It’s all over the headlines: The 2021 Thanksgiving holiday meal is going to be the most expensive one yet! (To avoid digression, we won’t get into ‘why,’ except to say that the Biden “administration” (a term I use loosely) is destroying our economy.) Because of delayed cargo, many store shelves are empty, although it’s not as bad yet as some analysts project it’s going to be. Food prices have skyrocketed since 2020. Many people are struggling to keep food on their table but still want to be able to gather with their loved ones and celebrate their blessings on Thanksgiving. With a few money saving tips, that may be possible!
Whether you’re entertaining a crowd of 20 or are planning a smaller gathering, it’s always helpful to peruse your pantry shelves before planning Thanksgiving dinner. Try to make use of what you have on hand and only purchase ingredients you don’t have at home. After determining what you have and what you’ll need, keep the following money saving tips in mind when you head for the store:
Money saving is easier if you write out a list first and stick to it
The Thanksgiving feast is a festive, special meal. It’s common to serve items that are not usually part of your daily dinner menu. It’s a time for family traditions and celebration. When your goal is to keep costs as low as possible, however, it’s helpful to write out a shopping list ahead of time. Try not to stray from your list, unless you get to the store and realize that you forgot to add a staple item. To create your shopping list, you first have to create your menu, including any appetizers, salads or desserts you plan to serve. Once you have a menu ready, check your home shelves for ingredients, then write out a shopping list.
You can simplify and still have a special meal
It’s nice to “go all out” once a year when we celebrate Thanksgiving. Times being what they are this year, however, it’s okay to pare down the menu. Keeping it simple will help you save money. For instance, instead of serving three different kinds of potatoes, just choose one. Same goes for pie. Your guests won’t mind if there’s only one flavor. If you know that some of your loved ones don’t like pie, add one other simple dessert, such as sugar cookies cut into pumpkin, turkey or leaf shapes. A simplified menu doesn’t have to be flavorless or boring!
Make as much as you can, homemade
This money saving tip might require you to put in a little more time and effort, but it will help keep costs lower, for sure. Consider dinner rolls, for instance. Especially if you already have flour, eggs and staple baking ingredients on hand, it’s less expensive to make your own than to buy pre-packaged ones at the store. And, it’s usually healthier, too! Other things you can make yourself rather than buying already-made include pie crusts, cookies and other desserts, salad (It’s cheaper to buy a head of lettuce than to get already-torn, pre-packaged stuff.)
If you have produce on hand from a summer garden, you can cut costs even further by using homegrown veggies for your casseroles or garden potatoes, onions, etc. This might be an incentive to start a garden next year, if you don’t already have one!
Choose generic options for more money saving help
The most expensive food items in the store are always those that are name brands. Your Thanksgiving feast won’t be as expensive this year if you opt for a few generic brands instead. You can add spices and work your magic at home to help improve flavor, if that’s what keeps you from buying generic. Whether it’s the turkey, frozen vegetables or paper products and other supplies, if funds are limited, you might find it more feasible to buy generic brands. Here’s a good article that provides a list of store brand items that are usually just as good in quality and flavor as name brands.
Nix the alcohol, and keep the cash in your pocket
You’ve probably noticed, when you go out to eat, that alcoholic beverages can really run up the tab! This is also true for your holiday menu expenses. It’s nice to spike an eggnog or cider and to offer a selection of beers, wines or other alcoholic drinks. When you need to pinch pennies, though, it’s best to leave the alcohol on the store shelf. If you really want to have some with your Thanksgiving feast, perhaps, opt for one option only — again, keeping things simple, which equates to less expensive.
Enjoy the holidays
Making merry with your family and friends during the upcoming holiday season may be just what you need after almost two years of chaos and stress. Most of us now realize that people like Anthony Fauci are not to be trusted. Therefore, if he says that he will let you know IF you can gather with family this Thanksgiving, you might want to ignore him and start writing that shopping list, instead!