BUTLER, Mo. – With a little planning, you can gobble ’til you wobble this Thanksgiving without breaking your budget.
When planning your menu, shop your own cupboard and refrigerator first, says Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension. And by sticking to a traditional Thanksgiving menu of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, you’ll save money.
Don’t overbuy. The most expensive food you buy is what you throw away. Roberts says you should buy 1 pound of turkey for each guest if you want leftovers or 3/4 pound if you don’t. Leftovers provide quick, inexpensive meals in the days that follow Thanksgiving, but remember to practice food safety: Refrigerate food as soon as the meal is over and reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees.
Most guests will be happy to bring a side dish. This cuts the expense and work for the dinner host. Even guests who can’t cook can bring a side dish from the deli or bakery.
There are times when store-bought items are cheaper than homemade, and sometimes cheaper frozen or canned vegetables may be a better choice if fresh produce appears to have been sitting on the shelf too long. Holiday meals are a good time to consider their use. But Roberts says fresh produce used with USDA’s MyPlate guidelines remain the best option.
Another money-saving tip is to shop the outer perimeter of the store. In the outer aisles, you can purchase turkey, salad fixings, cranberries, fresh broccoli, dinner rolls and milk. You’ll find items with less sodium, fat and calories on the outer aisles as well.
Roberts also suggests buying an additional turkey to freeze if the store is offering special holiday prices. It’s not uncommon to find turkey on sale for 99 cents per pound, she said. “That is one of the least expensive main course foods you can find. And turkey can taste pretty good in February too.”