Thanksgiving brings thoughts of blessings, family, and food. It also can make you feel a little anxious about how to afford the meal and make it successful for your child with autism. Whenever a discussion turns to Thanksgiving, the subject of food inevitably pops up. Dinner is an important part of the celebration. Salivating family members will gather around your table this year with high expectations of a feast. Don’t let tight economic situations ruin your Thanksgiving dinner. There are ways to stretch your grocery dollar that will help you create a Thanksgiving meal that is not only affordable but looks extravagant.
Tips To Make Your Thanksgiving Meal Affordable
Early planning will help immensely. Plan your Thanksgiving dinner down to the very last detail. You will need to know the number of guests that will attend and what you will be serving. We serve a gluten free meal here in Autismland as we have three celiacs in the house. Learn the recommended size for each dish you are serving to determine how much you will need of each dish. Keep your menu simple and only cook as much as you need for the meal unless you have great ideas for using the leftovers. If I can find some great recipes that don’t need a ton of extra ingredients then I will make a bit extra. If not, I make just enough for that day and the next.
Start checking grocery ads
Start checking the grocery store ads a month or more before the holiday and follow them through until Thanksgiving week.. Stores will have great sales on pumpkin pies, whip cream, potatoes, cranberry sauce and other delectable holiday treats. Stock up on the goodies you want to serve while the prices are low. Most of the items that will not keep well in the cupboards can be frozen. Should you have a bit of extra money, now is the time to stock up on these items.
Watch for free deals or rebates for common Thanksgiving items
Watch your grocery stores that have club cards for offers of free turkeys. Radio stations will also have games and contests that will allow contestants to win a free turkey. There are some food pantries that will give out turkeys as well. Try to get your turkey as close to free as you can.
Ibotta has some great deals on stuff you’re going to buy anyway. They have great promotions that change every month. Thanksgiving is a great time to sign up and use it to get the $20 bonus that they offer new members. It’s a rebate site so you will pay for the items in advance then earn cash by scanning your receipts. You can get back some serious dough using it which will make your Thanksgiving meal even more affordable.
Look at the Farmer’s Market
Check your area for a farmer’s market or a flea market. Fresh vegetables are sometimes available for a fraction of the cost of the same item at the grocery store. This isn’t always the case but I like the idea of eating locally sourced foods. Some booths will have discounted prices too.
Cook everything from scratch
Cook everything from scratch. Not only will it taste better, it will be cost less. Everybody loves homemade pies and rolls. Make them ahead and freeze them until the big day. This is especially true for gluten free foods that can be exorbitant in cost. I try to make one or two recipes per week leading up to the big day.
Focus on what’s important
Remember that the turkey and dessert are the two food items your guests will remember the most. Make sure the turkey is tender and delectable and the pumpkin pie supreme and little else will be noticed! If you are comfortable letting other people bring food, then turn the rest of the meal into a potluck Ask each family to bring a specific dish while you cook the main entrée and dessert. Try to match each item to the contributor’s specialty. A potluck is a win-win situation where everyone can bring their favorite dish, enjoy the food and company while you won’t have to be exhausted. This is not an option for my family due to our dietary needs. But it may work for you and it helps cut the cost tremendously.
Break with tradition
Consider breaking with tradition and try one of these two ideas with your family. Eat at a buffet where you can eat as much as you like and only pay one price. The downside to this is that you have no left-overs and buffets are hard to find during this time of covid. The second idea is to take your family to a mission and, instead of having a huge meal yourself, serve those who are down on their luck. This is a great way to teach your child how to be thankful for what they have.
Decorate affordably too
While you are considering the costs for Thanksgiving dinner, keep your decorating costs low too. Create your own place cards. Have your children or grandchildren make place mats and other crafts to decorate the table and your home. These fun, inexpensive decorations will add a warm touch to your tasty, affordable Thanksgiving feast.
Should the Thanksgiving holiday overwhelm your budget, you still have choices. You can opt out of being the host home this year and ask the family if anyone else would be interested in hosting it. You can reduce the number of people you invite this year and buy less of everything. You could also minimize the number of dishes that you offer. Fix less fancy, expensive dishes and cook more low-cost, filling dishes like vegetables. Regardless of what you have to do to save money on the Thanksgiving dinner this year, remember to count your many blessings.