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10 money-saving tips for throwing the perfect Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving, one of the most special and memorable holidays of the year, can be both fun and expensive. The Arizona Farm Bureau predicts a typical Thanksgiving meal for 10 will cost about $49. The holiday may be stressful, but it shouldn’t be a wallet crusher. Here are a few tips to have a plentiful meal without skimping on the trimmings.

1. Map it out. About every money-saving decision requires planning. Get an exact head count, decide what dishes you’ll make and exactly what ingredients you need to buy. Crossing items off a list can help you stay on track and avoid over-buying.

2. Look for deals. If you haven’t already, start buying items as they go on sale. The week before Thanksgiving offers some of the best prices. Carefully look at store ads and spend the extra time to go around each store in order to find the best prices for everything on your list. Tip: Give yourself plenty of time to grocery shop, as stores will be Thanksgiving week.

3. Frozen over fresh. When it comes to the bird, buying frozen is typically cheaper. Shop around for the best prices at different stores and take advantage of extra coupons or points associated with the store you shop at. Don’t forget to thaw the turkey days before the main event!

4. Store brands. Most of the time, store brand items are cheaper than national brands. Even a difference of mere cents can add up at the end. Pair that with a store coupon and you have an even better deal. Sometimes national brands can be cheaper than store brands if there is a sale going and/or if you can pair it with a manufacturer’s coupon.

5. Make your own. Some foods like whipped cream, pie crusts and breadcrumbs can be made from scratch, thereby saving you money. Spend some time looking up recipes and make those staples yourself ahead of time.

6. Skip the throwaways. It is definitely easier to buy paper plates and plastic cutlery to avoid cleanups after dinner, however, it’s possible buying disposables year after year can rack up quite a bill. Keep an eye out for great dinnerware sets that will last a long time and can be used throughout the year.

7. Buy more than one. We often think buying in bulk is either for large families or extreme couponers. During this time of year, however, buying larger portions or quantities can help you save money. If you find a great deal where an item is cheaper if you buy in bulk, offer to split it with a friend or a family member. You both win.

8. Pay with cash. Instead of pulling out the plastic every time, get money from the ATM and watch how much more protective of your hard-earned money you become when you hand it to the cashier. By paying with cash, you’ll make better money-sound decisions, because you can literally see your cash disappearing. You’ll find yourself going for the more affordable items, resisting impulse grabs and sticking to your list and budget.

9. Skip the cooking. I don’t mean go out to eat! Instead, invite your guests to each bring one or two dishes. You split the cost and save a lot of time, not to mention the stress.

10. Don’t forget the less fortunate. One way to help our fellow Americans is to invite neighbors who may be struggling financially. Make a donation at a Valley food bank or volunteer your time. Overall, a good deed is always much appreciated.