No holiday puts food center stage like Thanksgiving. With food prices on the rise, many families may need to rethink their Thanksgiving menus to keep from eating into their Christmas present cash.
For those responsible for holding the family Thanksgiving feast, the pending cost of putting the meal on the table may already be causing holiday stress. There are ways to cut back on food costs for this Thanksgiving that will still allow everyone to stuff themselves silly and keep tradtion in this traditional feast.
Tip #1: Put the bird on a diet.
If turkey is a must for your traditional Thanksgiving feast, consider reducing the amount and type of turkey you serve. While the whole cooked bird is impressive, it can also be wasteful and many families do not bother to carve the turkey at the table. Further, there are many parts of a whole turkey that do not get eaten.
Instead of cooking and serving a whole bird, try one or two turkey breasts. These alternate pieces look a little like a ham, are easier to handle than whole turkeys, and are actually safer since it is easier to judge accurate cooking time. Most importantly, these turkey breasts are cheaper than purchasing a whole bird.
Tip #2: Keep the stuffing, even if you ditch the whole bird.
Stuffing is a wonderful thing. You can pack it into a whole bird, or, you can pack it into a casserole dish for cooking. By cooking the stuffing in a casserole dish, it will be easier to judge how much to is being made, so you can have just the right amount for your guests.
As with the turkey breasts, cooking stuffing in a casserole dish is safer, as it is easier to know when the stuffing is thoroughly cooked, and it can’t be contaminated by uncooked turkey meat.
Tip#3: Only serve what people actually eat.
Thanksgiving dinner is a holiday dinner that is built as much on expectations as it is on taste. Many hosts will serve dishes that may not be well liked, but are considered a must on the Thanksgiving table.
Think back to past Thanksgiving dinners and which side dishes created the most leftovers. If no one actually likes the creamed corn casserole, but you can’t remember a Thanksgiving when it wasn’t served, skip it.
Only serving side dishes that you know everyone likes will cut back on supplies to be purchased, time spent in the kitchen, and leftovers to get rid of. Tradition has its place, but if no one likes it anyway, they will be extra thankful to see that creamed corn was skipped this year.
Tip #4: Make it a potluck.
There is some pride that goes with laying a great Thanksgiving dinner on the table all by yourself, but your guests will enjoy the food just as much even if they have to bring part of it.
Ask guests to bring a favorite dish, and don’t be afraid to specify what kind of dish to bring. No one wants to see five green bean casseroles on the table and no dessert. Everyone will like to see a variety of dishes for appetizers, dinner, and dessert, and everyone can share in the pride of seeing the other guests enjoying their food.
Tip #5: Trade in your own kitchen for Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen, church or community sponsored Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
If you really want to make your guests feel good this Thanksgiving, or just want to take a complete break from your own kitchen, spend this Thanksgiving helping others.
Nearly every city and town hosts dinners for the homeless and less advantaged in the community. Make one huge side dish and serve it out to people who couldn’t even afford to buy themselves a cup of coffee for Thanksgiving. You won’t spend as much money, and you’ll be repaid tenfold by the feeling of making someone else’s Thanksgiving more enjoyable.