There’s no way to get around it: Thanksgiving will be more expensive this year.
In fact, the rising cost of food will make the traditional holiday meal about 13 per cent pricier than last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The trade group estimates turkey will be the cost-jacking culprit, with a 16-pound bird adding an extra $4 to the meal ticket.
To save cash and still enjoy your get-together, we’ve compiled a list of cost-cutting tips:
Stick to produce that’s in season. Go for brussel sprouts, but stay away from artichokes and asparagus. Also think about buying fresh herbs in bulk at a farmer’s market rather than a smaller, dried amount at the grocery store. It will be half the price.
Buy a smaller supermarket bird early. There’s nothing wrong with getting a smaller sized bird and supplementing the meal with side dishes and hors d’oeuvres. Go for a grocery store turkey, which will cost about $2 a pound, rather than a Heritage Foods USDA bird, which will be more like $10 a pound.
For an even better deal, visit your grocer early with coupons in hand and store the meat in your freezer a while. If you’re worried about flavour, brine the turkey 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator before cooking and add some kosher salt.
Cook from scratch. This will save you up to 40 per cent on groceries. A fancy bakery pie could be as pricey as $60, but the homemade version will be more around $12. Also consider serving canned pumpkin and frozen vegetables (especially those out of season). It’ll make things fast, easy and cheap.
Change up the recipe. You can’t substitute salt or pepper, but there’s no rule saying you’ve got to use all the herbs called for in a stuffing or soup recipe. You can substitute water for canned stock in a soup and butter instead of shortening for pie crust, for example. Just make sure you have a set plan when you go shopping: Know what you’ll replace with what and refuse to veer from the list.
Buy booze in bulk. Make a run to a bulk retailer like Costco. The store might not have exactly what you want, but the price will be 30 per cent cheaper. You can also ask guests to BYOB, and if you’re going real cheap, add some fruit and soda water to your wine. It will make the juice last longer and mask the taste if it’s not so hot. Think of it as Thanksgiving sangria.
Host a potluck. Don’t be embarrassed—your friends and family will be more than happy to help. Besides having them bring spirits and cocktails, you can also ask them to bring deserts or side dishes. Not only is it cheaper, it’s much less work for you.
For decorations, head outside and visit the dollar store. Bring back some pretty fall leaves and dried up pine cones to make a pretty centrepiece. You can also grab pine leaves and fill a jar to give the room a nice scent. Next go to the dollar store and buy some fall coloured-ribbon and candles to add to the mix. The whole affair shouldn’t cost more than a couple bucks and will allow you to be creative.
Use real plates and silverware. This will obviously make the table setting much nicer, but even better, it will be cheaper. You can borrow nice silverware and dishware if you don’t have any, and while you’re at it, ask for the fancy wine glasses too. The same goes for cookware: Instead of buying new supplies, ask a neighbour or guests to let you borrow them, especially the tin-foil turkey roaster.
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