Thanksgiving – Your Plan Ahead Guide

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on November 4, 2009

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the whole year.  I love every part of it…

  • the colors of the trees outside
  • the piles of leaves in the street that await the leaf sucker-upper
  • the rock bottom prices in the grocery stores
  • the insane number of coupons that are released during November
  • the fantastic Thanksgiving deals that can be found matching up coupons with sale prices 
  • the many fragrances that fill the house as the oven roasts the turkey and bakes the pies

Ahhh.

It will be a bit different for us this year.  With a very small newborn, I couldn’t imagine preparing the whole feast, as I’ve done in years past!  So we’ll be feasting with family.  And if I can manage to whip up a side dish, I will!

I wanted to share a few reminders on how to reduce the overall cost of your Thanksgiving meal.

1. Plan. Rework the plan. Finalize the plan.

Make a plan.  Dig through those recipe cards, browse the magazines.  Make your plan. But only pencil it in!

Then rework your plan as time gets closer and you see things on sale, or another recipe you’d like to experiment with.

On Sunday before Thanksgiving, finalize the plan and get to work!  By then, you’ll have seen all the products that are on sale, what the lowest prices are and you’ll be able to carve the plan into stone.

2. Prices.

From my experience in years past, the LOWEST prices on all the Thanksgiving favorites…like green beans, sweet potatoes, pecans and walnuts, cranberry sauces, etc…are found during Thanksgiving week.  And possibly the week before.

It’s a tricky game to play, but if you have a plan and you see something on your list for 60-75% less than regular retail price the week before Thanksgiving, go ahead and get it.  Or wait and hope it’s still on sale for Thanksgiving week.  But if you wait, it might not be on sale the next week.  Trust your instincts.

3. Coupons. Coupons. Coupons.

Over the next few weeks, there will be an insane number of coupons released both online and in the newspapers.  Many of which are for the most popular products used during the Thanksgiving meal.

Clip them. Use them. Match them with the products on sale!

4. Turkey Prices.

Watch those circulars.  I already see whole turkeys advertised in my store for $1.49/lb.  But I know it will be half that price come Turkey Day! 

Shop around.  Pay close attention to all the store’s prices in your area.

How big of a turkey should I get?  Rule of thumb: 1 lb. per person attending your feast. Depending on how much meat you need/want for leftovers!

And don’t forget…this is a great time to get an extra turkey, perhaps a smaller turkey breast, that you can cook up in the slow cooker and use the meat for multiple meals.  Prices won’t be this low until Thanksgiving 2010!

Enjoy your feast!  And revel in the fact that you spent as little as you could on your Turkey Day Feast!!!

What other tips do you have to share for saving $$$ on the Thanksgiving meal???

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom November 4, 2009 at 9:39 am

Great tips, you hit on the ones I use most to save money. If your budget is especially tight, don’t hesitate to ask your guests to bring a little something, generally everyone is happy to help and that spreads the investment.

I saw turkeys this week at Cub for $0.68/lb by the way! We bought 2…

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Val November 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

Thanks for the tips! Usually we just go the day or so before and get everything we need, horribly overspending. We just need to plan ahead and watch for opportunities. Cool!

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Jennifer November 4, 2009 at 10:05 am

I always buy a bigger turkey than we will need so I can freeze the cooked meat. I just pull it out of the freezer when I need it for a recipe. It saves me money because I bought it at a great price and time because it is already cooked.

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Miriam November 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

I shop all fall (the Thanksgiving/Christmas sales) for the ingredients for my family’s New Year’s Day “Christmas”. Last year we finally went to instant potatoes and Stove Top (we decided we’d rather visit than spend hours peeling and tending pots and pans of those items!), both things I was able to get for rock bottom prices, so buying enough for 25/30 people really didn’t cost very much.

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Charissa Cowart November 4, 2009 at 10:56 am

Great tips Erin!!

Steph I was thinking the same thing!! Along the same line, if you have a lot of family coming over for your Thanksgiving dinner, and any of them ask if they can bring something, have a list of food items ready that you can throw out there and let them pick something to bring to help you out :)

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Jean November 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

We are “allowed” (by my dad) to go off the traditional menu for Christmas if we have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. SO, we already know what we need to have on the menu, which will help when watching the sales over the next few weeks. And everyone is contributing something to the dinner so no one person is saddled with the expense of feeding the whole crew. Makes it much easier on me timewise and budgetwise since I have to get the house ready for dinner & overnight guests – and feed those overnight guests more than one meal.

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elizabeth November 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

I know that my family has always taken advantage of supermarkets offering free turkeys during Thanksgiving and Christmas via the “spend X amount by this date” loyalty card method to get an extra one to have on hand either for Christmas or another dinner.

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Michelle Schahn November 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

Add in something fun and meaningful (and free). Cut out leaves and have everyone write something they are thankful for. Put them in a basket and have each person pick one and try to guess who wrote it. Or make it a small ceremony and have each person share theirs.

Cover the kids’ table with paper (we like to use old plans from construction jobs, but use what you have) and set out crayons and stickers for the kids to have fun while the adults enjoy a (what?!) peaceful few minutes after the meal.

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Stephanie November 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

This is the time of year that I usually stock up on all my baking goods because the deals are tremendous. And I always buy a turkey or two after Thanksgiving for super cheap!

For our Thanksgiving meal, we always have it potluck style. Much easier on the hostess and her budget!

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Jenn November 4, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I don’t know where you live, but at my local Walmart right now turkeys are on sale for only 88 cents a pound!! Start checking for sales now, before the big rush starts.

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Clara November 4, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Thanksgiving is always a shared feast in both my husband’s and my family. The host usually does the turkey and stuffing and everything else is usually parcelled out. We both come from big families so just a little from everyone goes a long way on the table.

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Aimee November 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Bought a turkey today at my Wal-mart for 40 cents a pound! Everyone was grabbing them, they didnt last long and were a limit of 2.

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Erika November 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm

This will only be my second time cooking thanksgiving so I was curious what everyone felt was a good deal per lb on a turkey? Last time I didn’t buy it just cooked it :) Thanks so much! I love your blog I’m using your method for making a whole chicken for the freezer right now!!

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Susie's Homemade November 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Those are GREAT tips:-)

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Jennifer November 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Great tips!

BTW, my local Walmart has turkey’s for only 40 cents a pound! I bought 2 yesterday and one today! I’ll be making one of these for my daughter’s first grade Thanksgiving feast. :)

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Sarah November 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Great tips, but I read before that you aren’t suppose to cook turkeys in the crock-pot because the internal temperature doesn’t get hot enough quick enough to zap bacteria. I’m sure this depends on the size of the turkey, but I just thought I’d bring it up.

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Heather Richardson November 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

right now we have frozen turkeys on sale for .47/lb and .89/lb. need to call my mil to put one in her freezer!

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