Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner can be expensive - especially this year. Here are some tips to save and budget for holiday dinners for consumers on a budget from the personal finance site MyBankTracker.com:
1. Budget and plan a menu
Estimate how many guests will attend and who will bring a dish. Set a budget and break that down to cost per serving(s). Then you can start looking at recipes to figure out which you can afford.
2. MacGyver your meals - improvise or substitute
Don’t buy an expensive ingredient just because a recipe calls for it, especially if you will only use a small amount. Look for a substitute. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of wine and you won’t drink the rest, diluted vinegar (use twice as much water like balsamic), lemon juice or even a tart juice can make excellent substitutions. Mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese are almost interchangeable, so shop the sales and buy the cheapest. This works for dips, dressings, spreads, quiches and casseroles.
3. Look for recipes with the cheapest ingredients and price them out before heading to the store
Make sure you review the ingredients before buying. You can avoid getting to the last ingredient on the list and finding out it costs $25, like truffles, truffle oil, crème fraiche, etc. Don’t drain your budget on full-price cheeses, bacon, or other ingredients. If items in a recipe aren’t on sale - move on and find something else to make.
4. Check your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets
Eggs are inexpensive and can make a hearty, savory quiche, egg pie or bake that is appealing to the eye and can bring together seasonal vegetables. Leftovers reheat well and can be frozen. Take a look at what you have in the freezer and the back of the cabinet. Frozen broccoli, sausage or cured meats, corn, quinoa, raisins or prunes can taste fantastic in stuffing.
5. Stick to seasonal vegetables and experiment
Seasonal vegetables don’t have to be shipped as far as tend to be inexpensive this time of year. We all know about corn, cranberries, and pumpkins, but others include mushrooms, spinach, okra, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and kohlrabi and root vegetables like turnips, beets rutabagas and parsnips. Experiment with other seasonal ingredients like tomatillos, arugula or fennel.
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MyBankTracker is an independent comparison website helping consumers make smart banking and financial decisions. The mission is to match consumers to their perfect bank by providing and tracking in-depth information on more than 5,000 banks, credit unions and financial products. Using a combination of technology and money management expertise, MBT provides personal finance comparison tools and educates consumers to optimize their relationships with banks and lenders.