How to Plan a (Relatively) Cheap Thanksgiving

Grocery prices are the same as in 2022, I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving shopping. I recently noticed that my much-needed 12 Diet Coke, which I buy at least twice a week, is costing me about $8 ($3 or $4 more than last year), causing my habit Drinking Coca-Cola becomes much more difficult. Thus, I began to suspect that my vacation budget would soon face the same reckoning.

Turns out my fears were justified! Thanksgiving dinner this year will probably cost you more than last year. According to TODAY.com , many of the ingredients needed to make a classic turkey dinner have gone up in price (including the bird itself):

The leaders of food price growth over the past 12 months: margarine, up 44%; flour and ready-made flour mixtures – 24.2% more; frozen and chilled bakery products such as pies, pies and pies rose by 20.4%.

While the combined category of meat, poultry, fish and eggs is up 9% compared to September 2021, egg prices themselves are up 31% year-on-year.

…Prices of raw turkey rose by 17%, and processed fruit and vegetables – by 16%.

I don’t have the authority to cut food prices, but I have some tips for cutting costs if, like me, you don’t have an endless income to spend lavishly on your holiday feast.

Don’t bother with fancy turkey (or skip it altogether)

I cooked and ate cheap butter balls, turkeys, which are even cheaper than butter balls, and expensive traditional birds, and for the most part I thought they all tasted like turkey. In all the years I’ve cooked and eaten turkey, I’ve found that how you cook your turkey is more important than where you buy it (although I won’t blame anyone for shelling out extra money for humanely reared bird if they can afford it). It). This buttermilk brine and this smoking method can help you get juicy birds with well toasted skin and no fancy ingredients (or traditional birds).

You can also ditch poultry altogether and take a more flexible approach by purchasing any roast or large-form meats sold at your local grocery store. The freezer is your friend here: you can buy a discounted roast now and then put it on ice until the big day.

Be ruthless with your menu

Think back to last Thanksgiving and be extremely honest with yourself. What did they eat? What was ignored? Was the savory bun bread pudding you made really that much of an improvement over the simple stove top stuffing? Do you really need a snack? Has anyone eaten your salad? Answer these questions with unwavering honesty and you’ll find what needs to be cut.

Stretch your budget for booze

Thanksgiving is a holiday, and on holidays people like to drink. It’s easy to get lost in Trader Joe’s wine section looking for a match for every taste, but my cheapest wine hack is to offer one type of wine: an absurdly cost-effective but incredibly drinkable six-dollar wine. Blanc de Blanc. To quote myself : “It’s from ‘Somewhere in France’, incredibly dry and way better than it has a right to be at this price point.” (Other, more expensive champagnes work too, but providing one type of wine can keep costs down.)

Another move you could play is to hit big, like this last-minute variation I came up with five years ago. Grapefruit and elderberry may not sound particularly autumnal, but this drink has incredible cleansing properties, which is a big plus when you’re serving up the saltiest, fattest meal of the year.

The most effective cost-cutting measure is to simply make dinner a BYOB affair. If you’re cooking a turkey or most of your food, it’s perfectly fair to entrust the drink to someone who can’t cook. Anyone over the age of 21 can contribute in this way, making them the perfect choice for a bachelor, nephew, or adult college student with the question “What can I bring?”

Shop Early

As I mentioned last week , purchasing shelf-stable foods now, especially when you see them on sale, helps spread your costs and avoid supply chain crises should they arise.

Take good care of your serving utensils

If I said it once , I said it at least thrice, but Goodwill and other thrift stores are the best and cheapest places to buy plates, jugs, tureens, punch bowls, serving spoons, cutlery and any other random items . necessary serving items. You can also find good deals at the restaurant supply store, but Goodwill most likely has prettier items.

Don’t be a hero

I struggle with the urge to cook all Thanksgiving meals myself and tend to be very territorial about certain dishes (turkey, mashed potatoes , gravy , corn casserole ). If there was a year to let go, it’s 2022. Let people bring things. Turn the whole thing into a dinner if you can. You will not only distribute expenses, but also free up some of your time and relieve stress. Thanksgiving should be an enjoyable day spent with family and friends. Being under stress is not so pleasant.

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