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Managing Costs of Your Thanksgiving Feast

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The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. 

We all look forward to preparing a great meal for friends and family, but the costs – in both time and money – can be hard to digest.  

If you are hosting this year’s feast, here are few ways to keep the financial and emotional stress to a minimum. 

Make a plan: Decide on your menu early. List all the ingredients you need and start looking for deals. When it comes to food shopping, the earlier the better. Many stores have already started their holiday season specials, so keep an eye out for coupons and discounts. Break up the turkey day shopping list and pick up a few items at a time during your regular supermarket runs. Speaking of turkey, it’s time to get your pre-orders in. Spare yourself the stress of hunting down a turkey at the last minute by reserving a frozen turkey now. If you’re feeding a crowd, don’t limit yourself to just your local grocery store. Membership warehouses like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s are great places to find deals on bulk wine, beer and other drinks, as well as produce, frozen items and desserts. 

Buy the right size turkey: According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, about 204 million pounds of turkey, worth a total of $293 million, is tossed in the trash each year. The general rule of thumb to figure out how much turkey you need is 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person. Don’t worry, you’ll still have leftovers … but maybe just 2 days’ worth instead of weeks. 

Sharing is caring: Who says you have to do all the cooking? Maybe this is the year you go potluck. As the host, you can provide the main meat dishes like turkey, ham, brisket, lamb or seafood. Then, ask your guests to each bring a side dish, dessert or a bottle of their favorite beverage (with or without alcohol) to complete the spread. But make sure you confirm what each person is bringing or you may end up with five green bean casseroles. 

Outsource the meal: Do you want to host Thanksgiving dinner but you’re not up to cooking this year? Check out mail-order meal kits. Some consider it the best of both worlds. It’s still a home cooked meal, but the menu and ingredients are all delivered right to your door. If you prefer to have someone else do all of the cooking, start scoping out local restaurants and grocery stores for Thanksgiving Day catering deals. You will likely spend more money than going the DIY route, but the savings in time and stress may be worth it.