Thanksgiving on a budget doesn’t mean you have to go with less. It simply means developing a strategy to spend less. Most people shop for Thanksgiving dinner a few days beforehand, shop impulsively when doing so, and spend a small fortune. It doesn’t have to be that way. Thanksgiving is a special holiday, but there’s no need to spend more than what you need if you are hosting this year’s big dinner. You can have a bountiful meal for your family and friends and stretch your dollar to get more for your money. Here are a few simple tips to cut costs and enjoy the day.
1. Plan Your Menu in Advance and Then Prepare a Budget
Creating a menu and preparing a budget can lead to savings for any Thanksgiving dinner. First, brainstorm foods you are considering for your menu. Write them down and make a decision. For example, if you’re thinking vegetables like peas, broccoli, corn, potatoes or sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots pick two or three for the dinner table (hint: you typically get the most for your dollar with potatoes and carrots). Once you know what you are going to serve you can prepare a budget and begin shopping.
2. Shop Early
With a menu in hand and a budget in mind, begin shopping a month early. Read grocery store flyers and cut out coupons from the Sunday paper or look online. Shop for the two-for-one cans of pumpkin or cranberry sauce, packaged or frozen vegetables, or any Thanksgiving ingredients for dessert or stuffing. Buy in bulk if the opportunity is there.
3. Stick with Your List, Buy What You Need
You can save by shopping early in the weeks before Thanksgiving, but just as importantly, when walking down the grocery store isles, stick to the list and don’t be lured into any impulse buys. Doing so can add up quickly and cost you more in the long run.
4. Ways to Save on Turkey
Consider that the turkey can run up to 40 percent of the cost of the meal and that frozen turkeys are generally less per pound than fresh turkeys. If you are set on a fresh bird, keep an eye out for sales or scour for store or brand coupons. Sales on frozen turkeys in the weeks before thanksgiving are common. Store-brand frozen turkeys are even less.
5. Make Thanksgiving Dinner a Group Effort
If you’re hosting family and friends, don’t be bashful to ask for help. In fact, most will be more than happy to pitch in and participate. It doesn’t have to be a potluck (though that is an option), simply ask guests to bring a side dish—vegetables and casseroles, appetizers, a bottle or two of wine, or desserts. You’ll save costs, but also reduce the time you have to spend in the kitchen and increase the time with your company.
6. Prepare from Scratch
True, it is more time-consuming, but the more dishes you prepare from scratch the more money you can save. After all, prepared or premixed packaged dishes are, in general, less healthy than say, the cream you can whip up yourself. It also tastes much better. You can make your own breadcrumbs for stuffing, and even rolls, biscuits, and desserts and save money.
7. Why not Soup?
Soup is not only an option when doing Thanksgiving on a budget, but it is also an excellent choice to begin the meal. It’s inexpensive, adds a nice touch, and a ladle full before the main course and all the trimmings is not too filling.
8. Scale Down the Amount of Food You Make
Once you have established your guest count, only prepare as much food as you and your guests need. That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of food for dinner. It simply means to cook the right amount of food for you and your guests. The only downside—cooking what you need means there will be limited if any, leftovers.
If after these cost-saving tips for doing Thanksgiving on a budget still won’t cover your expenses, Tio Rico may be able to help. If you need cash for unexpected emergencies, contact us today. We work closely with individuals and families in Arizona trying to get on their feet.