It’s that time of year again: your house is about to be descended upon by family and friends looking for a big meal. It can get real costly, real quick – but there are a few easy ways to save money on Thanksgiving. And don’t forget, these tips can also help you save on the next big turkey dinner at Christmas time.
Big Bird, Big Bucks
The biggest single expense for Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey itself. While generally speaking, fresh food is usually better than frozen, but when it comes to turkeys most cooks agree that there’s nothing wrong with cooking a frozen bird.
The basic economics of supply and demand drive the cost up at holiday time; so many people want a fresh turkey at the same time that suppliers and retailers charge a premium. And if you leave it too late, you may miss out altogether.
If you’ve got space in your freezer, you can watch the flyers for sales and buy your bird weeks ahead of time. Frozen veggies are another wrongly derided option. Since they’re picked at peak freshness and flash frozen, they can often be tastier than out-of-season produce that’s shipped from across the globe.
If your freezer’s already crammed, you can still save money by buying frozen a couple days ahead of the holiday. You’ll need time sufficient time to let it defrost anyway.
Many stores cash in on the convenience factor by offering many of the traditional sides ready-made, from stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce to the pumpkin pie and whipped cream. But if you have the time and even a modicum of cooking skills you can make most of these items on your own for a lot cheaper, and without the preservatives and other additives found in most ready-made foods.
Host A Potluck
Does the thought of preparing a turkey and all the trimmings keep you up at night? Ask your guests to share the burden by hosting a potluck. Designate people to be responsible for appetizers, a couple sides, and dessert, and you can focus your attention (and budget) on the turkey and mashed potatoes.
Don’t Leave Out Leftovers
There’s nothing better than a simple turkey sandwich for lunch the day after a holiday, but you can also get creative with using the leftovers. Sites such as Canadian Living and Epicurious have a whole slew of interesting ideas. You can also save the carcass to make stock or as a base in turkey soup or stew.
Get Paid For Hosting Dinner
Here’s one way to cut costs on your holiday meal prep, and everything you buy: earn some money back with a cash back credit card on your food purchases. A great example is the Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite Card, which offers four per cent cash back on all grocery and gasoline purchases, two per cent at drug stores and for recurring payments such as gym memberships, and 1 percent on all other purchases.
While there is a $99 annual fee, you can recoup some of that cost if you have an existing credit card balance and take advantage of the six-month 0.99 percent interest rate on balance transfers. Just be sure to pay off that balance during your grace period, or any earnings scored will be wiped out by accrued interest.