Tips for Saving on Your Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving is often considered the ultimate feast. It is perhaps the most popular eating holiday of the year, and deservedly so, but it can end up being one of the most expensive meals of the year if you aren’t careful.
Popular entertainment has painted quite an unrealistic picture of this celebration with overflowing tables, oversized birds and endless rows of desserts. Magazines feature a spread large enough to feed an army, literally. But what if I told you that you can actually achieve an unforgettable Thanksgiving meal without going over the top? Cooking a delicious feast for your friends and family doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg.
- First and foremost, pay attention to portions. Excessively sized dishes almost always equal excessive spending, and honestly, it is just not necessary. Obtain a headcount for your meal and cook accordingly. Downsize on your turkey or opt for a turkey breast if you are only feeding a handful of folks. Choose smaller baking dishes to prepare your side items. Cut some of your recipes in half, if appropriate. Only cook for the number of people you expect plus one or two extra if you want to be safe.
- Pre-slice or cut each dish into the appropriate serving sizes. Instead of letting your guests pile on heaping spoonfuls that are likely to be wasted anyway, make self-serving easier and more reasonable with pre-determined portion control. If you are serving several dishes, you can easily halve each portion size without fear of starving your guests.
- Speaking of servings, consider making cupcakes or individual pies for your guests instead of an entire dessert table. Typically people overeat during the meal and would likely appreciate less pressure to continue indulging on sweets.
- Another way to prevent your party guests from gorging is to offer smaller or slotted plates.
- Avoid over the top decorations and stick with the less expensive DIY options like pine cones, sticks and cute dollar store finds.
- Create your menu ahead of time and stick to it. Keep an eye on sales several weeks before Thanksgiving so you have more opportunities to take advantage of lower prices. Many grocery stores will offer holiday incentives when you shop at their store on a regular basis, so be sure to take advantage of these freebies whenever possible.
- Avoid recipes with rare or expensive items. Make substitutions to reduce costs whenever possible.
- Keep it simple — instead of complex concoctions, consider the immensely popular (and usually cost effective) crowd pleasers like cheese and crackers, sausage balls and homemade dip.
- Another option is to skip out on multiple appetizers and serve a large salad instead.
- Have guests pitch in by bringing a dish to share, dessert or drinks. Sharing the cost of this feast is definitely a great way to reduce the pressure on your personal wallet.
- If you prefer to do it all yourself, keep drink options limited to water, tea and perhaps lemonade.
- Finally, even though it may go against the grain, you might consider redefining your Thanksgiving meal altogether. Get together for breakfast or brunch instead of dinner. Serve a nontraditional meal of pasta or grill out with hotdogs and burgers. Feeding your friends and family members does not always have to be predictable, and doing something out of the norm can often be much more cost effective than the traditional turkey, stuffing and green bean casserole.
When it comes to saving money on your Thanksgiving meal, a little creativity and a lot of planning can certainly go a long way.