10 Tips For A Frugal Thanksgiving Celebration

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The recent economic down turn means that consumers will have to be more frugal when planning their Thanksgiving celebration.  According to statistics, the average American family spends around $120 to feed 10-12 people on Thanksgiving Day.  But fret not!  It is possible to have a fabulously frugal Thanksgiving celebration.

1) Make a Menu and Stick to It

“The most important way to save money on your Thanksgiving dinner is to make a holiday menu and stick with it” says Heather Oretga, the frugal living expert at Menus4Moms. “When you go to shop for ingredients, go alone so you have no distractions and can get the best deals on all of the items on you list.”

To help consumers with their menu planning, some websites post a menu and a list of ingredients for that menu on their websites.  Mary Ann Kelley, owner of Menus4Moms.com does just that every year.  This year, the menu and shopping list will be posted online mid-November to provide ample time for shopping.

2) Have a Pot Luck Style Dinner

When I was growing up, every year our family gathered at my grandmother’s house to celebrate the holiday.  Our family was quite large and in order to make the celebration more affordable, my grandmother asked all of the participating families to bring a side dish to share.

My mother always made the fruit salad. What she couldn’t get locally, she bought canned when the particular item would go on sale.

3) Buy Locally

Bonnie Tamandl, head cook of a food service company in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania suggests that consumers use local ingredients when ever possible.  “Many communities have farmer’s markets where you can buy fresh produce and other food items cheaper than you can get in the local supermarket.  Plus, you are supporting the local economy when you shop locally. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

4) Stock Up When Ingredients Go On Sale

Mary Ann suggests that consumers should stock up their pantries when items go on sale at the grocery store and shop from their pantries..  You can save money by purchasing items when they go on sale through out the year instead of making one huge shopping trip right before Thanksgiving.  Not only will a well stocked pantry save you time and money, but it will save you lots of stress.  It’s much easier to shop from ingredients stored in your pantry than to fight the crowds at the local store.

5) Use Store Brands and Coupons When Possible

When shopping at the store for ingredients, check out the prices of the store brand products.  Sometimes, it’s actually cheaper to buy a store brand without a coupon than it is to purchase a name brand item that is on sale.

Many grocery stores have a club card where shoppers can get additional savings off groceries.  Be sure to apply for and use the club card at the grocery stores where you will be shopping.

6) Take Advantage of Turkey Deals

The turkey is the most expensive item on your Thanksgiving menu. In order to cut costs, look for deals on turkeys at your local grocery store.

Some stores give away turkeys if a certain amount of groceries have been purchased over a month.  Be sure to save your receipts!  Other stores will credit a discount on turkeys if a shopper purchases a certain amount of groceries during a shopping trip.  At one local grocery store in our area, consumers can buy a turkey for 49 cents a pound if they purchase $100 of groceries during that shopping trip.  That’s a deal!

7) Don’t Purchase Things You Won’t Use Again

“One area where consumers waste their money this time of year is purchasing things that they will only use once a year,” relays Heather.  “You don’t need a $50.00 roaster oven to cook your turkey in once a year when there are aluminum pans for sale for just 99 cents.  Nothing is a bargain if it won’t be used, no matter what the price tag says.”

8) Cooking At Home Saves Money

I’ve seen many offers lately for pre-cooked meals that can be bought at restaurants.  The overall price seems to be good and so I asked my expert interviewees if eating out for Thanksgiving might be a frugal option.

“I have used restaurant take out service and also the “heat and serve” meals from the local grocery store” says Heather.  “It just doesn’t taste the same.  One year I sat down and figured it out and I found out that I could have saved more than $30 just by making the meal myself.  Plus, it would have tasted better!”

Bonnie agrees that it’s cheaper to cook the meal yourself.  “But, if that isn’t possible, there are ways to save money when eating out.”  Bonnie suggests finding a restaurant that offers the complete meal, including the dessert for one price.  If you are unable to finish the entire meal, be sure to ask for a “doggie bag” and bring the leftovers home to re-heat.  Ordering water to drink instead of soda or tea is also a great way to save some extra money very easily.

9) Use Leftovers for Future Meals

Even though you may be tired of turkey after your Thanksgiving meal, don’t throw out the leftovers.  You can freeze leftover turkey to use in future meals.  Leftover vegetables can be mixed together and frozen for use in soups and casseroles.  If your family enjoys eating soup throughout the year, you can create turkey broth by boiling the turkey frame in a large stock pot filled with water.  Once the broth cools, freeze it in bags.  Defrost and use as needed for soup stock.

10) Buy Inexpensive Paper Products

Many families serve Thanksgiving dinner on their best china; others serve dinner on paper plates.  Be sure to look for sturdy paper products if you decide to use paper plates.  Decorative napkins can also be purchases inexpensively by shopping at discount stores.  Be sure to shop early for the best selection.

By using these frugal tips, you and your family are sure to have a frugal, yet fabulous Thanksgiving celebration!


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