Sharing a meal and thoughts of gratitude with family and friends will never be priceless, but the cost of putting Thanksgiving dinner on the table has gone up — a lot.
Thanksgiving-related groceries will cost 13.5% more this year than last, according to research from data analytics firm IRI. Despite the higher price tag, more than three-quarters of Americans say they are planning a celebration similar in size to those they had before COVID-19 curtailed many large family gatherings.
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner but worried about the cost, follow these do’s and don’ts to keep your budget in check.
Do: Start early
Starting your Thanksgiving shopping early not only gives you some time to spread the financial blow, but it also allows you to shop around to see which stores have the best prices. You can compare flyers using the Flipp app to see which products are on sale each week. If you see a good price on the non-perishables you’ll need, stock up.
It may also be a good idea to broaden your search beyond supermarkets. “Go to dollar stores, go to drug chains, go to grocery stores,” says Phil Lempert, founder of SupermarketGuru.com. “All of these stores offer products that are cheaper than in grocery stores.”
Don’t: Pay too much for table decor
Paper products and decorations can significantly increase the cost of the meal. “A lot of people, when they think of Thanksgiving, only focus on edible costs, but they don’t consider inedible things like napkins, paper plates if you’re doing disposable, aluminum foil – all of that costs more this year,” says food writer Marisel Salazar.
Stretch that part of your budget by buying party supplies at the dollar store and decorating with children’s artwork or seasonal outdoor items like pinecones or leaves.
Do: Skip the Giant Turkey
For many families, the turkey is one of the most expensive items on the table, and prices have been pushed even higher as avian flu has depressed supply on top of inflationary pressures from transport and food costs. workforce. A simple way to lessen the impact of this increase is to purchase a smaller bird and let guests gorge themselves on appetizers and side dishes.
“It sounds wild when it comes to Thanksgiving, but meat doesn’t have to be the center of the table,” says Leanne Brown, author of “Good Enough: A Cookbook.”
Don’t: Do it all yourself
Even if you don’t want to do a full potluck, consider asking some of your guests to bring food or drinks. “There’s nothing wrong with asking a guest to bring their favorite side dish,” says budgeting expert and former US News contributor Andrea Woroch. “Now more than ever, with inflation hitting everyone, it’s OK to do it. People like to contribute and share their family recipes.
Not only will this cut down on your Thanksgiving dinner costs, but it will also make meal prep and cleanup easier, leaving you more time to enjoy the day with your guests.
Do: Get creative with cocktails
Alcohol is another major factor in the cost of holiday meals. Stretch your booze a bit more by whipping up a punch or other creative cocktails that may require less alcohol per drink. You can also ask your guests to bring drinks to share.
Don’t: Ignore frozen aisles
Frozen products are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, so they often have higher nutritional content than non-frozen products. Frozen items are also much cheaper and are great for Thanksgiving staples like casseroles or stuffing.
Do: Get creative with leftovers
Use an app like Dinner Spinner or Side Chef to come up with recipes using the items you have on hand, including leftovers or unused ingredients.
“I love looking at Pinterest for recipe scraps,” says financial adviser Jessica Weaver, author of “Strong Women Stronger Assets.” “You can donate the leftovers or put them in the freezer for your own family. I’m a busy mom with two kids, so we love a nice frozen dinner once a week.
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