Thanksgiving on A Budget – 5 Ways to Save

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Should the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner be turkey, ham, or tofu? For some U.S. households, this is an easy choice. For others, preference is no longer the only factor in this important decision. With the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner up 13.5% from last year, families are looking for simple ways to enjoy festive holiday meals on a budget.

Here are five tips that could help keep more money in your wallet and still let you enjoy breaking bread with friends and family.

1. Set A Spending Limit

Commit to a meal plan — and a budget — before you toss your first item into your grocery cart. While you might be planning a traditional roasted turkey dinner, glazed ham might be cheaper this year. Check local grocery store circulars for cost per pound, and determine how many adults and children you plan to feed. If you suspect your budget isn’t enough to feed your guests even after substituting dishes, adopt other tips to lower your out-of-pocket costs.

2. Create A Shopping List

A Thanksgiving Day meal shopping list starts in your pantry and refrigerator. Save money by checking your holiday menu against your existing food supplies before leaving for the grocery store. You might already have several ingredients on hand. If you need cookware or an ingredient you’ll only use once, consider removing it from your list and borrowing it from a friend or family member.

3. Host A Potluck

Ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert. Sharing the responsibility can take some of the pressure off of you to spend, while ensuring unique tastes or dietary requirements, such as vegan, gluten-free, etc., are satisfied. Note what each guest will bring to avoid too much of one dish and not enough of another. For guests who prefer not to cook, request that they bring a seasonal centerpiece, dinnerware, store-bought dessert, ice, or carbonated beverage.

4. Shop Off-Brand

Name-brand items are often more expensive than their generic counterparts. While it’s easy to substitute store-brand paper towels and carbonated water, you might be hesitant with a turkey or crucial ingredient. If you’re not willing to take the risk, use in-store and manufacturer coupons to lower the cost of the name-brand goods you must have.

5. Go Alcohol-Free

Remove alcoholic beverages from your shopping list. Purchasing beer, wine, or liquor for all of your adult guests could easily bust your budget. Instead, have guests bring an alcoholic beverage of choice that they’re willing to share. This takes the pressure off your budget and gives guests a way to ensure an enjoyable meal with their favorite beverage.

Careful planning is key to saving money on Thanksgiving Day expenses. So now, please pass the gravy!

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