Saving on your Thanksgiving dinner

Terry Rogers Culture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Thanksgiving meal costs are up by 20 percent this year but these tips can help you reduce costs

Grocery prices continue to rise and with Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the week, some consumers may be concerned their traditional Thanksgiving dinner may be out of reach for them. According to the American Farm Bureau, the cost of a Thanksgiving meal for ten is $64.05 this year, about 20 percent higher than last year.

“General inflation slashing the purchase power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” Roger Cryan, a chief economist for the American Farm Bureau said. “The higher retail cost for turkey at the grocery store can be attributed to a slightly smaller flock this year due to increased feed costs and lighter processing weights. Farmers are working to meet growing demands for food while facing rising prices for fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.”

There are things the average consumer can do, however, to lower the cost of a meal that brings family and friends together. One tip from Dover Federal Credit Union is to focus more on being with friends and family than the food you serve. They suggest holding a potluck where everyone brings a favorite dish or looking for lower-cost recipes that feed crowds. Before heading to the grocery store to buy your Thanksgiving dinner, shop your freezer and pantry so that you don’t purchase items you already have on hand.

Another tip is to set a budget for Thanksgiving dinner that is realistic based on your monthly income and expenses. Set a monthly grocery budget and add non-perishable items throughout the month that you need for Thanksgiving. This keeps you from having a significantly higher grocery bill the week of the holiday or risk not finding what you need for dinner. Another tip to keep below budget is to use your phone calculator and add up items as you go.

Consider using off-brand products which are often just as good as the name brands. This can save between 20 and 30 percent on some items. If you cook for a large number of people on Thanksgiving, consider a membership at a wholesale club like Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco. These stores allow you to buy in bulk, so you have less to purchase before a big holiday.

Make a list of what you need and stick to it. If you find you are an impulse buyer at the grocery store, consider shopping online and picking up items or having them delivered. Check grocery store weekly sale flyers as well to see what stores offer lower prices on the items you need. It is sometimes better to shop multiple stores for savings than stick with one for convenience.

One way to be sure you stick to your budget is to shop with cash only. Withdraw exactly what you need for your Thanksgiving dinner and use only the amount you have on hand to buy the supplies. If you may be tempted to pull out your debit or credit card if you go over, leave them at home to force yourself to stick to your set amount.

These simple tricks can help you keep your Thanksgiving dinner costs reasonable and take some of the financial pressure off as you prepare for a day celebrating with family and friends.

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