An Affordable Thanksgiving

David Sung | November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving is one of American’s favorite holidays. There’s nothing like gathering with family, stuffing your belly with delicious food, and watching the football game as your family takes their traditional post-feast naps. A major part of Thanksgiving is the Thanksgiving feast, which can end up costing you a pretty penny. Follow these simple tips and steps to lower the cost of your Thanksgiving and make the food even tastier. 

Take a Headcount

The first step to planning any Thanksgiving meal is to find out how many people you will be cooking for. Get a headcount of your Thanksgiving guests, and ask if they will be bringing any guests of their own. Once you have your guest list finalized, you can begin planning your Thanksgiving feast. Remember, it’s always best to cook enough food to feed at least four more people than will be in attendance. That way you will be prepared for any last-minute guests and possibly have enough for seconds and leftovers, which are a staple for the day after Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving calculator from is a great tool for determining exactly how much food and ingredients you will need to purchase to feed all of your guests. Simply download the spreadsheet and input the number of guests you will be serving during your Thanksgiving meal and the number of people who will be eating leftovers. The calculator will show you the ingredients and quantity needed to cook the traditional Thanksgiving dishes found in the calculator, eliminating any guesswork and wasted food.

Potluck: “What can I bring?”

Whether or not you want your Thanksgiving meal to be a potluck, your guests will most likely volunteer to bring a dish. If your guests do offer to bring a dish, take advantage.  Ask them what dish they would like to bring and keep a running tab on it. It is best to keep a list of guests and what dishes your guests will bring. A list will help you plan the rest of your meal and help to avoid a dinner where everyone provides a similar dish.

Once you know what dishes your guests are bringing, it is time to plan the rest of your Thanksgiving feast. Start by making a list of the dishes you will be making and the ingredients that go into each dish. This Thanksgiving planning calendar will help you create a timeline for what items need to be purchased and prepared on the days leading up to your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Coupons

As soon as you know what ingredients you will need to cook your feast, start searching for coupons and deals on those items from your local grocery stores. Take some time to look through the copious coupons you receive in the mail leading up to the holidays. There are also some great online resources that can be paired with your in-store coupons, saving you even more. Simply search the Internet for Thanksgiving coupons.

Turkey Promotions

At full price, turkeys can often be one of the most expensive food items on a Thanksgiving menu. So, finding a great deal on a turkey can really help you reduce the cost of your Thanksgiving meal. They are many different kinds of turkeys, and if you are unsure which kind to buy, this turkey quiz will help you narrow down your options.  If you’re looking to buy a cheap turkey at full price, a frozen Turkey will be your cheapest option at about $1-$2 per pound.

Buying a large turkey is the most economical because you will get more meat per pound and be able to use the leftover turkey to cook additional meals following the holiday. Many grocery stores hold promotional deals on turkeys around the holidays leading up to Thanksgiving, while some grocery stores even offer a free turkey to reward customers for spending a certain amount in their stores. If you find a grocery store with a free or discounted turkey promotion, start narrowing down your coupon search to that particular store. That way you can save money on many of your ingredients and save money on the centerpiece bird.

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