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How to save money on Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner
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Lauren Greutman |
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Thanksgiving Dinner, what could be more American? We sit around the dining room table stuffing ourselves with all the fixings, while having great conversations with family.  The only thing not cool about Thanksgiving is the cost of it all! You could spend $150 on an Organic Turkey (trust me, I’ve tried that and OUCH was it expensive). You could also grab a Butterball or store brand turkey on the cheap. Your guests won’t know the difference, so why not find ways to save money this Thanksgiving?

For years, when I was deep in debt we didn’t have money to throw a big Thanksgiving Feast, so we turned to friends and family to help make it possible. Just because it is an important holiday, doesn’t mean you have to go broke throwing it! Your friends and family do not know how much money you spent, and you don’t have to feel bad just because you had a budget.

RELATED: How to set a Black Friday budget

To learn how to throw a Thanksgiving feast on a budget you will need to know some important things.

Save on Thanksgiving dinner with these 16 tips!

First thing is to find a deal on a turkey

  1. Early November is the perfect time to find your bird of choice. Take a look at the sales in your local store circulars, or use the Favado App to compare prices across stores.
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for coupons on name brand turkeys. We often see coupons come out specifically for Butterball turkeys. We also typically see a mail-in rebate of some sort as well.
  3. To find out how much turkey you need, assume each person = 1.5 pounds of Turkey.  If you are having 10 people, I would suggest a 15 pound bird.  You will have some leftovers (which is always preferred in my house), so if you prefer to not have any leftover you can aim for around 1.25 lbs. per person.
  4. Look for free turkey promotions. Many grocery stores run them in the month of November for purchasing certain items.
  5. Opt for a frozen turkey instead of a fresh one. Frozen turkeys retail up to 40% less than fresh birds. Just make sure you give yourself ample time to defrost it before cooking.

Save money on the fixings

  1. Growing up I always saw my mom put the heel pieces of bread in a bag in the freezer. When I grew older and had my own family, I asked her why she did that. She told me that she would put the heels of the bread in the freezer because no one liked them, then would use those to make Thanksgiving stuffing. Brilliant! Just make sure you lay the bread out for a couple of days on a baking sheet to get all the moisture out, that way your stuffing can absorb the broth and liquids when being made.
  2. Save celery and carrot ends in a freezer bag throughout the year. Then use those to stuff the bird. (Should be free!)
  3. Avoid prepared foods – you will pay up to 40% more for boxed versions of stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.
  4. Look for coupons for prepared items if you decide to go that route. We typically see coupons for stuffing, cranberries, whipped topping and turkeys.

Don’t skimp on desserts

I don’t know about you, but desserts are pretty much the only reason why I eat my turkey. The smell of apple pie is in the air, and that pumpkin pie is just too good!  Here are some ways to save money on desserts:

  1. Make them yourself. You can pay 100% more if you buy yours pre-made and frozen.
  2. If you think ahead, you can pre-make apple pie filling and freeze it. Buy your apples in season in the fall, make the apple pie filling and then stick it in a freezer bag. Simply defrost it and then place into your homemade pie crust.
  3. Make your own whipping cream – you only need confectioners sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream. It is SO simple and tastes much better!
  4. Buy your canned pumpkin NOW! Retailers are expecting a shortage of pumpkin this year, so don’t be left empty handed.
  5. Make the kids something different like pumpkin-shaped Rice Krispies Treats. My kids will often take 2-3 bites out of their dessert, but they LOVE Rice Krispie Treats.  It is less expensive for me to make a platter of those, instead of wasting 5 pieces of pie.
  6. Ask Friends/Family to bring either a bottle of wine or a dessert.  That can help you save even more time and money!

Planning is key, and don’t be afraid to ask your guests to help and bring along a side dish or dessert.

Combine all or some of these Thanksgiving savings tips and you should have a much healthier budget leading up to Christmas!

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