Five Tips for an Affordable Thanksgiving Dinner

The following post comes from the Military Saves Blog.  Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

November 20, 2013

Food is a necessity, and Thanksgiving is the time you feel it’s okay to go all out. However sometimes in the spirit of the holiday, we overdo it. While it may be a special occasion, don’t forget that it’s still important to save money wherever possible. Here are some tips to help you save this Thanksgiving:

  • Take advantage of military discounts at retailers. I was surprised how many retailers offer military discounts that people are not aware of. Many grocery store chains and even specialty novelty shops offer up to 30 percent discounts. If you don’t ask, you won’t know – so be sure to ask!
  • Keep the menu simple.Just because it’s a holiday, it doesn't mean that you have to break the bank. It can be special without two different meats, four vegetable dishes and three different desserts. If you plan to serve mashed potatoes and gravy, you can skip the macaroni and cheese casserole. If you plan to make candied carrots, no need to serve candied yams also. And you certainly don’t need to have fruit gelatin salad, two pies, and three cakes for dessert. If you are serving less than five people, keep it as simple as possible.
  • Make a list and stick to it.It’s so easy to go to the grocery store for five items and see chocolate chips, cake mixes and pies on sale that would be a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving table. However, remember that if you had not seen it, you would not have had a desire for it. The power of suggestion is strong, but be stronger and stick to what is on your list so you can stick to your budget.

  • Bake instead of buying. It’s much more affordable to buy a frozen turkey that you can thaw and bake rather than going with the fancy catered turkey from specialty food stores. It may take a little extra effort, but the money you save will be worth it. If you insist on getting a gourmet ham or turkey, check out the web for coupons at the retailers where you plan to buy your turkey, ham or other catered items from. Many times there will also be coupons online on their respective websites.

  • Skip the alcohol. If you normally serve wine or other alcoholic beverages on Thanksgiving, consider switching this holiday to soft drinks such as tea and sparkling cider. It will save you a ton of money and you won’t have to worry about family members that may indulge more than they should.

When it comes to holiday spending, the important thing is to stick to your regular monthly budget, with some necessary additions. We all want holidays to be special, but if you create debt in the process, it will end up being more of a headache than a holiday

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