Five tips to make your Thanksgiving meal a little less costly

Let's get the first one right out of the way: You can save a lot of money by choosing NOT to celebrate Thanksgiving, or by letting somebody else feed you and yours.

But you're not going that route. You're cooking the bird, and you need tips. Here are five Turkey Day tips that will help you save money on your annual bread-breaking.

Think ahead to your meal on Thanksgiving Eve. As it turns out, Wednesday night happens to be the third best-selling night for pizzerias around the country. Nobody who is cooking Thanksgiving wants to be making an elaborate meal on the Wednesday night before the big day, and so going out and getting pizza or having it delivered is something of an accidental tradition in many families. That said, pizzerias are after your business. For instance, Papa John's Facebook is still doing its "buy one get one free offer" until Wednesday (if you become a "fan" of Papa John's Facebook profile, you get a code for a free medium cheese pizza with any pizza order). Anyway, I'm just saying, if you're considering ordering out for pizza this night, anyway, there are likely going to be some good deals out there.

Shopping. We've written a lot about online coupon web sites on WalletPop, but many of them are for online shopping, and so I thought I'd mention that is all about grocery stores. You go to the web site, type in your zip code, and a gazillion coupons for stores in your area will pop up.

What time are you serving dinner? Here's an illuminating idea. Blogger Leah Ingram suggests having your dinner during daylight hours, which cuts down your electricity bill. (She also puts forward a number of other good, greenish ideas for saving money on the big day.)

Turn down the thermostat. Among those ideas, Ms. Ingram also suggests turning down the heat on your thermostat. Roasting bird all day heats up your kitchen nicely. And all those roaming family members keep the place warm as well. No need to pay for energy when it's all right there in your kitchen.

Make it; don't buy it.
Sure, you have to buy the ingredients, but you know what I'm saying. If you cut up your lettuce versus buying it prepackaged, if you make your stuffing rather than getting it at a deli already prepared, and on and on, you'll save money, and you'll likely have a lot of very satisfied, grateful guests.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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