Talking Turkey: Thanksgiving Shopping Tips

Making sure you feed your family without gorging on credit card debt.

5 Thanksgiving shopping tips to help you have a frugal family meal

Tip No. 1: Count portions carefully

Most people buy way too much turkey and few count servings in a recipe. But both of these easy tasks can help ensure that you stay on budget for your meal. Also consider your eaters. For example, as we noted in the video, the average diner eats 1.2 pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving. However, kids and dieters are unlikely to eat that much, so you can plan for less.

Also, make sure to compare servings sizes on other dishes to your guest list. If a recipe serves eight but you’re only feeding your immediate family of four, then halve it.

Tip No. 2: Limit options

Another way people go overboard on food is by offering too many options for each dish. A family member doesn’t like turkey, so you have two different proteins. Then you cook two pies for the great pumpkin versus pecan pie divide in most families.

Offering too many options usually just leads to food waste. So, keep things simple and streamlined: one protein, one dessert, a few sides. If you have a vegan or vegetarian coming to dinner, make them something small using the recipe cutting tip above.

Tip No. 3: Buy in bulk

There are at least two big holiday meals and possibly some entertaining you’ll do over the holiday season. So, there are a range of items that you can buy in bulk without major concerns that the food will spoil. Things like cocktail pickles and olives, pecans, canned vegetables and cranberries, disposable plates and silverware can all be purchased in bulk. You can also purchase a lot of beverage in bulk, too.

Tip No. 4: Potluck / BYOB

Another smart way to reduce the financial burden of a big family meal is to share the cost between everyone. Ask your guests to bring one dish, like dessert, an hor d’oeuvre or a side dish. This is especially useful if you’re cooking for 12 people or more, because such big meals can get costly quickly.

If you want to cook all the food yourself, then ask guests to bring their own beverages. You can limit this to alcohol and offer sodas and juice yourself for kids and mixers. That keeps you from burning through money on wine, beer and hard liquor.

Tip No. 5: Don’t waste your leftovers

Think beyond the turkey sandwich by going online and looking up “Thanksgiving leftover recipes.” You can find good uses for everything from leftover sweet potato casserole and stuffing to cranberries and even dessert. Every meal you create out of leftovers is less money you throw away.

It’s also less money that you have to spend at the grocery store to cover other meals over Thanksgiving Weekend. Not having to pay for a few days of food because of leftovers may balance out the big grocery costs for Thanksgiving, so you keep your food budget on target for November.

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