Time To Be Thankful; Not Broke
Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year and it’s coming up right around the corner so I like to get planning in advance especially for the dinner and decorations. Thanksgiving is when I get to spend time with my family and friends eating lots of good food while celebrating what we are thankful for in our busy, everyday lives.
We celebrate the people and things that bring us happiness, the loved ones who are always there with the support we need and the beauty of the world in which we live in and all it has to offer.
Quality time spent with those who are important to us shouldn’t put a strain on our budgets nor should the process of organizing a large gathering so taking it step by step is crucial to the success of the holiday as is the participation of those you love.
The cost of hosting a large gathering can get high pretty quick but with some holiday meal planning and preparation there are ways that you can keep the costs down and still enjoy a lovely meal that will create memories for years to come.
Is there a better way to spend time with the ones you love than enjoying a nice, bountiful meal together?
I don’t know about your family, but when my family gets together we like to eat, and we eat a lot! Our family of six has grown to be a family of 14 in only a couple of years requiring more food to fill all our tummies.
I look forward to the comatose state of eating too much food and needing a nap after dinner as I’m sure you can all relate to.
Family meals in our home are becoming more expensive as our family continues to grow so we are always looking for ways to save money in the grocery budget even if it means cooking from scratch and trying new dishes that we haven’t tried before.
Thanksgiving Dinner on A budget
Thinking ahead and planning throughout the year for these large meals can be helpful in minimizing the cost of your dinner.
Making a turkey isn’t cheap. An 18 lb turkey will typically feed 18-20 costing around $50.00 for the turkey alone.
You do not have to follow the tradition of making a turkey with all the fixings. If a turkey is not in your budget or you would like to cook something else go for it, do not feel that you have to stick to tradition.
Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for the wonderful things we have in our lives, the meal is a bonus! Keep your eye on your flyers, buy early if you find a good sale, you can freeze it until it’s needed.
Stuffing…How many of you don’t like to eat the heels of a loaf of bread? Throw them in the freezer and they are perfect to rip up and use for making your Thanksgiving stuffing. You save money not having to buy loaves of bread or boxed stuffing and you avoid wasting bread throughout the year.
Food waste contributes to higher costs in your grocery budget so if you can use up what you have in the refrigerator or pantry before it goes off or freeze it for later use you are spending less and getting more bang for your buck.
My mom has done this for years and I quite often find myself throwing what we don’t use in the freezer and that works for me because I don’t want to have to spend any more money than I need to.
Co-host Thanksgiving dinner
Another great option is to co-host the dinner and split the work and cost with a family member. There’s no reason why one person has to do all the work. If you can get a few people together during the planning process you can host a holiday party the easy way while having others participate in the process.
Have a potluck!
Ask family members to bring a side-dish to contribute to the meal (maybe you provide the turkey) and everyone shares the costs of the meal. It’s also a great way to try new and various recipes that you might not have been inspired to make or maybe you have never heard of them before.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a potluck where someone isn’t asking another for the recipe for a dish they brought. It’s a great way to start and build conversations at a gathering as well.
In-Store deals and coupons
Around the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Easter, companies quite often offer coupons for products many of us use. These coupons can be found in various magazines, on companies Facebook pages, newspaper inserts and often on in store products.
Baking magazines with multiple coupons are also normally circulating around the holidays. Keep your eye out for these as they can be a money-saving tool for your Thanksgiving dinner.
Make your own meal
Skip the store-bought pie and dessert and make your own, after all homemade is cheaper than store-bought and tastes far more superior than anything you can buy in a box, jar or can.
How to make pumpkin puree for baking
There are a few different methods used for making pumpkin puree including steaming and roasting and boiling. For the amount of time required and how easy it is to do I like to boil mine.
- I pie pumpkin
- Select your pie pumpkin. Pie pumpkins are smaller than a pumpkin you would use for a jack-o-lantern. There are varieties of pumpkins that are better for baking being a little sweeter and having a nicer texture. I purchased mine for $2.00 at the local pumpkin farm down the road.
- Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and stringy goodness inside.
- Cut into multiple smaller pieces which can then be peeled before or after cooking.
- I like to boil the pumpkin with the skin on, it separates from the pumpkin went it boils, peeling it raw is more work.
- Boil in a pot big enough to cover all pieces, boil for approximately 25 minutes until they are nice and tender.
- Remove carefully from the pot (the pieces may fall apart) and easily remove the skin using a sharp knife to skim if it off if needed.
- Using a blender, a food processor or even a hand mixer, blend the pumpkin into puree.
- If desired, but not required, you may wish to run the puree through a sieve or cheesecloth for a smoother texture.
- Use in your favourite pumpkin recipe or freeze in portions to use at a later time
For $2.00 and approximately 40 minutes I measured out 4 ½ cups of puree compared to 2 cups that you typically get out of a can for around $3.00. A single pumpkin pie recipe usually requires 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin puree can easily be frozen and it’s good to use within a year or so. Another great frugal recipe you can check out is Mr.CBB’s Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake which is great for any Thanksgiving dinner if you want to eliminate the crust but keep the same great pumpkin pie flavour.
Autumn is my favourite season of the year. Summer has come and gone and we are left with leaves off all colours blanketing the ground, chestnuts and walnuts dropping off the trees, cool mornings and shorter days, summer is packing it in for the winter.
Take the kids for an afternoon nature walk and see what you can find to make a centre piece for your dinner table, chestnuts pines cones, or the reddish-orange leaves of a Sugar Maple tree can add some colour to your table.
Remember to always be respectful of what and where you take things from.
Support local pumpkin farms. Pumpkin farms are the place to be in the fall especially if you have young kids. Many farms offer corn mazes, hay rides, fresh-baked goods, and of course pumpkins for sale.
Along with pumpkins most sell ears of ornamental corn, corn stalks, hay bales, gourds and squash offered at reasonable, affordable prices which can be used to create a table centre piece, decorate a porch or used to make a wreath for your front door. Our local farm sells gourds 3 for $1.00, bunches of ornamental corn for $1.00, hay bales for $3.00.
Don’t be shy to check out your local dollar store as well as any free online websites like Freecycle or Kijiji where you might find some great holiday decorations for less.
Decorating your home inside and out for Thanksgiving can easily be affordable.
What are you thankful for?
This year I am thankful for my 2 beautiful children who put a smile on my face day after day, my family, friends and co-workers who continually show me support and encouragement. Remember, the best things in life are free so let’s be thankful for the time we have in life and the people we get to enjoy it with.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families this year!
How do you minimize the cost of celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones?
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