Dinner with friends.

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You’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, so the good news is you don’t have to spend money to travel. The bad news? You’re ready for everything else – or at least, that’s how it feels.

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This year will be especially expensive with the rising cost of goods due to inflation. The meal will cost Americans an average of $100 to $200, and that’s without drinks or other supplies. If you have a particularly large family or one filled with demanding orders, that number becomes even higher.

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Worried about spending hundreds in a day? Here are some tips to keep costs low and morale high on Turkey Day.

Get Turkey for free

You heard me: free turkey. There are several grocery stores that run promotions where if you spend a certain amount, you can get a free turkey with your purchase. That’s a big deal considering turkeys will cost, on average, $1.79 a pound this year. This has increased from $0.99 a kilo in 2021.

Stores like BJ’s, Foodtown, ShopRite, and Weis all have specials where you can earn a free bird when you spend $150 or more. Check your nearest store to find out more details.

Buy in bulk

If a lot of people are coming, warehouses will be your best bet. Buy sides like cranberry in bulk, as well as any paper products you’ll need for entertaining to make cleanup easier.

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Only prepare what you eat

It might seem obvious, but Thanksgiving is a holiday heavily shrouded in tradition. The stuffing, cranberry and green bean casserole might all look like they should be on your table to call it Thanksgiving, but do people really eat it?

With food costing an average of 12% more than last year, there’s no point in wasting money on things no one likes to eat. Talk to your guests and ask them what they’re most excited about, then pack only what you need. What if no one mentions blueberry and you don’t like it? Feel free to take it off the table. You will save even more if you skip the traditional dishes and prepare some side dishes that are not associated with the holiday. Also, this adds some variety to your party to make it memorable.

Use what you already have

Once you’re okay with not being 100% traditional, your options for your menu open up. Check your pantry and see what you have. Can you whip something up just from the ingredients you have on hand? Search for recipes with your own ingredients and see how creative you can be. Plus, you can feel like you’ve cleaned up your kitchen a bit after the holidays are over.

Cook everything from scratch

It’s tempting to buy everything ready-made, especially if you have a lot of people coming, but try to make as much from scratch as possible. The cost of convenience will add up, while doing everything yourself gives you the ability to own it while reducing costs.

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Skip Turkey altogether

When you’ve polled guests about what they like to eat, has the turkey never or rarely come up? Your bout may therefore be a candidate for an alternative type of meat.

Opting for a roast chicken this Thanksgiving season means saving big by opting for a cheaper, less in-demand cut of meat. Of course, if you must have turkey at the table, buy only enough for those who like it. If you have a lot of vegetarians, take that into consideration when shopping for turkey. You usually only need around £1.25 per person, so don’t buy more than you need. If you have only a few meat eaters, ask if they’d be OK with becoming full vegetarians. It will save you money and can sometimes even be healthier.

Prioritize vegetables

Greens are not only healthy, but they’re convenient, especially if you freeze them. If you want to buy fresh greens, think sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beets, and carrots. These are on sale and in season during this time of year.

Do it Potluck style

This is another way to make sure food doesn’t go to waste, as most people tend to bring what they like to eat. Prepare a spreadsheet in advance where everyone can enter what they want to bring, then fill in any gaps you feel are necessary. This keeps costs down and makes guests feel like they have an active role in helping plan Thanksgiving dinner.

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