You have Football, folded hands and a lot of food. No, it’s not a tailgate party it is Thanksgiving dinner!
This time of year, most of us are beginning to think of our Christmas budget. We often overlook savings opportunities at Thanksgiving. But you can certainly find them! Use these 16 ways to save on Thanksgiving Dinner, and put the money you save in your gift envelope.
Thanksgiving Table Setting and Decor
This special meal calls for a special table setting. But you don’t have to buy a complete set at the store to get a beautiful look. Here’s how to do it for less.
1. What will you set on the table for your meal? If the china you got for your wedding has been gathering dust, pull it out and put it to use.
If you don’t have any fine china, search the thrift store for plates. They don’t have to match. Choose a theme (a color or a shape) and grab plates that fit. Maybe they’re all white, but different shapes or sizes. Variety makes it fun!
- Get crafty. You can create your own decor for the table. These Autumn Leaf Bowls found on Red Ted Art are beautiful. And you can make them yourself!
- Did you pick up some pie-sized pumpkins or gourds for Halloween? Keep them in a cool, dry place and they’ll still be in great shape for Thanksgiving. Add a coat of spray paint to make them fit your color scheme.
- Find a vase in a closet and put it to use! There are several things you can try. Fill it with acorns, pinecones, or whatever natural items you have access to. Top with a pretty branch and tags stating what you’re thankful for. Include the names of your guests. Add a battery powered string of lights for extra whimsy.You could also fill a vase with layers of colorful corn, nuts, and beans. Top it with a small candle.If you have kids at your table, fill the vase with candy. Ask them to guess how many are in the vase while they are waiting for the food to be served.
Be sure to check out Budget Friendly Homemaking Tips for Fall for more tips on fall decor.
The Thanksgiving Dinner
- When it comes to serving a big family, the quickest way to save on Thanksgiving dinner is to hold a potluck style meal. Ask each guest to bring a side dish or dessert. As the host, you can keep track of what each guest plans to bring. Too many pumpkin pies isn’t a bad thing, but a meal of nothing but turkey and 3 green bean casseroles won’t be fun.
- Stop serving foods just because they are traditional. If no one likes a dish, don’t make it. You’ll save time and energy.
If Uncle Marty loves oysters, but no one else will touch them, ask him to skip them this year. If you know that’s out of the question, at least make a smaller serving.
- Simplify! Thanksgiving dinner is a meal of abundance, but you don’t have to be over the top. Serve apple pie using sale priced apples instead of pricey pecan pie. Stick to one type of potatoes instead of two.
- Wait for rock bottom sales. November is an excellent time to find deals on most of the foods you’ll want to serve at your meal. Wait and watch ads for several different grocery stores. When they drop the price of the ingredients you’ll need, grab enough for the whole meal. (And maybe a bit extra for the pantry.)
The Thanksgiving Turkey
- Choose a fat turkey. Remember that when you buy a turkey, you’re paying for skin and bones along with that meat. Better to grab the bird with the most meat on its bones. If it’s too much for your meal, pull the extra meat and save it in the freezer for a soup or casserole later.
- Save the carcass. Once you’ve pulled all the meat from the bones, keep the bones. It can wait in the fridge or freezer. When you have time, put it in a stock pot with some celery scraps and carrot peelings. Cover it with water and let it boil on medium-low heat for an hour. Now you have stock to use in soups and stews.
- Cook frugally. Frying a turkey costs a fortune. The cost of the fryer, the oil, and the gas to keep it cooking is expensive. Instead, borrow a roaster or cook it in your oven.
If you’re worried about a dry bird, pull up the skin a bit and shove some pats of butter between the skin and the meat. Place a halved apple, onion, and/or garlic in the opening before you put it in the oven. The meat will be juicy and delicious!
- Wait for a sale. Turkey can be some of the cheapest meat you’ll buy all year. Watch stores for sales. Some require an additional $10 or $20 purchase with the bird, so keep back some cash for that. You should also be able to find ingredients for other parts of the meal on sale to bring you to that amount.
The Thanksgiving Sides
- Potatoes are your friend. You’ll find sweet potatoes and russet potatoes on good sales in November. Use them! You’ll find recipes for mashed potatoes in the crockpot. Sweet potato casseroles can be topped with marshmallows or nuts.
- Roasted vegetables. If you’re looking for a cheap veggie to make, try roasting frugal squash, potatoes, garlic, and onions. Drizzle with honey and roast them for 40 minutes.
- I make stuffing for nearly free, and it doesn’t take me long to make it. How? My family doesn’t eat bread ends. Whenever I find ends, I rip them into small chunks. Then I add them to a Ziploc bag in my freezer. I save them until I’m ready to make bread pudding or stuffing. Then I spread them out on cookie sheets to dry out a few hours before I’m ready to use them. You can use that tip with any bread that’s beginning to dry out.
- We love homemade rolls, but there’s hardly time to make them in the rush of the day on Thanksgiving. I make them a few days earlier. Then I bake them for 4 or 5 minutes so they are set. I put the pan into the freezer for several hours. Once they start to freeze, you can pour them into a bag and they won’t stick to each other. On Thanksgiving, pull them out and bake them for 10-15 minutes just before you serve Thanksgiving dinner.
The money you’ll save on your Thanksgiving Dinner is just one more thing to be thankful for! After the meal, enjoy some football in the yard or on the television. And have a blessed Thanksgiving! What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?
Looking for more ideas for entertaining guests in the fall? Be sure to check out 17 Finds to Throw a Frugal, Fun, Family Friendly Fall Party