Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner Ingredients

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Save on Thanksgiving Ingredients
The cost of Thanksgiving dinner can add up fast. Here are a few simple tips on how to trim the price of your feast and get the most bang for your buck when it comes to traditional ingredients.

When you have a lot of guests to feed it's easy to overspend at the grocery store. One way to cut costs is to check out the New York Times' Thanksgiving-erator.

This handy online tool will help you design your menu based on your cooking style, ability and desired taste. With just a few clicks, the tool will generate a list of suggestions on what dishes will suit you and your guests. It offers plenty of delicious recipes, too.

Speaking of recipes, another easy way to cut back on costs is to simplify your ingredients. For instance, cornbread sausage stuffing is delicious, but the ingredients can be expensive. Keep your expenses down by making a traditional bread stuffing using cheaper white bread and nixing the meat.

Finally, make sure to buy pre-bagged produce. Since every bag costs the same, you can get more for your money by choosing the heaviest portion. Simply compare the weight of a few bags on a scale before you buy.

As you're preparing for your Thanksgiving dinner, keep these tips in mind in order to serve your guests for less.

Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner Ingredients -- Savings Experiment

Sure, it's tempting to buy those neatly trimmed broccoli florets, but in doing so you're throwing money down the drain.

"Those packaged fruits and veggies that are already diced, chopped or sliced are marked up 40% over their whole-food counterparts," consumer money saving expert Andrea Woroch says.

The same goes for meat and poultry.  Buying ground beef already formed into hamburger patties, or chicken cubes on skewers, can cost as much as 60 percent more than buying the raw ingredients and doing the prep yourself. "Once again, you are paying for the convenience," Woroch says.

She offers a better idea: If you're too busy to start slicing and dicing after a long day of work, carve out some time over the weekend to prepare ingredients for use during the week.

An item's label on the supermarket shelf should list its price per ounce or unit price. Use that apples-to-apples comparison between brands to figure out which gives you the best value for your buck, advises Jeanette Pavini, household savings expert from Coupons.com.

Comparing unit prices will also help you to determine if those bulk buys are really a good deal after all. You might be surprised by what you discover.

Not all organic produce is created equal.

For example, don't waste money on organic fruits and vegetables with tough or inedible peels such as pineapples, papayas, mangos and avocados. "Most of the pesticides can be removed or washed away," Woroch says, citing WebMd research.

If you do opt for organic, make sure you're getting the real thing. Look for the organic seal certified by the USDA, which confirms the food is grown, harvested, and processed according to federal standards.

Labels that boast "natural," "hormone-free" or "antibiotic-free" don't necessarily assure that food meets organic standards.

And when it comes to seafood, the U.S. has no organic fish regulations, so "don't waste your money on false food claims," Woroch says.

Follow retailers and store brands on social media sites for grocery savings.

For example, if you "like" a retailer like Wal-Mart (WMT) or a brand like Ronzoni on Facebook, you can get advance notice of deals and the scoop on upcoming sale events.

Don't take a sale sign at face value, Pavini tells DailyFinance. "If a sale says five for $10, don't feel obligated to buy all five. Check the store policy: Usually you will get the same discount even if you just buy a single quantity."

If you've missed out on a store sale, don't be shy to ask your supermarket to apply the deal to a later shopping trip. "If the item you want is out of stock, have the store give you a rain check so when the items is back in stock they will honor the sale price," Pavini says.

While many fresh fruits and vegetables are available year-round, they're usually less expensive when you buy them in season. So plan your meals according to what produce is freshest. You'll pay less -- and your food will taste better, too.

And last but not least, tap coupon sites like CouponSherpa.com, Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com and FatWallet.com for printable coupons, coupon promotional codes and online coupons to slash that ever-increasing grocery bill.

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