How to save your money and sanity this Thanksgiving holiday

It’s that time of year again! The air is crisper, the leaves are falling, and the ghosts and ghouls have just wrapped up their annual candy haul. It seems the minute Halloween is over Thanksgiving is upon us. And while you may be tempted to play the proverbial ostrich and stick your head into that colorful pile of leaves, nothing will wreak havoc on your savings or your sanity like last minute shopping.

Here are some simple steps to save money and amplify your Thanksgiving joy

Start Early

Don’t wait until the weekend before Thanksgiving to start shopping. Start now! Watch for the sales, clip the coupons and take advantage of price match programs. When looking for the best deal, consider using fresh ingredients rather than canned or processed, they are often cheaper (and likely tastier). Start stockpiling your components now, so you can spend the days before Thanksgiving preparing and not shopping.

Early preparation doesn’t only pertain to shopping. In fact, much of your Thanksgiving meal can be made the day before! Just imagine meeting your guests with a smile and a drink instead of a hurried greeting while scrambling about. A simple internet search will score yields of make-ahead recipes including these delicious 30 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes from Taste of Home.

Think Abundance Not Overindulgence

While we certainly appreciate an afternoon nap with a full belly as much as the next person, often a full stomach turns into overeating for days on leftovers. The reality is, when money is tight, you simply don’t need to buy so much food. Doing these two things will help you avoid overbuying, overspending and overeating.

  1. Make Lists. Start with a guest list. Write down everyone that may be in attendance and ask them to RSVP to take the guesswork out of who will and won’t come. Once you know how many people to expect, plan two generous servings of each dish per person then make the grocery list quantities accordingly. Planning out the portions per guest will help you buy the right amount of food, without worrying about having too much or too little.
  2. Use a lunch plate. When you consider that the average dinner plate size is 12 inches, and a lunch plate is 9, it just makes sense that switching from dinner plates to lunch plates will help you maintain your budget and your waistline. Using smaller plates also allows for the emotional gratification of going back for seconds, creating the feeling of indulgence without overdoing it.
 Keep It Real and Simple

 For many people, the cost of Thanksgiving comes from unnecessary décor. Now is the time to reconsider what is necessary and cut the frivolities. Instead of buying those fancy turkey napkins, use a roll of paper towels instead. Don’t buy disposable dishes when you have a cupboard full of dishes that will do. It doesn’t matter if they are a matching set, and may even add a homey feeling if they don’t.

Using a little DIY creativity and some natural components, you can create beautiful decorations for minimal cost including these fun Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas from DIY & Crafts If you have kids, DIY crafts not only make decorating inexpensive, but it’s a great way to keep them busy and involved in the festivities.

Keep the dinner menu simple. Meat is expensive, so sticking to one meat dish (traditionally a turkey, but indeed ham, chicken or any meat will do) will help lower the cost of your entire meal. Additionally limiting the variety of side dishes you offer allows for less work, and more opportunity to focus on the quality of the side dishes you do provide. Three or four side dishes are just as satisfying and far less work than a more extensive variety of choices.

What compliments a simple menu more than simple recipes? Nothing! In fact combining those two things is a recipe for success! Think about it, the more ingredients your recipe has, the more it costs to make. Furthermore, the more it costs to make, the more likely you are to buy cheaper and sometimes inferior products. A natural remedy to this is to keep the ingredients in your dishes simple; think five ingredients or less (not including spices). Once you narrow the ingredients list, you can focus on using superior quality whole foods; including things like seasonal vegetables, mineral-packed sea salt, high-quality butter and real maple syrup. While the ingredients in your recipe shrink the quality of your recipe grows, saving you money and leading you down the road of culinary delight!

Share The Responsibility

 You may have heard the saying “Many hands make light work, ” and it’s true! Thanksgiving isn’t merely about reveling in celebration together; it’s also about sharing the work to ensure that everybody has a good time. Two easy ways to do this are …

  1. Make it a potluck. There are many ways to execute this plan, but in the end, it doesn’t matter how you do it, but only that you do. Whether you assign a dish to your guests or ask them to bring their favorite recipe, a potluck Thanksgiving will save you time, money and allow you to discover food you may not have otherwise tried. You can go as traditional or as eccentric as you would like. Ask guests to bring a particular ethnic dish or to bring a recreated 19th-century recipe! Mix it up, make it fun, after all, it’s Thanksgiving!
  2. Clean up together. When everybody pitches in, clean up is fast, and everybody gets to dessert quicker. Don’t be the host that runs around doing all the work, growing ever more anxious and exhausted. Instead, assign each guest something to do. Don’t wait for people to volunteer because often they won’t. If asking people to pitch in as the need arises makes you feel trepidation, make it a game before dinner by drawing assigned cleaning chores out of a hat. In the end, you will find that not only does the feasting create lasting memories but sharing in the work together will as well.

Here at FFEF, we believe that honoring your emotional and financial health by sharing responsibilities and celebrating within your means is the key to a fulfilling and joyful holiday season. Remember, time spent together, whether eating, crafting, or cleaning will create fulfilling experiences and memories that last a lifetime. We hope that you find these suggestions useful when gathering with loved ones this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!