If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you might be looking for some easy tips to save on your Thanksgiving meal. With rising food prices and potential supply issues, cooking for a large crowd will most likely cost more in 2021. Given the big day is just a few weeks away, there is no time like the present to start getting your plan in place so you can save.
Listed below are five easy tips to help you save on Thanksgiving, lower your stress with getting it all done, and most importantly help you enjoy the day along with your family and guests. This year might also be the first time since 2019 you are hosting extended family, giving us even more reasons to give thanks. Let the festivities begin!
Five Easy Tips to Save on Thanksgiving:
1. Make your List Now & Shop Early:
Don’t wait until a few days before Thanksgiving to do your shopping. Most of the stores are full of specials right now related to the most common Thanksgiving recipes (frozen turkeys, spices, baking supplies, pumpkin puree, squash, cranberries, beverages for the bar etc). To take advantage of these specials, and lighten your to do list as it gets closer to Thanksgiving, create your shopping list now.
Then, on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, when you are in the grocery store doing your regular shopping, you can take advantage of the specials in advance since you will have your needed ingredients in front of mind. You will not only save money on your Thanksgiving meal, but you will also save yourself time and stress that comes from buying all the food in one big overwhelming trip.
2. Buy the Turkey at Your Grocery Store (vs a specialty store):
The average price per pound for turkey is up this year, from under a dollar in 2019 to almost double that price in 2021. If you need to buy a 20 lb turkey for your crowd, that difference in price will be considerable. Start looking at the flyers from local stores and determine who has the best price.
Some of our best Thanksgiving turkeys have been from our local grocery store vs the years we ordered from an expensive specialty store. There have also been some extensive taste tests by consumer groups comparing the pricier brands to the in-store brands and guess what? The difference in taste was usually not significant, yet the price was. So take advantage of the specials at the major retailers this year- it’s an easy way to save. Besides, with all the wonderful sides at the table, the meal is about the whole experience, not just the turkey.
3. Keep it Simple:
Do you really need 6 to 8 sides? Some of us feel compelled to make a long list of side dishes every year – one year I did 9 and it was crazy and exhausting … don’t ever do that! It’s so easy to get carried away. We want to try new recipes to make the meal memorable and get drawn into the promise of the “world’s best stuffing” recipe from our favorite cooking show or magazine.
Focus instead on the recipes you know your family loves…the tried and true. Scale back on the number of different items on the table and you not only lower your food bill, but you also will have a more relaxing day where you can participate in the conversations instead of being glued to your stovetop.
4. Make your Own
Although we are big fans of saving time and reducing stress during the holidays, there are some items that just make no sense to buy ready-made in the store. Our top tips for saving on Thanksgiving by making it at home:
- Brining Solution: this is literally salt, water, some spices. Don’t be tempted to buy the nicely packaged brining solution in the stores, at an incredible mark up…you can make your own for pennies! If you just google homemade brines, you will have a huge list to choose from.
- Gravy: after you buy the turkey from the store, you essentially have everything you need for a great gravy, with just some flour or corn starch and water. Not only is it cheaper, but it tastes so much better. Can’t bear the thought of dealing with gravy during those frenzied moments before you sit down for the meal? You can also make it in advance with some stock bought right from the store. Or, you could do what I do and enlist the help of a family member to be your “Gravy Master” leaving you to focus on getting everything on the table.
- Desserts: making pies and other baked goods at home is not only a great tradition to do with the kids, but also is a big money saver. If you are really pressed for time or desserts are not your thing, delegate the desserts to your guests.
5. Buy Wine in Bulk
Many of us enjoy having a glass of wine or two on Thanksgiving. Before picking up a few bottles individually, ask your local wine shop if they discount if you buy a case or more. Many shops will give you a generous discount (20 to 25% off) if you buy in bulk. When you consider the holiday season is upon us, you most likely will be taking a bottle to parties or giving one as a hostess gift. It just makes it so much easier to have it on hand. It will cost more upfront, but over the course of the holiday season you will spend less.
You also will have the added bonus of saving time from running out last minute before a party or needing to fit in a stop on the way. While you are at it, its not a bad idea to stock up on wine gift bags too so you always have an easy gift ready to go!