Want to save money on Thanksgiving dinner? The big feast of 2012 is so close you can practically smell the turkey and pumpkin pie. Whether you’ve planned your celebration or you’re just now gathering recipes, there’s still time to find bargains and values. Follow these 5 quick tips for a budget-friendly Thanksgiving:
1. Plan a Menu
Don’t wait until you’re in the grocery store to decide what you’re serving. Pick your main courses, side dishes and desserts ahead of time. Look up the recipes and make a list of all the ingredients you need. This will help prevent impulsive buying. Be sure to check your pantry before you go shopping, too. You’ll save money if you avoid doubling up on ingredients you already have.
2. Make it a Potluck
If you’re inviting a lot of guests, consider a potluck Thanksgiving. Ask your friends and family to volunteer to prepare dishes or assign them other items to bring, like a bottle of wine or sparkling apple cider for the kids. This will save you lots of money, and cooking time! Your Thanksgiving will also feel more complete because everyone’s pitched in. Just make sure your guests remember to take home their pots and pans!
3. Cook from Scratch
You’ll stretch your Thanksgiving dollars much further if you cook everything from scratch. Especially desserts! It’s tempting to buy a premade pie or cake, but it’s much cheaper to buy raw ingredients and bake your own. Chances are, you’ve already got staple ingredients like flour and sugar, so you’ll just need a few fresh items depending on the recipe. You’ll also save a lot if you cook your main course at home instead of buying a roasted turkey or ham from a store.
4. The Dollar Store is Your Friend
Start your shopping trip at your local dollar store or discount grocery chain. Many dollar stores stock fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs, dairy and baking supplies. Why pay more for the same product in a more expensive store? As a bonus, you’ll find festive seasonal decorations to spruce up your home!
5. Buy Bulk Ingredients
Buying in bulk is a great option if you’re cooking for a large group, but it can be a terrific value for small families as well. Look at your recipes. Many traditional Thanksgiving dishes like mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, desserts and rolls all call for butter or margarine. Get it from a bulk store like Costco or Smart & Final. Bulk quantities are also ideal for items with a long shelf life, such as flour, sugar, or frozen and canned goods. Maybe you’ll only use a little for Thanksgiving but you can save the rest for Christmas, New Year’s Eve or the next time you celebrate with your loved ones.
So what are your Thanksgiving savings tips? What are your low-cost recipes and Thanksgiving day traditions? Share them with us in the comments!