Plan a memorable feast that’s still budget-friendly.

Turkey Dinner
Thomas J. Story

With inflation only continuing to rise, it’s no surprise that many experts have warned that celebrating the holidays could be more expensive this year. Recent reports have found that Thanksgiving turkeys are going to be scarce and pricier. According to The New York Times, the poultry industry predicts that people could be paying twice as much for a turkey this year than they did last year due to inflation and rising costs of feed, fuel, and labor, plus a strain of the avian flu that has killed at least 3.6% of the nation’s turkeys (or 7.3 million birds). In addition to turkey, you’ll most likely notice rising prices when it comes to other ingredients for side dishes and desserts, like potatoes, bread, flour, and butter. 

So what can you do to have a memorable Thanksgiving that won’t hurt your wallet (too much)? We’ve compiled a list of tips below to help you save.

1. Buy Your Turkey Now

Even though this year’s turkey will cost you more, it’s still probably your best option if you plan on serving meat on your table. A baked ham or prime rib most likely costs more than the bird. But if you buy your turkey earlier, you can save a couple of bucks. Retailers like Walmart and Aldi are cutting prices on turkey and other items right now. So clear out the freezer and cabinets and shop most of your ingredients right now. And if you’re serving a smaller group, consider doing a turkey breast (for two) or Cornish hens instead.

2. Make Things from Scratch

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Yes, making things from scratch could be more time consuming, but it’s a great savings measure. For instance, dried beans are normally cheaper than canned.

3. Load up on Heartier (but Cheap) Ingredients

Here’s a pro tip from Sunset’s editor in chief, Hugh Garvey—serve up squash dishes. It’s fairly inexpensive, the perfect seasonal choice, and very filling.

4. Ask Guests to Bring a Dish

You don’t have to tackle the whole Thanksgiving menu by yourself. Try a potluck-style feast and ask guests to bring a dish. You can assign dishes, or have your guests sign up for what they want to bring.

Walnut Bourbon Chocolate Pie

Thomas J. Story

5. Don’t Overdo It

Sure, leftovers are great and all, but let’s be real, after the day two or day three of leftover turkey, most people are sick of it. You can save money by not going overboard with the food. There’s nothing worse than having to throw away a ton of food at the end, even after accounting for leftovers.

6. Go Easy on the Booze

Alcohol can be costly, so think of ways you can be smart about serving drinks this year. Maybe just stick to wine and beer instead of doing fancy cocktails that require a ton of ingredients. Or, have guests bring something to share. Places like Costco and BevMo are always great places to save.

7. Buy Store Brands

Store brand items are usually cheaper than name brands and oftentimes taste the same or are of similar quality.

8. Compare Prices

A lot of retailers will be rolling out deals for Thanksgiving items, so check online or read the circulars that come in the mail for discounts. That might mean you’ll have to shop at multiple stores, but if it can save you a good chunk of cash, it might be worth the effort.

9. Get Creative with Decor

You don’t have to go all-out with an expensive centerpiece and table decor. Just get some flowers and greenery from Costco or Trader Joe’s and put it on display. Thanksgiving is all about the food and company anyways.

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