Top Frugal Thanksgiving Tips

We’re at the one-week countdown to Thanksgiving. This is a family holiday, so no need to go all out and spend a fortune on your tablescape and whatnot. Keep it simple and it should be pretty frugal, too. Here are my top 10 tips for a frugal Thanksgiving.

Use Your Coupons Wisely
Next week is the big week for food shopping. Most grocery store circulars come out today, so check them for super deals. If you see a great deal and can combine it with coupons, consider buying enough non-perishables to get you through Christmas and beyond. Last year I had a great canned pumpkin deal, and discovered that the can would keep until this Thanksgiving, so I stocked up. Check out these money-saving tips from Woman’s Day to help you cut your food bill even further.

Shop Early and Often
The really super amazing deals will go fast. Consider taking a trip to your grocery store this Wednesday or Thursday to buy the non-perishables that are on sale. If you’re buying a fresh turkey and not one of the free frozen ones you get with a $25 purchase, you’ll have to go back next week for your turkey. Ask the meat department if they can put it on hold for you until Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on your brining/rubbing plans.

Visit the Farmer’s Market for Produce
The farmer’s market will be packed this week. PACKED. On the plus side, the farmer’s know this and stock extra. So, find the largest Saturday or Sunday market in your area, get up early, and bring a friend or spouse to help carry your load if you’re buying for a lot of people (especially if you’re buying potatoes or squash.)

Clear Out the Fridge and Freezer
If you’ve got lots of leftovers planned, make room in the freezer for the future contents. Obviously you’ll need to make room in the fridge for the big bird and all the sides. I planned a light menu for the days leading up to Thanksgiving so I can preserve the room in the fridge. My freezer is filling up, but it’s filling with components of my leftover dishes.

Make Your Schedule
Start planning your cooking schedule now. Figure out what you can make ahead. Also start planning your cleaning and project schedule now so everything will be done before the guests descend. Again, you don’t need to go all out, but sweep the floors and change the sheets on the guest beds.

Don’t Try Complicated New Dishes for the Main Meal
Want to get creative with your leftovers? Go for it. This is not the time to try a complicated new dessert or side. One year my sister tried a new apple pie recipe that took six hours. I still don’t comprehend how a pie can take six hours, even if you picked your own apples and milled your own flour. She contends that I don’t understand because I’m a baker and she’s not. Nevertheless, if you look at the recipe and any portion is confusing or it has many, many complex steps, skip it. Save it for a potluck where you can pick something up at the store if your dish is a total failure.

Don’t Choose Dishes with Pricey Ingredients
In the name of frugality, don’t choose recipes with expensive, out-of-season, or rare ingredients that will require you to stop at a dozen stores. Save those for a gourmet dinner party. Thanksgiving is about comfort foods. If someone asks where the mango chutney is, tell them that you’re trying to be authentic and eat seasonal items the way they did at the first Thanksgiving. (Hopefully your guests won’t know that the first Thanksgiving didn’t include pie, cranberries, or potatoes.)

Buy What You Need Before Thanksgiving
More stores are open on Thanksgiving than when I was young, but it’s still best to avoid running out to pick something up on Thanksgiving, when most of the sales will be over and you’ll be left with the last pickings.

Skip the Tablescape
Sandra Lee “fans” are shuddering with me. But basically, keep your table decorations simple. A couple mini pumpkins, a couple candles, a few fall leaves. That’s about all you need, because you’ll need lots of room for the food. Remember what this particular holiday is about – gorging ourselves until we’re too stuffed to move. What? You thought it was about giving thanks? Pshaw.

Skip Black Friday
I posted last year about my hatred of Black Friday, so my most frugal tip is to skip it. Stay home, snuggled in your bed. Even if they have amazing stupendous gobsmacking doorbuster deals, not spending money at all is still cheaper.

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