It’s expensive enough these days to feed one family, let alone a house-full of Thanksgiving guests.
In this down economy, millions of hosts and hostesses across the U.S. will look for ways to save on their Thanksgiving grocery bills.
The good news is, a traditional Thanksgiving meal may cost a bit less than it did last year.
According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a feast for 10 will be $42.91, down from last year’s $44.61.
If you ask Wal-Mart, a dinner for eight can cost as little as $20. A Wal-Mart press release said that a $20 dinner includes a 12-pound turkey, three cans of vegetables, two cans of cranberry sauce, three 6-ounce boxes of stuffing, one 5-pound bag of red potatoes, one 12-count pack of dinner rolls and a 22-ounce pumpkin roll cake.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to cut corners on Thanksgiving dinner.
The obvious money-saving solution is to ask everyone to bring a dish. Don’t want to feel like a penny pincher? No worries. Most people want to bring something, so you might as well let them.
Jeannette Pavini, household savings expert for coupons.com, said to really save on Thanksgiving dinner, you need a plan. The first step is to get a head count. Then, consider all expenses, not just food and drink. Remember: You might also need things like ice, napkins and decorations.
“Once you figure out how much you’re spending per person, then you can look at each item and say, ‘OK, where can I save?’ ” Pavini said.
“Substituting ingredients is a great way. Sometimes, for example, if a recipe calls for crème fraiche, you can substitute with something that’s much less expensive like Greek yogurt.”
Here’s another thought: if you don’t have a huge dinner party, sub a turkey breast for a whole turkey.
Also, it’s OK to settle for the cheapest potatoes at the produce stand. No one will be able to tell once they’re mashed, seasoned and mixed with butter.
What about wine? Unless you’re serving a crowd of sommeliers, forget about fancy labels.
“Buy the less expensive wine and put it into a wine decanter,” Pavini said. “Nine times out of ten, people aren’t going to know you paid $2 or $3 for a bottle of wine. . .it’s kind of a good trick.”
Use the decanter trick for filtered tap water so you don’t have to buy bottled water either, Pavini added.
For the things you must buy, though, get the best prices by watching for coupons and sales fliers. Consider buying in bulk to save money, then splitting the food (and cost) with a neighbor. Make everything from scratch, as a convenience fee is built into the cost of most pre-cooked items.
Whatever you do to save, start doing it now. Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away.
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