Money Matters: Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

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Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The family is all coming for Thanksgiving. You're cooking. But times are tight, and you're on a budget. So how can you make the holiday easier on your budget?

A study by the American Farm Bureau Federation found a Thanksgiving meal prepared at home for 10 people costs $4.35 per person. That's up slightly from $4.29 in 2009. Tim Parker with says there are ways to save on that turkey day dinner.

Here are his ideas:

1. Go outside for decor.
Most of your fall decorations can be found right outside your back door. Pine cones, leaves, and corn husks are free for the taking. Send your kids out to gather the stuff and make a game out of it.

2. Make a little less.
Do you really need three kinds of stuffing? People say they always eat too much, so help them out with a menu that doesn't go overboard.

3. Coupons.
Everything's on sale at Thanksgiving. Start looking now for the coupons that you'll need come meal time.

4. Leftovers.
Get creative so the family doesn't get burned out. Check recipe sites online for everything from turkey tacos to Chinese turkey salad.

5. Time it right.
Non-perishables can be bought far in advance, so take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sales for next year.

6. The bottom line.
You want to be a good host but if your family budget is very tight, consider having a potluck Thanksgiving meal. You may be surprised to find that people love to share their favorite recipe.

And what better way to spread the spirit of the season than to have everyone participate in the meal. Isn't that how it all started in the first place?

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