Thanksgiving dinner can be a very expensive meal to plan. Especially, if you are hosting the family get together. There are ways to save money this Thanksgiving. Here are 3 basic tips to saving money and eating healthier. Most require minor changes to your meal plan. All make it easier on the cook.
Most Thanksgiving dinner tables are packed with once a year favorites. One way to spend less is to cook less. If you are hosting the family get together, make it a pot luck. You provide the main star, the turkey or ham, 3 side dishes and one dessert. Have the other members of your family to RSVP what they will be bringing. We have done this for years on my fathers side of the family. We look forward to the fried Turkey my uncle brings. We fight over who gets the last of the chicken and dumplings. The kids make themselves sick with too much of my cousins banana pudding. With everyone chipping in, the cost is not too much for anyone. It turns the meal into a real celebration, one person is not stuck in the kitchen all day cooking.
This concept can also work for those with smaller gatherings. If you are cooking for just those living in your house, you can still cook less. Again, make a turkey breast or small ham, 2 vegetables, stuffing, gravy, and 1 dessert. There still will be plenty of food. There will not be the huge price tag in money or in calories. Less food will ensure you eat less as well. You will also have more time to relax, with less cooking and cleanup.
Use Fresh Ingredients, Grown Locally
Fresh, local produce tends to be cheaper than canned or frozen produce. Farmer’s markets are still open in the fall. They are full of root vegetables and squash. If you plan on using sweet potatoes buy them fresh. Fresh veggies taste better and are better for you. Did I mention they are cheaper. Buying local also provides income to local farmers. It cuts down on fossil fuel use, because the veggies didn’t travel as far to market. If you are looking for an easy way to make your life more “green”, shopping local is a great way to start.
Some areas have farmers that produce livestock and sell directly to the consumer. If you are planning on turkey, seek out local turkey farmers. Find one near you that sells to the public. Do the same if you are cooking ham. Pork producers are more common and may be easier to find.
Slim Down the Family Favorites
Slimming your waistline and the food budget go hand in hand. Sugar and fat laden processed food is pricey. Cooking from scratch allows you to control the amount of sugar and fat used. Choosing recipes or altering family favorites will also help cut the cost of Thanksgiving. Limit the use of these ingredients, or avoid them all together, corn syrup, nuts, heavy cream, marshmallows, and shortening. The price of pecans has skyrocketed over the last few years. As hard as it may be, especially here in the South, omitting pecans may be a necessary choice.
One way to limit sugar and fat is to revamp favorite recipes. If you normally make Sweet Potato Casserole, try mashed sweet potatoes. Mash hot sweet potatoes with a little milk and butter. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. They are still sweet and creamy, but they don’t have all the extra sugar and nuts. This makes it cheaper and healthier.
Small changes in the menu can make big changes for your budget. Take a look at your Thanksgiving menu and see what changes can be made. Follow these three easy tips to help lower the cost of the holiday meal. Remember these changes will also help your waistline.