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Frugal Family: Talkin' Turkey

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Don't go to the grocery store without a plan!

Last week, Boston.com published an article that stated, “Putting a traditional turkey dinner on the table is going to be pricier this year.” The American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, DC, reported a 13% increase in the cost after comparing it to last year’s figures.

While this may sound like bad news, Thanksgiving dinner is typically less expensive than other holiday meals. The estimated $49.20 that will be spent for a ten-person, turkey-and-all-the-trimmings meal will work out to less than $5 per guest.

These are average prices. The frugal among us will endeavor to spend even less.

Here are some tips to help stretch Thanksgiving dollars, save time, and cut down on waste:

Make a List. This sounds simple, but fewer trips to the grocery store or farm stand usually mean spending less and always mean conserving time. Planning the meal out from home where there are no distractions increases your chances of remembering all the needed ingredients.

Consider adding carrots, celery and noodles or rice to your list and making turkey soup a day or two after the holiday. Pick up a loaf of crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious, low-cost meal for your family.

Calculate Desired Quantities. Is your family the type to enjoy leftovers for days to come? Or do you prefer to make just the right amount of holiday food and return to your normal routine the day after Thanksgiving? Don’t buy and cook a ten-pound bag of spuds if you won’t consume that many mashed potatoes.

Ignore Turkey Prices When Choosing a Grocer.  Every grocery store has low per-pound turkey prices this week (starting at 49 cents per pound for frozen turkeys). Consult the flyers before shopping instead of simply going where the bird is cheap. Head instead to the store that has the ingredients for your side dishes and desserts on special.  Roche Bros,  Stop and ShopShaw’s,Hannaford's and Crosby’s post their flyers online for easy reference.

Buy ‘B’ Grade Apples for Pies. One year I found myself in charge of buying ingredients for a massive Girl Scout pie-making fundraiser. Another mom tipped me off to the fact that farm stands will often discount large bags of apples that can’t be sold on the shelves due to imperfections. These ‘B’ grade apples are generally a mixture of types, but they work well for baking. We saved a great deal using them, and the pies were delicious.

Currently, Idylwilde Farms has ½-bushel bags of these apples (approximately 20 pounds) for $3.99—a fantastic value at less than 20 cents per pound.

Peel and Chop at Home. Grocery stores offer butternut squash and other vegetables peeled and cut into easy-to-cook pieces. Many fruits are ready-to-serve as well. These "short-cut" items cost significantly more per-pound. Do the work yourself—or delegate it to the well-meaning relative who is hanging around the kitchen asking to help out.

Freeze Leftovers. If you realize you won’t use excess food before it spoils, don’t just leave it in the refrigerator and let this happen. Freeze it for a quick dinner solution on a busy future night.

Rubbermaid and Tupperware make plates and dishes with divided sections in them that are perfect for freezing future meals. They conveniently go from the freezer to the microwave.

The Patch community wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


Note: Area food pantries are currently running low on inventory. When shopping for your Thanksgiving holiday meal, if you are able, please consider buying non-perishable items to donate. Most grocery stores have boxes at the exits for depositing these much-needed foods.

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