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Cutting costs at Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM
  • 12 Replies

How to cut costs on Thanksgiving, and are free supermarket turkeys really a value?

By Sue Gleiter | The Patriot-News

 We've enlisted coupon expert Brianna Netzel of Mechanicsburg and author of Mending the Piggy Bank to share tips on how to cut costs for the Thanksgiving meal.

At this time of year as we approach Thanksgiving, one of the big questions consumers have is whether or not those free supermarket turkey offers truly a value.

Many supermarkets give away free turkeys or hams when shoppers spend so much money in the store and collect reward points. Often, the points also can be used toward reduced price gasoline.

Netzel said it boils down to where you shop and how much you spend. She said because she shops around at a variety of stores, it's hard to accrue enough shopping points to cash in on the free turkeys.

"I guess its how you value your points and what you do. It depends on budget and shopping patterns," she said.

Now, onto Netzel's five money-saving tips for Thanksgiving:

Make it a potluck

It's what the Pilgrim's did for the first Thanksgiving. Make the turkey and ask guests to bring some of the side dishes and desserts.

"Definitely plan ahead to avoid duplicates, but you'll typically find that people want to bring the dish they're 'famous' for. You'll get a better quality dinner and everyone will have shared in the expense rather than it being all on the host family," Netzel said.

Shop seasonal sales

When shopping for food, scan the sales deals. During November and December, supermarkets typically offer deals on items centered around the holiday meal. Those items include canned soups, gravy and broth, canned vegetables, stuffing mixes, butter, nuts and frozen breads and rolls. Also, look for and stock up on baking items such as pie shells, sugar and condensed milk which typically go on sale now.

Stick to loss leaders

Grocery stores will sell items at a fraction of a loss to attract shoppers who will end up purchasing other items at full-price. So, patronize the store for the discounted items only and don't be fooled into buying all of the extras.

"Be wise to this advertising tactic and go shopping just for those items at a discount," she said. Double up on the deals by using coupons to shave off even more money from your food bill.

Decorate on the cheap

No need for fancy expensive centerpieces. Kids can make place cards, napkin holders and centerpieces. Or, if you don't have any kids, check out the dollar stores or Pinterest for inexpensive ideas, Netzel said.


"It seems crazy to think all the way out to New Year's," Netzel said. But if you think about the parties you are hosting or attending and what foods you traditionally make around the holidays, you can plan ahead to some degree.

"Overall, I would say if you want to save the most amount of money possible, I cannot emphasize the importance of planning ahead enough. Since stores are already competing for your holiday business now, take some time to plan out what you think you'll be making over the next several weeks," she said.

By doing this, you can take advantage of those supermarket loss leaders and sales cycles and spread out your shopping over several weeks. Impulse buys will only end up costing you more, she said.

by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Member on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Honestly, I save the most by not making fancy dishes. A turkey is relatively inexpensive considering the number of people eating it. Then, I make baked potatoes & regular corn & green beans & crescent rolls. A few family members volunteer to bring other dishes -- my sister brings sweet potato casserole. My dad brings pies. My brother brings drinks. My niece brings disposable plates & silverware. And we call it our Thanksgiving meal. Then we sit around play games.
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by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Great Tips 

by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

We always do it potluck style so much more fun and easier on the hostess :) 

by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

No elaborate or expensive dishes. Just yummy simple homemde foods :) 

by on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM
by Member on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM
We use paper plates so no one has to do the dishes. I also can not make my Thanksgiving a potluck. Sorry.
by Member on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

 Thanks for sharing! We never have anyone else come to our dinner, so there is really no option for a pot luck for us. We live with my mom and sister, so with them plus the 3 of us is who we have our meal with.

by Member on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

 We also make simple dishes, the most "extravagant" dishes we make are sweet potato casserole and sometimes green bean casserole. But I think everything else is fairly normal like mashed potatoes, stuffing...

by Cheryl on Nov. 8, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Thanks we always do pot luck where everyone brings what they are supposed, what the problem for me is that people don't want to help with anything so I solved that problem, I am using paper plates, pre making everything and then I will warm it all up before they get here.

by Bronze Member on Nov. 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM
We do a potluck and I try and get some of the little things when I see them on sale or I have a coupon.
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