11/9/2011 1:00 PM ET|
Thanksgiving feasts on the cheap
Let someone else cook. This isn't really a cheap option, but it can save you time and effort, which is worth something. Costco has a dinner-in-a-box it says will feed eight people for $150. Local grocery stores and restaurants may have similar deals for less. Or you can simply go out to eat at a restaurant. You don't even have to eat turkey; you can emulate that scene in "A Christmas Story" where the family winds up at the Chinese joint.
Host a brunch. As cheap as turkey can be, eggs and pancakes are even cheaper. Hosting a day-of or day-after brunch allows you to spend time with friends and loved ones without going into hock. You can go alcohol-free or serve mimosas with domestic sparkling wine instead of more-expensive Champagne.
Plan carefully. Still have the urge to host that picture-perfect, Norman Rockwell feast? The good news is that Thanksgiving is one of the cheaper holidays to host, if you plan ahead and make smart choices.
"Thanksgiving should not be an expensive holiday," wrote Sarah Nelson Miller of Beaverton, Ore. "Turkey is less than a dollar a pound. Potatoes are super cheap. A can of pumpkin is maybe $1.50. A bag of cranberries another $1.50. Flour, butter, sugar . . . all can be gotten for very little. People who break the bank cooking for this holiday are just trying to justify the acres of granite and stainless steel appliances they bought for their kitchens."
Or maybe they're just inexperienced, as I was. The first thing you need to do is ditch the pretensions. No heritage birds or organic sausage stuffing -- the thrifty stick to the basics, including frozen birds that can be had for $5 or less. Brine them overnight, and no one will be the wiser.
Allison Burnell of Reston, Va., wrote that she buys her staples weeks in advance on sale.
"You have to be prepared, know what you need, and then look for it -- I keep a list in my purse," Burnell wrote. "I also have a good Dollar Store with decent food items in it that I can stock up on for the big day -- canned french cut green beans for the green bean casserole, $1 bread to toast for the stuffing, even fancy little jars of olives, pickles and the like. I'm a bargain hunter year-round, so it comes easily."
Whatever else you need, consider borrowing or buying secondhand. Goodwill is a good place to buy roasting pans and other kitchen items you might need, my buddy Marla Jo Fisher noted. And keep your eyes peeled for sales after Thanksgiving that might make hosting cheaper next year.
"I bought my turkey roasting pan at last year's after-Thanksgiving sale marked down from $20 to $3," Fisher wrote.
Now that's a deal to be thankful for.
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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The message here; If you want to have an inexpensive Thanksgiving meal either plan to spend less or attend the dinner of a friend or family member...Duh!
Had a bad day at work and I might be taking it out on this poor columnist but I am tired of the useless holiday hints from writers that tell people to save money by spending less or save time by, uh...saving time. This article really provides no helpful information. All of the suggestions offered would likely be considered by anyone with even a shred of common sense.
I'm in my mid-50s, and grew tired of having to get all dressed up & venture out to visit relatives decades ago......BUT....I gotta' have my Thanksgiving meal.....I used to buy a small turkey, but found it to be too much hassle to go thru....cutting the remaining meat from the carcass, to save for leftovers, etc. So I have what I refer to as "Thanksgiving for ONE". And it's so quick & simple, I cook this for many special occassions: Christmas, Oscar Night....MY Birthday...Here's how it's done: Get yourself a pack of boneless chicken breasts WITH the skin on them. I coat them in a mix( I prefer...I THINK it's Betty Crocker...called Oven-Fry Coating Mix )...Takes about 50 minutes to cook in the oven. Meanwhile, I prepare a box of Stove-Top Stuffing mix....( chicken or turkey..) It's all in the box...Just add some butter & water. Get it goin' & finish it off by putting in a small roasting pan & tossing it into the oven for about the last 20 minutes that your chicken is cooking. Also add in a can of the best store-bought CANDIED sweet potatoes you can find. They should already have all the sugar & syrup on them...You DON'T need to add anything. So everything's in the oven.....During about the last 10 minutes, you open up a couple of cans of inexpensive turkey gravy......put it in the little pot...and stand there and stir it on top of the stove. The entire meal can be done for around $15........Best of all, if you clean up as you go, there's very little dishes left in the sink afterwards. Oh yeah...You get to stay home in your comfy bathrobe undisturbed......Try it once...if not for Thanksgiving....any other time you want to get a little taste of it during the year. Quick & simple.
My husband and always go out to eat on thanksgiving. Fairly cheap. Easy. No mess. Of course, we live three thousand miles away from our nearest relative .
Thanksgiving is about family, friends and remembrances of good times. Potluck is not about being cheap or lazy. Potluck is about "giving". People enjoy Potluck Thanksgivings or brunches or any potluck meal because everybody gets to feel they are a part of of the group and not a bystander. My experience is that people try to put their best foot forward when they bring a dish to a potluck. I have received some of my best recipes and made new friends in the bargain at Potlucks.
And btw, many supermarkets give away a free turkey if you buy $100 of groceries. I make a grocery list and don't go to the store until I think my list amounts to a $100.. The side benefit is that by not going to the store every week I'm less likely to make impulse purchases of unnecessary things, and that's a big savings.
We go the Cracker Barrel for Thanksgivng meal. It's pretty cheap and no cooking or cleaning up.
Their Thanksgiving dinner even comes with Pumpkin Pie. A very good value.
THANKSGIVING..IS ALL ABOUT FAMILY...I LIVE 1500 MILES AWAY FROM MY KIDS,NEVER FAILS WE ALWAYS TALK TO EACH OTHER, TURKEY ETC, IS NOT EVEN ON MY MIND AS LONG AS I TALK TO MY KIDS, TO ME, THAT IS ALL I NEED. AS FAR AS ME COOKING , I DON'T TOO MUCH WORK, COST TOO MUCH TO MAKE THE DINNER, WHAT REALLY GETS TO ME IS HOW MUCH OF THAT DINNER U WERE SO THANKFUL FOR REACHES THE TRASH CAN.FOR ME WE WOULD EAT THE LEFTOVERS FOR A FEW DAYS AFTER, WHAT WAS LEFT NO ONE REALLY WANTED ANYMORE, SO TRASH CAN HERE YA GO, AT LEAST 30% WENT INTO THE TRASH.GOING OUT TO EAT IS CHEAPER, AND EASIER, IN MY EYES THANKSGIVING IS NOT JUST ABOUT FOOD. THANKSGIVING IS FOR FAMILIES TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER, NT TO PUT THAT SPREAD ON TO IMPRESS.
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