Frugal Thanksgiving Tips for Saving Money

by Dual Income No Kids on November 26, 2008 · 0 comments


Like many Americans, I’ve waited for the last day to shop for Thanksgiving. Before I head out the store, I wanted to research and plan my menu for the day. I had thought that with the current economic situation I would find a lot of great resources to learn tips myself and pass them on to you. In the end I would say that most sites didn’t have many real tips. So I ended up coming up with my own tips to pass on. I did find some good content over at beingfrugal.net
Otherwise here are my basic tips for those other last minuters.

Less side dishes. Save money and reduce your stress by limiting the number of side dishes. Everyone wants the mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, and cranberries, but you can likely skip things like fresh salads and additional sides without anyone going hungry.

Frozen and canned items. Know what things you can buy frozen. For instance spinach and peas are items that work well frozen. Canned pumpkin is well worth the price. I can’t do canned cranberries.

Cranberries. Okay, so this one isn’t frugal at all, but it will make you love cranberry sauce more than ever before. Here is my basic recipe for cranberry sauce. Start with a bag of fresh cranberries, throw in a can of pineapple (with juice), a can of tangerines (with juice) and cook it down. The juices help to add flavor texture, and keeps you from having to add lots of sugar. Add a bit of cinnamon and a clove or two if you have them. You can sweeten to taste with honey or sugar and then top it with the whip cream (see below) to cut the edge of sourness.

Gravy. Make your own, it is easy and you will love it so much more. We aren’t doing a turkey this year, as it is just the two of us, but otherwise I would make my own. If you haven’t done this, it is easy. There are more complex recipes out there, but it’s best to keep it simple. All you do is take the turkey drippings into a small sauce pan, heat this up, and then mix in a bit of flour and season to taste (i.e. pepper if you like it, but it will already have plenty of flavor naturally).

Stuffing. I’m not a stuffing fanatic, but certainly make your own rather than buying it. To make a thrifty turkey stuffing, fill a bag with bread bits (use any older bread or heels and whatever as well) and beat the bag with a rolling pin until it looks like stuffing. Place in a large bowl. Saute onions, celery and season with sage, parsley, salt and pepper. Moisten with chicken broth or water and put it in the turkey. Super easy and cheap, you can’t get more filling than bread and celery.

Pies. If you want to save some money but don’t want to deal with making a whole pie, consider buying a pie crust and then making the filling.

Whip cream. I always make my own whip cream, as pumpkin and pecan pie just isn’t the same with out it. If you haven’t done it before, all you need to do is put in a bit of sugar (to taste), a bit of vanilla, and start whipping. You don’t even need a mixer. I’ve done it plenty of times with just a fork, though it is easier to make a small batch when doing it by hand.

Potluck. As the big day is tomorrow, this won’t work, but there is no shame in asking guests to bring their favorite dish and plan the meal jointly. Particularly since this often involves family. This will save you money and time. Best of all, it makes it a group contribution as it should be.

Remember to take time for games in between cooking, and making other fun Thanksgiving traditions.

Miel

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