How to Have a Traditional Thanksgiving Feast on a Budget

food, dining, restaurantThanksgiving is a time when most households celebrate with the largest meal of the year.  While this means full plates and happy guests, it can also place a huge expense on the host or hostess of the turkey-day gathering.  Below are some money saving tips that will ensure both your guests and your wallet stay full.

Let’s start with the turkey himself.  Although birds from fresh meat markets may have a better flavor and texture, supermarket turkeys can be just as tasty for only about $2 per pound.  This is a whopping savings over the $10 per pound and upwards what you could pay for birds from a meat market.  Not only are these birds a better value, but for just around $2.30 more you can purchase a large box of kosher salt and use it to brine your turkey.  Brining will add flavor and improve the texture of cheaper birds.  You’ll be rejoicing over the savings, and your friends and family will never even know the difference.

Cooking the majority of your meal from scratch will yield substantial savings.  Traditional store bought items include bakery pies, canned cranberry sauce, and frozen pie crusts.  This year instead of splurging on these items, research some recipes and try making them yourself.  Remember that you can always alter recipes or choose a less expensive alternative.  For example, pumpkin pies are much cheaper to make than pecan pies because pecans are an expensive ingredient.  Also, eliminating an herb that you don’t already own usually won’t make a noticeable difference in flavor, and it can save you a few dollars on expensive dried herbs.

When shopping for ingredients for your favorite holiday creations, know when to buy canned or frozen items versus fresh.  Canned pumpkin runs about $1.80 per can and contains enough to make an entire pie.  Alternatively you could buy a fresh pumpkin for around $5 dollars and spend all day hassling with it to produce what will probably end up being a less tasty filling.   Frozen peas are another great Thanksgiving option.  You can purchase a bag of frozen baby peas for much cheaper than the fresh snow peas you’ll find in the produce section.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Asking friends or family members to bring a dish or beverage will never produce a negative reaction.  They understand that creating an entire Thanksgiving spread can be stressful and will be happy to pitch in.

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