Typical Thanksgiving food on a table with the cooked turkey in the center.

There are many costs attached to Thanksgiving that go beyond the grocery bill. Let's talk about how you can cut down on some of those expenses, and prepare ahead of time to space out the spending.

Shop for Items Early

Shopping early can save you a lot of money and time when Thanksgiving rolls around. A few months beforehand, make a list of the ingredients you're going to need this year. This may require a bit of planning ahead when the ingredients you need aren't in high demand. In October, everyone is busy shopping for costumes, candy, and getting ready for Halloween. Use this opportunity to get ahead of the game and stock up on canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and baking goods while your local grocery has a full supply. Most canned and boxed foods will stay fresh for a few months if you buy them at the right time and double check the expiration dates. Your turkey can actually be bought several months in advance, as well. According to foodsafety.gov, a frozen whole turkey will keep for about 1 year in your freezer. We don't think you need to buy it that early, but it's good to know that you have more chances to buy one than the week before Thanksgiving!

Decorations

When it comes to decorations for Thanksgiving, all you need to show your festive spirit is a touch of nature around your home. Pinecones can be transformed into a lovely center piece just as easily as some old clothing stuffed with leaves can be the perfect beginnings for a DIY scarecrow for the front porch! Take a look around your house and yard for things you can use or repurpose before you go out and buy those expensive lawn decorations that will likely only get used for one month out of the year! With all of the money you save on decorating your house, you can afford to spend a little extra on preparing your favorite Thanksgiving dish!

Thanksgiving Potluck

It's clear that the best way to be thrifty on Thanksgiving is to avoid spending too much money on all of the food that comes along with the holiday. So, how are you supposed to get away with having a traditional Thanksgiving without spending more money than you can afford? Mix it up this year with a potluck-style Thanksgiving meal. Purchase the ingredients for one or two dishes and have the rest of your guests provide their favorite dish for the occasion. By doing this, you'll keep your budget in mind while still making sure everyone in attendance is well-fed on this food-filled holiday. As a bonus, you'll even save on water by having fewer dishes to wash!

Life-Saving Leftovers

Thanksgiving dinner is known as the silent killer of motivation. A stomach full of a delicious turkey dinner can make anyone dread putting away the leftovers into Tupperware stacked high in the refrigerator. With the couch calling your name, it might even be tempting to throw the extra food away and call it a day. Throwing your leftovers away would be a terrible waste of money, as well as, a waste of good meal ideas! Leftovers can be used a variety of ways and can actually prevent you from having to buy any groceries for (at least) a few days after Thanksgiving. Take a deep breath, enlist family members to help, and pack up those leftovers! Afraid you won't use all of the food and it'll go to waste? Have guests bring their own Tupperware to take food home with them! This will turn clean-up into a group effort and it will go by a lot faster.

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