The kids and I are about to hit the grocery store for our Thanksgiving supplies. But first, I have a few tips for how you can eat well without overspending this Thanksgiving.
1. Pay attention to price tags
It’s easy to glance at price tags and only see the big numbers. But a closer look reveals the real cost of what you are buying.
Take for instance Brussels sprouts at my local grocery. They are available in the prepacked little cup or you can buy them from the bulk section. The price tag on the left (above) is the prepacked little cup. On the right, are the lose bulk Brussels sprouts.
If you buy the cup, you’re paying $7.09 a pound. If you grab a bag and select from the bin, you only pay $2.49 per pound — less than half the cost. That’s a huge savings!
The same can be found between green beans (prepackaged fresh ones versus bulk ones), lettuce (the bagged versus the heads), garlic and more. In the reverse, the loose potatoes at my grocery often cost close to twice as much per pound compared to the prebagged ones.
Yes, it’s a hectic time to be shopping, but taking the time to pay attention to the actual unit prices will pay off with big savings for you this Thanksgiving.
2. Stay in-season
In the past, Thanksgiving has always been an anything-goes holiday for me where I paid little attention to what’s in season and just made what we like. Not so this year as I am trying to put on a great meal on a budget — and the first step I took toward doing so was to eliminate dishes with out-of-season produce (sorry beets!). While we love them, there is big savings to be had by going more traditional with a harvest-based menu.
3. Tap into easy DIY
Anytime you buy something that’s a convenience — from pre-sliced French bread for crostini to pre-cut meats and cheeses, you pay a premium. But doing itself can save a bundle and doesn’t have to take long.
So buy a whole butternut squash instead of the pre-cut (hint: peel it while watching TV and then remove the sinew-y bits and seeds and dice it. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It lasts for days).
Slice your own carrots too. And also buy a head of garlic instead of pre-peeled. And if you are using shredded cheese in a dish, go big. I will be — my Decadent Cheddar Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Apples calls for quite a bit of cheese. But I won’t be reaching for the pre-shredded. Instead, I will buy a big block of cheese and shred it myself in my food processor for a big savings. And leftover shredded cheese will be perfect for reinventing Thanksgiving leftovers this weekend.
Likewise, I will save time on my prep work by chopping, slicing and shredding veggies using my food processor as well. KitchenAid recently sent me the new KitchenAid 13-cup food processor to try out, and it makes quick, accurate work of all this. It works particularly well with dishes that use onions — I can get a fine chop on them in a few seconds, lending all their flavor to my dishes without my husband (who hates the texture of onions) complaining about them. Score!
Disclosure: KitchenAid provided me with a food processor for use in my holiday coverage but I wasn’t compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.