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5 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

5 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Are you in charge of bringing the stuffing? If your responsibility is to bring more than wine to the Thanksgiving table, you likely have some work ahead of you. And because this is no ordinary meal, it requires strategy and planning ahead. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner on a tight budget, the pressure is doubled!

Saving Money Doesn’t Have To Mean Compromising on Flavor or Ambiance

So, let’s cut straight to the chase (as you don’t have much time!). Here are 5 simple ways to cut away at your spending and help you deliver the best Thanksgiving meal on time and within your budget:

1. Most of the cost is in the turkey – go frozen!

Frozen turkeys are less expensive – sometimes around $1.20 / lb vs. a fresh turkey, which can be $10 / lb. Of course it is best to buy them as soon as possible, which means you should have bought it weeks ago! However, there is still time. In New York City, I always prefer going to Fairway and Wegman’s when I went to school up in Rochester. While the frozen turkey is cheaper, it requires thawing. Be sure to safely thaw the bird before cooking!

2. Plan ahead. Check your inventory. Be a smarter shopper.

Too often, we are rushed to put together a list and find ourselves stuck in the middle of a crowded store feeling overwhelmed and indecisive. Be a smarter shopper for this Thanksgiving holiday! First, take the time to check your inventory at home. If you “shop from your cupboards and fridge first,” you’ll have a much better idea of what you are missing – and by how much. There’s a chance you stocked up on chicken broth ages ago, but forgot about it. So, instead of just skimming your items at home, take the time to really see what you have.
Most likely, your other family members are pitching in to bring food and drinks to the table. Before heading to the store, make sure you know what each person is bringing. No need to do double work!

3. Sharing is caring

As always, buying in bulk is cheaper overall. But, who has the space and the number of guests to buy all the ingredients in bulk? That’s why it’s best to make group trips to Costco, Walmart, and large grocery stores. Whether it’s flour, potatoes, or even holiday napkins, if you all decide to share in the quantity, you can end up saving a good amount of money!

4. Borrow what you can

The holiday season, in general, is a great time to borrow and also help out others when you can. If you would like to add some more sophistication to the table, but don’t have the kind of vases or serving trays you imagine in your mind, please don’t go out and buy them specifically for this occasion. If you don’t plan on using something on a daily basis, it is not worth making the purchase. Perhaps you can think of close friends and family who have these home items and would be happy to lend them to you for your Thanksgiving dinner.

5. Stick to the classics

Some of the chefs and cooking enthusiasts out here might disagree with this last point, but I personally find that sticking to the classics and what I know to cook is beneficial to both my guests and my wallet. Focus on nailing your traditional dishes in order to avoid costly (and potentially inedible) mistakes. I personally like the Food Network recipes and of course, as with many other food sites, they have a whole section dedicated to creating a budget-friendly Thanksgiving menu.

What are the classics you stick to you? Where do you go for budget-friendly recipes? And finally, have a great Thanksgiving dinner! Remember, this is an opportunity to give thanks, so don’t get too stressed and caught up in the planning. I leave you with the Simpsons :)

Simpson's Thanksgiving

About Jessica J.

A native New Yorker, Jessica left behind the Big Apple almost 4 years ago to pursue new adventures around the world. Powered by caffeine and a relentless curiosity, she has now settled in Tel Aviv Jaffa with her husband, American cat, and a new appreciation for budget management.
  • Elisebet F

    I’ve only hosted Thanksgiving dinner twice, and both times it went well. I asked family to each bring a dish, and I knew ahead of time what they were, so there wouldn’t be duplicates. This year, my parents are hosting, and I think the menu’s pretty much set. I’m flying in from a different state, so I can’t bring anything, but I’ll be helping my mom in the kitchen. I like the idea of shopping at stores at Costco. We keep talking about whether or not it’d be worth it to get a membership there or at BJ’s. Maybe it would be!

    • Jessica J.

      Helping in the kitchen is a great way to contribute. I recommend getting a membership at either Costco or BJ’s (although I’ve never shopped at BJ’s). They have really amazing deals on not just groceries, but on clothing and even televisions! Have a safe trip over to your parents and enjoy your holiday!

      • Elisebet F

        Thanks, Jessica!

  • http://veggiesandglitter.com/ Casey

    This is a great list of tips! I worked at a grocery store all through college, and it astounded me every year how so many people would try to buy canned pumpkin, cranberries, etc. on the day before Thanksgiving! I make sure to buy everything as well in advance as I can, although last year I bought some of the perishables a little TOO early and had to buy them all over again because I let them get bad. LOL

    • Jessica J.

      I used to be one of those super late customers frantically shopping around last minute! You made a good point that buying the perishables early on (but not too early) also saves on cost!

  • http://www.giveaways4mom.com/ Victoria H

    These are some great tips. I had no idea that frozen turkeys were cheaper though. I usually by them frozen and spend a little over $20 on it.