Learn 8 tips on how you can have a Frugal Thanksgiving from this guest post by Jocelyn Anne.
Just because somewhere along the line Thanksgiving became synonymous with an overabundance of food, does not mean that you can’t have a frugal Thanksgiving. In fact, I’d say there’s all kinds of fun to be had if we make an even greater attempt than normal to have a frugal Thanksgiving. I’m not saying that there’s no room to splurge (it is a holiday after all) or that you can’t have loads of leftovers (they’re my favorite part!), I am saying that along the way, and in the preparation, there are countless ways to celebrate with a frugal Thanksgiving. Here are some of my favorites:
Shop Ahead of Time
The further ahead of time that you can shop, the more likely you will be to find the best deals on everything you’ll need to pull off a fantastic thanksgiving meal. There are always plenty of “buy these, get that” or “buy X amount of dollars and get this.” If you can plan the extras into your normal menu planning in such a way that it will pay off, then those specials are easy ways to save. However, if you would have to buy $200 dollars of groceries to get a free turkey and you wouldn’t normally spend $200, then it is not going to save you money.
Make it a Potluck
There’s really no reason one person needs to be in charge of everything! Whether you’re hosting the meal yourself or you’ll be going elsewhere, suggest the idea of a potluck. That way the host is only responsible for something like the turkey (oven needed!), and everyone else brings one side each. You’ll probably find that each of you actually saves on food cost for the day.
Cut down the Sides
This is one of those “tradition” things that’s actually very unnecessary. We have been brought up to think a Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without the table being covered in sides. Many times upwards of 10 dishes find their way into a Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are that at least 3 of those aren’t going to get eaten. Take the classic side salad. We think we should make one just because, but after the “tastier” things like mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing and green bean casserole go around, we simply don’t have room for salad. We are highly unlikely to pass up on a traditional Thanksgiving side in order to eat our salad!
Be Coupon Savvy
If you aren’t a coupon person the majority of the time, Thanksgiving is one of those times when you should really get into it and take the time to save money. This is the opportune time for stores to get you into their building, so many will offer exceptionally grand coupon deals just to get you there (knowing once they’ve got us, most likely that extreme savings won’t matter in light of what we will buy). But, if you can stick to the coupons and get in and get out, you’ll save greatly. Stores make it incredibly easy now; in fact all you have to do is go online, click those you like, and print them out. No sorting through newspapers and not even any coupon clipping!
Decorate With Nature
There’s almost no need at all to buy any decorations. You can use the beauty of nature outside and bring it in for a gorgeous, natural and festive feel. Put the kids to work crafting up fun, made-with-love decorations or go an entirely different direction with just white paper and a bunch of markers. Wrap your tables in white paper and frame plain sheets of white paper. When your company arrives, hand them each a marker and tell them to go write out things they’re thankful for. You’ll have instant, heartfelt décor.
Make & Bake
Of course, the more you can make and bake from scratch, the more frugal your entire meal will be. Even if you have never laid claim to being Rachel Ray, there’s a recipe for everything simple enough that anyone can master it! And, if you’re feeling really overwhelmed, check out YouTube. It’s loaded with videos on basic stuff like how to cook a turkey or how to whip up homemade pie crust and pumpkin pie filling from a real pumpkin.
Turn the Leftovers into Future Meals
Spread the expense of one meal out over several by using up all of the ingredients you have (not just 1 can of the 2 cans of sweet potatoes you bought on special) and make plenty for leftovers. By doing so, the cost will be going towards multiple future lunches/dinners/snacks, etc.
Prepare in Advance
Starting now, look for ways to contribute to the meal. Leftover bread? Chop it into cubes and dry it for stuffing. When you find time, make a double batch of cranberry sauce and can all but what you need so that you can enjoy it all winter long. Is there something that can be cooked and then frozen? Cook it along with your dinner one night so you can save using your oven again unnecessarily.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to have a frugal Thanksgiving. Pick the ideas that work for you and invent more that aren’t here. And, if you can, share with us here what your plans for a frugal Thanksgiving are!
About the Author
Freelancer Jocelyn Anne loves to write anything food and frugal related. She makes it a priority to make do with what she has and tries to maintain a green life. At the moment she’s promoting energy saving electric wall heaters for the winter months.