If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you might be looking for some easy ways to save on your Thanksgiving meal. With rising food prices, cooking for a large crowd will most likely cost more this year. Given the big day is less than a week 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 by getting it all done, and, most importantly, help you enjoy the day with your family and guests.
Five Easy Tips to Save on Thanksgiving:
1. Make a Complete List Before Going to the Store:
Going into a grocery store without a list will almost always result in spending more than you need to. When shopping for a major holiday, the need to have an organized list is even more critical, especially if you are trying to keep costs under control. Make a point to sit down and think through all the elements of the meal (the apps, main meal, desserts, drinks, the supplies you might need, pantry items) and get it all onto a single list.
Once you have your list, determine what items on the list you can ask your guests to bring, whether that is cooking a few of the sides or contributing other things such as non-alcoholic drinks, desserts, rolls, or even paper goods. Most people are happy to help but need to be asked. This not only reduces your cost but saves you time as well.
Most importantly, having one complete list of everything you need means you won’t need to go back to the store multiple times leading up to Thursday. And we all know what usually happens when we run into the store just to buy whipped cream….we end up adding a bit of this or that, another few cheeses for the cheese tray (that we don’t need), or those cute little chocolate turkeys that were up by the register.
Also, most 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.). So when making your list, check out the local store flyers to see who has the best specials for the most items on your list. Shopping the specials does take an extra step, but it can result in savings in the range of 20 to 25% of your grocery costs.
2. Buy the Turkey at Your Grocery Store (vs. a specialty store):
The average price per pound for turkey is up again this year, along with the rising costs of groceries. The price will be considerable if you need to buy a 20 lb turkey for your crowd. If you still need to buy your turkey, check out 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 extensive taste tests by consumer groups comparing the pricier brands to the in-store ones, 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 and Ask for Help:
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 nine 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, some items make no sense to buy ready-made items in the store. Our top tips for saving on Thanksgiving by making it at home:
- Brining Solution: this is literally salt, water, and some spices. Don’t be tempted to buy the nicely packaged brining solution in the stores at an incredible markup…you can make your own for pennies! If you google homemade brines, you will have a huge list to choose from.
- Gravy: after you buy the turkey from the store, you have everything you need for a great gravy, with just some flour, cornstarch, 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 stock bought 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 a great tradition to do with the kids and a big money saver. If you are 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 will most likely take a bottle to parties or give one as a hostess gift. It just makes it so much easier to have it on hand. It will cost more upfront, but you will spend less over the holiday season.
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, it’s not a bad idea to stock up on wine gift bags, too so you always have an easy gift ready to go!