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Ways to Save on Your Thanksgiving Table, Part II

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In my last post I covered the ways to get your decor and planning ready but did not really touch on food. In a modern day Thanksgiving, food, football, and family are the three most important factors when people think of the holiday.

Most people do not think back to the original story of Thanksgiving when two very different peoples sat down and broke bread together. While this story may not seem as interesting to us as sitting with our feet up and relaxing in front of the television, it helps me to remember this, while staying on track with our budget over the holiday. 

I have everyone pitch in to help me save time and money. I also think it helps everyone to remember the true meaning of the day by having a community meal. 

In my most recent post, "Ways to Save at Thanksgiving," I mentioned that one of my favorite tips to help spread the work is to have everyone bring a side, a dessert, or a course. 

Here are a couple more food-related tips that I use to help keep Thanksgiving manageable:

  1. I begin buying my non-perishable items early. Different Thanksgiving items go on sale at random times throughout the months ahead and often become marked up the days before Thanksgiving. I try to capitalize on the sales by stocking up on discounted tins and mixes earlier so I do not have to make a large and expensive trip to the grocery store the week before. I make my shopping list a couple of months in advance so I can buy these items when I see them advertised in circulars.
  2. Even though everyone typically thinks of turkey on Thanksgiving, consider serving chicken. Chicken when roasted can be just as delicious as turkey and is a lot less expensive. If your heart is set on turkey, look into frozen turkeys rather than fresh turkeys. I have successfully used several frozen turkeys in the past. Just remember to leave ample time to defrost it; I remember one Thanksgiving morning in college trying desperately to defrost a 22-pound bird with a hairdryer (not recommended)!
  3. In the days ahead, I try to make as many make-ahead courses as I can. Stuffing and casseroles, especially sweet potato casserole, are always good to make in advance, store overnight, and reheat when needed. Some roasted vegetables can be prepared in advance and cooked as your turkey or chicken is resting. Try roasting asparagus tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper at 375ºF for a healthy, different, and easy Thanksgiving side. I also prepare my appetizer dips in advance so when my guests arrive I am able to greet them and relax a little.
  4. I always make items from scratch to avoid the grocery store mark-ups. I use lots of websites and magazines that are full of recipes for the holidays. I list all the ingredients I need and make a timeline for the day and for a couple of days before so on Thanksgiving morning I am not rushed and unnecessarily stressed.
  5. Rather than buying cookbooks, I go to the public library, borrow books and write down recipes that interest me. It saves me money as well as much needed space in our already overcrowded bookshelves. My friends and I also hold a recipe swap after Thanksgiving to exchange the best recipes from all of our Thanksgivings. It is another reason to get together, as well!

These are the ways my husband and I try to make Thanksgiving as relaxing as possible while still remembering that special day that happened all those years ago. Leave any tips you have to make this day more special in the comment section. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Vienna Nowell

Vienna currently resides in New York City, but is originally from London. She is a contributing writer under Married & Starting Out. She and her husband are recently married and they are contemplating taking the big step of buying their first home.  Still working their way through the processes of buying an apartment, she and her husband are learning as they go.  Vienna also writes a food blog,, and is a freelance writer, chef and food stylist.  She is looking forward to sharing her experiences and any tips she picks up along the way during their house buying endeavor. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • Great tips!   As the cook in my household, Thanksgiving is typically an exhausting day - I'm always looking for ways to make the day less stressful.

  • Hi Travis, thank you so much!  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you are already getting in gear for the holidays!

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