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Thanksgiving on a Budget

Tablesetting with an orange raffia pumpkin and white plate

Thanksgiving Meal Plan

It has begun. The first of the grocery sales flyers landed in my mailbox this week. I was almost giddy with excitement.Not only do I love the Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, but the holiday sales season is a great time to stock up on foods we enjoy all year long. In fact, we just finished up the last can of cranberry sauce that I bought for a screaming deal last year.When I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal some fifteen or twenty years ago, I was stunned that a meal could be so expensive. That one meal cost as much as a week's worth of groceries! Since then I've learned a few tricks to keeping our turkey dinner under budget.
  1. Don't wait until the last minute.
    If you wait until the week of Turkey Day, you may pay full pop for basic ingredients. You won't be able to take advantage of the great deals available in the weeks leading up to it. Standard Thanksgiving ingredients, like turkeys, butter, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, and a plethora of baking supplies go on sale starting in early November. But the sales rotate. What's on sale one week, might be full price the next. Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. Make a meal plan now.
    If you determine your guest list and your meal plan now, you'll be able to take better advantage of those sales and take guests up on their offers to bring something. Advance planning typically helps you offset costs.
  3. Let guests contribute.
    There's no law that says you have to cook it all. If a guest offers to bring something, accept their offer. It's less work for you, reduces your overall costs, and lets your guests have the joy of participating. Don't require it of company; you're the host. But, if someone offers, say, 'Yes!'
  4. Don't get all fancy.
    Folks really like familiar comfort foods on Thanksgiving. Busting out new recipes and experimenting may not go over as well as you think it will. Plus, it will cost more money. Limit your culinary adventures to one or two dishes and stick with familiar standbys for the rest of the menu. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg on a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, a budget-friendly meal is much less stressful since you'll be planning ahead, stocking up on great deals, sharing the load, and keeping things simple.
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