If you're the one that is preparing the family Thanksgiving meal this year, perhaps you are already brainstorming about ways you can save money when shopping and decorating for Turkey Day. Believe it or not, Thanksgiving can be affordable, stress-free and you can still end up with plenty of leftovers! Here are 5 Tips for Saving Money this Thanksgiving:
1. Get a free turkey or ham! Did you read that right? Why yes, yes you did! Take a look at all of the promotions and sales papers being sent out by grocery stores in your area. Many grocery stores will offer a free turkey when you buy the bulk of your holiday staples in one trip at their store. Here is an example of a store in the Northeast offering just such a deal! Go get your free turkey or ham! http://www.shoprite.com/cnt/thanksgiving2011.html.
2. If the free turkey or ham deal has a minimum shopping limit required and you aren't planning to spend $300 at the grocery store (like you see on the link above), take a family member that will be joining you this year at your Thanksgiving Feast. Have them buy what they need for Thanksgiving (or just the groceries they already need) and sort out the bill when you get home. Both of you have your pantry stocked for the holidays and the turkey or ham you'll be eating this year was free, saving you anywhere from $25 to $75!
3. If you can't find a deal like this in your area, consider substituting chicken for your turkey, especially if you're cooking for a family of 4-6 people. Poll your family members - I'm always surprised by how many times I hear, "I like chicken better, but you just have to serve turkey at Thanksgiving. It's tradition!" Well, who says you can't start a new tradition this year? Last year I cooked for 4 instead of my usual 12-16 and the chicken was just as big a hit as a turkey would have been! Starting a new tradition of chicken in place of turkey can save you anywhere from $10-$50, depending on how big a turkey you normally buy (and people normally buy more than they need, which leads me to my next tip!).
4. Don't buy more food than you need! Thanksgiving is a feast, but keep the feast in line with the number of people that will be enjoying it! Believe it or not, the average person consumes somewhere in the neighborhood of ONE POUND of turkey on Thanksgiving! That's a lot of gobble gobble (yes, terrible pun intended!), but if you're only serving 4 people, that's only an 8 pound turkey. Don't buy a 16 pound turkey unless you have a LOT of recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers in your arsenal (subscribe to my blog so you'll have plenty of great recipes for after your big Turkey Day Feast!). Get your family to RSVP so that you know exactly how many to cook for.
5. Plan on serving side dishes that use the same ingredients over and over in different combinations. Broccoli Casserole, Potatoes au Gratin, Squash Casserole, homemade Macaroni and Cheese, and Turkey Dressing (which I serve even when I substitute chicken for turkey!) - they all need lots of onions, cheese, milk, garlic and the list goes on. Buying these items (like cheese) in bulk will save you money! Further, if you use these ingredients in multiple dishes, you will have less waste from ingredients you normally wouldn't use. Only use pumpkin pie spice for pumpkin pie? I don't! I also use it for my turkey!
Here's my turkey recipe that my family has been raving over for nearly 15 years (and no, the salt measurement is not a typo - trust me!). This recipe is a must have on your table! I've shared it before, but it's so great that I'm sharing it again.