How To Plan and Shop for Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget / /

Inflation poses a threat not only to holiday shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also to the holidays themselves. According to a new survey by Personal Capital, one in four Americans plans to skip Thanksgiving this year in order to save money, and 88% are cutting at least one dish from their Thanksgiving meal to trim costs.

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Though skyrocketing costs aren’t to be taken lightly (certainly not in a society where most of us are working numerous jobs to get by), they’re also not the end of the world. In other words, there are ways to work around high prices so you can still have the festive gathering you and your loved ones deserve.

Let’s explore several ways to plan and shop for Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

Use Your Freezer to the Max

“Start stocking up on things that go on sale now but you can freeze and use later,” said Dr. Joan Salge Blake, a nutrition professor at Boston University and the host of the nutrition and health podcast Spot On! “If your favorite baking apples and pie crust go on sale, buy them now and make the pie and freeze it. If the vanilla ice cream is also on sale, freeze it along with the pie, for a dessert that is one and done. This will not only save you moola but ratchet down the stress of having to make the entire meal all at one time during the holidays.”

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Ask Your Guests About Dietary Restrictions Now

“My advice to hosts on a budget is to start talking to your guests early about what their dietary restrictions are,” food blogger Emily Krill said. “You shouldn’t just assume that everyone will love your turkey and stuffing. You should research options for vegetarians, low carb, low calorie, gluten-free and dairy-free preferences, if necessary.

“Some diets are more expensive than others though, so it’s good to leave yourself some time to research the different diets online and find inexpensive options. Luckily, the internet has recipes for just about every diet and every food you can think of.”

Plan Your Menu ASAP

“I recommend having your menu and recipes picked as soon as possible,” said Kevin Templeton, executive chef at barleymash in San Diego. “This year is especially important to plan ahead because of short supply. There are so many shortages of ingredients this year, so plan ahead and also have multiple backup plans.”

Streamline Your Menu

“Too often it’s easy to get into the festive spirit and want to go all out, especially after the last couple of years,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with “But doing so means adding on extra stress and spending more money. … Instead of trying to go all out and offer everything that sounds good, plan your menu when you aren’t hungry and keep it to a reasonable level.

“Think one or two appetizers at most, the main dish with two to three sides — and make at least one of those sides super easy, like steamed veggies — and then a couple of desserts to choose from, based on your guests. Don’t be afraid to rely on store-bought items to serve as shortcuts either, assuming you can get them for a decent price and they’ll save you money in the long run.”

Buy the Turkey One Month Ahead of Thanksgiving

“Since the turkey is the star of the show, I’d suggest purchasing a frozen turkey at least one month out from Thanksgiving,” said Jessica Mode, a content creator and chef at Homebody Eats. “You can also reserve a fresh turkey at your local meat market.”

Take Inventory of Your Cookware and Serving Dishes

“A month out, you should also do an inventory of your cookware and serving dishes,” Mode said. “If there’s something you don’t have, like a roasting pan for the turkey, ask a friend to borrow theirs or find deals online to purchase.”

The more you buy in advance, the more you can space out your purchases and feel like you’re taking less of a financial hit.

Consider Canned

“Depending on the vegetable, the canned versions can be as much as 80% cheaper than fresh and 50% cheaper than frozen,” Blake said. “You can create a very inexpensive first-course vegetable soup by substituting the fresh veggies in the recipe with the canned variety, such as tomatoes, potatoes and beans.

“Bonus: The canned veggies are already cleaned and diced, so they are ready to use. Double Bonus: Make the soup in advance and freeze it along with the apple pie and ice cream.”

Check for Supermarket BOGOs Weekly From Now Until Thanksgiving

“Each week, check your retailers for the sales and BOGOS [buy one, get one] and stock up on the ingredients you’ll need,” said Lisa Lotts, the owner and publisher of Garlic & Zest.

Stock Up on Stock

“Try the freezer area of your local grocery store or the butcher shop you bought your turkey from if you didn’t make your own [stock],” said Shakzod Khabibov, co-founder of Natura Market. “In addition to using it to make gravy and deglaze your roasting pan, you should have some available for braising vegetables. If you have any guests who are trying to avoid eating meat, you may want to stock up on some tasty vegetarian options. The leftover stock is great for freezing.”

Don’t Pay More for Convenience

“Don’t pay extra for things you can do yourself,” Blake said. ” For example, baby carrots are made from large carrots that come in a ready-to-cook size but typically cost more than twice the amount. Dust off your chef’s knife and carve those large carrots into petite size portions.”

Use Your Best Rewards Card

“[Look] into the terms of your credit cards to determine which categories of spending earn the most rewards — i.e., cash back, points, miles, etc.,” said Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback. “Make note to use that card when shopping. For example, if you have a credit card that earns a high percentage of cash back on gas and groceries, be sure to use that card for those items. And, at the end of the billing period, you may be able to apply the rewards as a statement credit to help pay off your bill. … You can shop for Thanksgiving and put the money earned towards holiday gift shopping.”

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

“Sign up for loyalty programs to access exclusive promotions,” Gramuglia said. “For example, the store may offer a free turkey when you spend a certain amount of money.”

Take Your Guests Up on Offers To Bring Things

“If someone says, ‘What can I bring?’, tell them a specific item like sweet potato casserole, or at least tell them a category like an appetizer or dessert,” said Karen Kelly, a gluten-free food blogger and health coach at Seasonal Cravings. “Trust me: Your guests will want to bring something; so, instead of getting a lot of flowers, have them bring something useful that will help you cut the cost of your Thanksgiving meal.”

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This article originally appeared on How To Plan and Shop for Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget