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7 simple ways to save on your Thanksgiving feast
Thanksgiving is a beautiful time to reflect on our blessings, be with family and friends, and… well… pig out on fabulous food. And even though you may look forward to feasting – your budget doesn't. Here are 7 simple ways to save on your Thanksgiving feast that your wallet will be thankful you used.
1. Make less.
Thanksgiving can easily become synonymous with over-abundance. In an effort to make it special, we make too much of too many dishes. To save, only plan to make the dishes most loved and requested. Then, for the dishes you do make, don't overestimate how much each person will eat. Bear in mind that extras like cranberry sauce and any appetizers or munchies will cut into people's appetites. Not mention wanting to save room for dessert!
Use these estimated catering equations for amounts per person to better plan and end up with just the right amount of leftovers:
Meats = 4 ounces per person
Sides = About 1/2 cup per person, per side; cut to 1/4 cup per person if having numerous sides
Breads = 2 per person
Desserts = 1-2 small pieces per person
Cut all amounts in half for children.
Add approximately 10-15% more if you want plenty of leftovers.
Here is an example: You're expecting 20 people for Thanksgiving, and are making mashed potatoes. For that number of people, you'll need about 10 cups of mashed potatoes, which is about 8-9 pounds raw. By making 10 pounds, you should have enough for everyone, plus leftovers.
2. Make plans for leftovers.
No matter how you end up with leftovers, you need a plan to use them up. Uneaten food is money thrown away. Research recipe suggestions so nothing ends up wasted.
3. Share responsibilities.
Making your feast potluck-style spreads the cost out, helping your family's budget.
4. Use natural decor.
It can be tempting to buy fancy Thanksgiving-themed decor and cute centerpieces. Save a bundle by hunting outside for free fall decorations, like acorns, sprigs of pine, pine cones, and more. Gently wash them to remove any debris or dirt, dry thoroughly, and arrange with items you already have on hand, such as pillar candles or cinnamon sticks.
5. Focus on loss leaders.
Thanksgiving is one of the best times of year to land great loss leaders at local stores. These are the items stores know they won't make any money on, but sell at a great price to get you in the door. The hope is that you'll pick up a lot of other things – just because you're already there – at full price. Focus your grocery trips to regular grocers on the loss leaders, and hunt for deals on everything else at lower priced stores, like Aldi or Save A Lot.
6. Use simple recipes.
Delicious doesn't have to be complicated. Stick with simple recipes that use common ingredients to avoid needing expensive or specialty ingredients.
7. Make rather than buy.
Unless you're out of time or are a disaster in the kitchen, make as many dishes from scratch as possible. This is almost always the least expensive route. An easy example is premade veggie trays. For the same cost as one average deli-made tray, you could make five of them.