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10 Simple Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

10 Simple Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner keeps getting more and more expensive.  According to the American Farm Bureau Association, a meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and basic trimmings has increased about 13% for a feast for 10, costing families an average $49.20 this year.

How can you cut back on costs to account for the inflation? MainStreet asked savings experts for their best tips.

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Don’t do it all yourself.

If it’s too late to find a co-host for the event, you should consider asking your guests to each bring a signature side dish or a dessert to your party. The potluck aspect adds variety and also brings down the total cost you’ll have to contribute yourself.

“I enjoy tasting other people’s specialty recipes during Thanksgiving dinner,” says Lisa Reynolds, RedPlum’s mom saver-in-chief.

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Start shopping early.

Many items on your Thanksgiving grocery list have long expiration dates, like cranberry sauce, chicken stock and salt and pepper. Planning out your meal early will help you spread out costs over time and also increase the likelihood of finding a coupon for some of the items.

“Plan your menu around sales,” Reynolds says. “You may even want to start your shopping in your own pantry and build your menu and shopping list, in part, from what you already have on hand."

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Don’t use the swankiest cooking utensils.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive roasting pan or a set of fancy carving knives to do Thanksgiving properly. Davida Hogan, home editor at product review site ConsumerSearch, says a $20 electric carving knife can work just as well, if not better, than a set of high-end cutlery; a Pyrex plate can bake a pie just as well as an oven-to-table one; and a granite roasting pan can cook a decent turkey.

“If you’re cooking all the time, you might want to invest in [the items],” Hogan says. “But if you’re really only going to only use it once, there’s no reason to buy a $700 roasting pan.”

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Borrow platters and table settings from your friends and family.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have formal place settings or even identical tableware laid out on Thanksgiving Day. If you’re short a few plates, forks or knives, ask your family to bring some of theirs with them.

“People don’t mind lending,” Reynolds says. “Go a little more casual. It’s perfectly OK to mix it up.”

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Skip out on buying the whole bird.

Turkey was largely responsible for the jump in price of an average Thanksgiving meal, so don’t feel obligated to grab the biggest turkey at the grocery store. Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini suggests using an online meat calculator to find out exactly how many pounds you will need.

Or, “if your guests all only like white meat, just buy a breast,” Hogan says.

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Buy décor at the dollar stores.

MainStreet has reported that some of the best stuff to buy at 99-cent stores are holiday decorations, since themes don’t get outdated from year to year.

“You'd be surprised how many party fixings you can buy for just $1 apiece,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert with  CouponSherpa.com. You can also recycle décor from year to year or use pinecones and other items you can find in your own backyard to decorate your table.

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Get drinks in bulk.

If dollar stores are good for décor, than wholesale retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club are where you should go to get your booze.

“They have a great selection and offer deals of up to 30% less than grocery stores,” Woroch says.

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Or set liquor limits.

If you don’t have a membership at the local Costco or Sam’s Club, you can consider keeping spirits options low.

“Think about creating one signature drink that will appeal to all, as opposed to buying beer, wine and specific types of hard alcohol,” says Jackie Warrick, president of CouponCabin.com.

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Use pricey ingredients in more than one dish.

“One pomegranate yields enough arils to make a great side dish like asparagus with pomegranate, toasted walnuts and blue cheese and also an awesome autumn salad,” says Sarah W. Caron, who runs the food blog Sarah's Cucina Bella. She points out that the also-pricey blue cheese can be put in the salad as well.

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Freeze the leftovers.

If you do wind up with a lot of leftovers, consider freezing them until Christmas. According to Mary Clingman, an expert who answers calls on the 1-800-BUTTERBALL talk line, frozen turkey will keep for two months, while frozen stuffing with hold for about a month.

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What to Make Homemade/What to Buy

Another way to save money this Thanksgiving is by making more homemade items, like pies and other desserts. To find out what’s best to buy homemade and what’s OK to get prepackaged, check out this roundup!

Photo Credit:  Cloned Milkman

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