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  • Writer's picturePenny L.

Thanksgiving on a Budget!

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Many people are struggling financially this holiday season due to the economic uncertainty and subsequent layoffs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, among other factors. However, just because finances are tight this year and people are looking for ways to economize, you don’t have to go without a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year. Here are a few tips to help you have a great meal and keep you on budget:

Watch for Sales/ Rewards

Most grocery stores will have big sales in the week preceding the Thanksgiving holiday. The most expensive is most often is the turkey. A turkey big enough to feed a family of four can set you back $30 to $40. However, if you catch a store brand on sale you can typically knock up to 75 percent off the cost. The same goes for side dishes, like yams, stuffing and even deserts. Some credit cards provide cash back rewards on grocery purchases.

Plan a Menu

Planing out what you want to serve and how many people you have for dinner will help you know exactly how much of everything you need to buy and will maximize your savings. For example, to account for the weight of the bones, a good rule of thumb for figuring the size of the turkey is one pound for each person. This means a six pound turkey will feed six adults. Here are some other things to keep in mind while menu planning:

• Confirm the number of guests before planning your menu.

• Look for the number of servings that are listed on the package of things like stuffing and frozen vegetables.

• One large size potato will feed one adult or two children.

If you are serving more nontraditional menu items, like lasagna, calculate servings by total weight. For example if you have 10 people to feed you should make a one-half pound serving per person, or five total pounds of lasagna. This would equal roughly two pounds of meat, one pound of ricotta, one pound of mozzarella and one 16-ounce jar of sauce.

Make a Shopping List

Just like Santa will be doing in about a month, you need to make a list of everything you need and check it twice before you hit the grocery store. If you don’t have a list, and just try to remember everything in your head, you will undoubtedly buy too much and blow your budget. If you need extra spending money, check out this site that pays up to $25 per survey.

Make it from Scratch

Unless you are super-sale shopper and a crack coupon clipper, you will undoubtedly save yourself a sizable chunk of change by making as much a possible from scratch. Bread, rolls, cakes, pies and cookies as well as fresh vegetables, fruit salads and Jello molds can all be made at home and will also taste fresher than buying things already made.

Have a Pot Luck

For people with a large extended family, or lots of friends coming over, having a pot-luck dinner can significantly reduce costs as well as and preparation time. Make a list of everyone who will be coming and as then to bring one specific dish.

Remember that many people are in similar financial situation as you are this year and you don’t have to break the bank when preparing your holiday dinner. Keep these savings tips in mind this year and you can have a wonderful Thanksgiving on a budget with family and friends.

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