits.

Have plenty of sides. Good vegetable dishes are not only better for you and your guests, but can stretch your dinner dollars a bit further. Frozen vegetables make it easy and affordable.

With a little shopping around and planning, you can have a true feast for less money than you can imagine. And, your meal can be healthier and of better quality with just a little effort.