Five Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner
By Carol J. Alexander
Families thrive on gathering for the holidays – especially Thanksgiving. But the expense of serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast for the entire clan can be cost-prohibitive for some folks. With grocery prices rising like the morning sun, moms often struggle enough to feed the family every day – not to mention a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all the other trimmings. If it’s your turn to have the tribe at your house, but you find yourself wanting to trim the trimmings, here are five ways to help lighten the load on your holiday budget.
Play the game
And we don’t mean football. If you want a traditional Thanksgiving meal you have to play the grocery store game. Start watching the ads early. Some stores require you to save your receipts to earn free or reduced-priced turkeys. Others offer a free turkey for a certain dollar amount in purchases. Do the math to see which store and which deal is the best for your family. Ingredients like sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin, butter, stuffing mix, and marshmallows go on sale during November. Watching the ads tells you when the price is right – not necessarily the week before Thanksgiving.
Ask for help
Just because the family gathering is at your house doesn’t mean you have to provide all the food. There is no reason why cousin Kate couldn’t bring the pies or sister Sally the stuffing. If you provide the turkey, ask each family unit to bring a dish. This is a great way for everyone to share in the load and appreciate the cooking skills and recipes of loved ones. In fact, have everyone bring their recipe typed on a 3×5 card. Collect all the cards and compile a little family cookbook to present to everyone else by Christmas.
Think outside the box
Do you really need to serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal? Take a poll of family members. Would pasta and salad suffice? Some families serve a different ethnic food each Christmas. Try having a Chinese or German feast instead. If the focus is on the fellowship and not the food, it doesn’t really matter what you eat.
Use your china
Modern families think nothing of splurging on paper when the tribe comes to feast. From paper tablecloths to paper plates, napkins, and cups, this habit adds a considerable expense to the meal. Show your family how special they are by breaking out the china. Do it up right with a linen tablecloth, silver, and crystal. If you are nervous about the children using your precious items, at least give them the Corelle. Since no one wants to get stuck in the kitchen, when the time comes to do the dishes make a game of getting it done.
Skip the meal altogether
Rather than keeping to yourselves this Thanksgiving, consider having the family serve in a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or nursing home. Sharing love with those less fortunate than ourselves brings greater rewards than lolling over-stuffed on the sofa in front of a ball game.
After sharing with others, invite the family back to your place for dessert and board games. You can even ask each family to bring their favorite pie.
Thanksgiving Day started as a time of remembrance and thanksgiving by people with grateful hearts full toward God for bringing them through tremendous hardship. May your Thanksgiving Days forever continue in that same spirit.
Carol J. Alexander is a freelance writer who lives with her family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where her tightwad ways have her getting four meals out of one chicken.