Thanksgiving is just weeks away! Do you feel like Thanksgiving is really the beginning of the holiday season? To me, it beckons the commencement of a season full of Christmas music, holiday travel, parties, and of course, spending money.
Many start their Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. Though the frenzy of shoppers has died down in recent years, Black Friday is still a hectic and expensive day for Americans.
Retailers are especially conscious of the significance of Thanksgiving, since 30-40% of their annual revenue comes in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s an expensive season!
And though the actual Thanksgiving meal has become surprisingly affordable, averaging a total of around $50 for a gathering of 10 people, it helps to save wherever possible.
So if you’re hosting a Thanksgiving meal this year, here are 6 ways to keep your costs low and stomachs full.
1. Keep it Simple.
This one is most difficult for me because I like to try new recipes and experiment with different ingredients. In order to save money, I have to avoid recipes that require a small quantity of an unusual ingredient that I probably won’t use again.
Make a list of all the basics you want to serve – turkey, potatoes, greens, dressing/stuffing, cranberries, and dessert. Then avoid duplicating similar dishes. For example, there’s probably no need for twice-baked potatoes, and sweet potato casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes. Pick one, and make plenty.
2. Buy in Bulk.
While you’re planning your meals, find ways to use the same ingredients in more than one dish so you can buy in bulk. Green onions make a great addition to potatoes, salad, green beans, and dressing. Planning your shopping list to be the most efficient will help you save on costs and hassle.
3. Plan Leftovers.
Of course one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving meal is the leftovers! Try to plan dishes that can be saved and repurposed, like a turkey sandwich to pack for your Black Friday shopping. If you can stretch your Thanksgiving meal past Thursday evening, you’ll save even more money. If you can get 5 meals, including Thanksgiving meal, out of all your food, that will work out to be $1 per person per meal. What a deal!
4. Make it a Potluck.
Of course distributing the costs of the Thanksgiving meal is a fun way to share in the celebration and costs! If you’re hosting, you should be responsible for preparing the basics, like the turkey, beverages, and a staple side, like stuffing. Let everyone else sign up to bring a dish!
5. Shop Around.
The turkey is probably going to be the most expensive part of the meal, so shop around for a few weeks to try and find the best price. Buying a frozen turkey will save you money, but remember that it can take 3-5 days to thaw, so plan ahead. Look for coupons and make sure you have an accurate headcount of guests so you buy the right size.
6. Use Smaller Plates.
This may help you save money and your waistline! Using slightly smaller plates means they’ll fill up faster and (hopefully) leave you more food for leftovers.
Of course, a budget is an essential part of having a stress-free Thanksgiving. Use Crown’s simple guide to make a budget you love this holiday season.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Share your budget-friendly ideas with us!