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People have been doing things differently all year round, and the holidays will be no exception.
As you make plans, starting with Thanksgiving, we’re here to tell you that saving money on this unusual holiday season is easier than you think.
We spoke with Julien Saunders, half of the duo behind the personal finance blog rich & REGULAR and a former professional chef, who has some tips for getting the most out of your holiday meal:
1. Don’t bet on leftovers
Be careful not to buy too much for your meal in the hopes that you and your family will eat Thanksgiving dishes for days to come.
“We pretend we like leftovers, but in reality I think most of us throw everything away after day two,” Saunders says. “There’s this idea that you buy a lot of food, you know you buy too much of it, but that’s good because it feeds everyone for the next three days.”
Try to buy only what you need so you don’t end up with uneaten food in the trash – or get creative with the leftovers by using ingredients.
2. Cross-use of ingredients
The cross-use of ingredients is key to a big meal like Thanksgiving, Saunders says.
“Cross-use is really ‘how do you use a particular ingredient for multiple applications? “Says Saunders:” Take turkey, for example. If you’ve got a 15-pound turkey, maybe the second or third meal, you’re probably a little bored, and your palate is definitely adjusting to the same flavor profile, so you really need to change it.
Saunders recommends easy and different recipes for your ingredients to stretch beyond the fourth Thursday in November. Try grated turkey quesadillas, turkey fried rice, or a chopped salad with your leftovers. Exploring different food genres can help you move past the classic turkey and gravy approach that you might get bored of soon after the holidays.
One way to use a lot of your ingredients is to make soup or chowder. “Soups are a great way to hide and stuff a bunch of ingredients,” says Saunders.
Think about meals beyond Thanksgiving and how you can reuse ingredients in a smart way.
Saunders says that a good cross-use strategy will save you money in the long run.
“Before you knew it, you were past a week and you actually ate the same turkey. But on the second or third day, you’re not as tempted to go out because you’re tired of eating leftovers. Because it doesn’t look like leftovers, you end up using all the ingredients you normally had with traditional Thanksgiving.
3. Avoid wine, not pleasure
A cocktail can go further than individual bottles of wine or other drinks.
“When you think of adult or alcoholic drinks, the instinct is to just have wine and beer,” says Saunders. “But a punch is a great way to get really good value for money.”
While this tip may go even further in the years to come when larger gatherings reappear, there are many fun cocktail recipes it may be different and more cost effective than the usual beer and wine approach.
“It’s a little more interesting and fun, but a lot more profitable, and definitely better than having a lot of individual bottles of wine that you think anyone who comes by might like. It’s simple, it’s affordable, ”says Saunders.
4. Turkey is not compulsory
If turkey isn’t your cup of tea, there’s no rule that says you can’t have another type of meat that may also be more profitable, like chicken or pork.
And there is “nothing wrong with becoming completely vegetarian either.” Nine times out of 10, someone messes up the turkey anyway, ”Saunders says.
And if the pandemic keeps you from meeting your normal Thanksgiving group, Saunders says it might be a good excuse to try out a vegetarian Thanksgiving if you’re interested.
But if turkey is your tradition, Saunders recommends checking out wholesalers like Costco or Sam’s Club for the best prices. Another option that you might overlook is to buy just a turkey breast, or even half a turkey. If you can’t get it at a large grocery store, try a local butcher’s shop.
No matter how you celebrate, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to break the bank. See NextAdvisor’s guide to how to save money on groceries, and remember that it is absolutely correct to reduce your expenses this holiday season.