It’s that time of year again – preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Even though family gatherings or Friends-givings may be smaller, budgets are likely tighter too. There are things hosts can do besides watching grocery store deal, using reward points or pooling resources by shopping with family members or friends.
1. Budget and plan a menu
Estimate how many guests will attend and who will bring a dish. Set a budget and break that down to cost per serving(s). Then you can start looking at recipes to figure out which you can afford.
2. MacGyver your meals – improvise or substitute
Don’t buy an expensive ingredient just because a recipe calls for it, especially if you will only use a small amount. Look for a substitute. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of wine and you won’t drink the rest, diluted vinegar (use twice as much water like balsamic), lemon juice or even a tart juice can make excellent substitutions.
Mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese are almost interchangeable, so shop the sales and buy the cheapest. This works for dips, dressings, spreads, quiches and casseroles.
3. Look for recipes with the cheapest ingredients and price them out before heading to the store
Make sure you review the ingredients before buying. You can avoid getting to the last ingredient on the list and finding out it costs $25, like truffles, truffle oil, crème fraiche, etc.
Don’t drain your budget on full-price cheeses, bacon, or other ingredients. If items in a recipe aren’t on sale – move on and find something else to make.
4. Check your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets
Eggs are inexpensive and can make a hearty, savory quiche, egg pie or bake that is appealing to the eye and can bring together seasonal vegetables. Leftovers reheat well and can be frozen.
Take a look at what you have in the freezer and the back of the cabinet. Frozen broccoli, sausage or cured meats, corn, quinoa, raisins or prunes can taste fantastic in stuffing.
5. Stick to seasonal vegetables and experiment
Seasonal vegetables don’t have to be shipped as far as tend to be inexpensive this time of year. We all know about corn, cranberries, and pumpkins, but others include mushrooms, spinach, okra, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and kohlrabi and root vegetables like turnips, beets rutabagas and parsnips. Experiment with other seasonal ingredients like tomatillos, arugula or fennel.
These tips are from MyBankTracker.com, a personal finance site.