How to Have Thanksgiving on a Budget
By Susan Dunn, M.A., The EQ Coach
I'm delighted that this article has been chosen for the November issue of the Key Biscayne Magazine. Since we're all feeling the squeeze right now, with gas prices up, stock market reeling, and unemployment rising, this is good information for you to have.
THANKSGIVING ON A BUDGET
Yes, it's the time of abundance, but if you're on a budget, stick to it and avoid some stress and guilt. It's the emotionally intelligent thing to do!
Holidayorganizer.com has some great savings tips, and I've added a few of my own.
1. Know your portions.
It's tempting to have a big, beautiful bird, but it's more sensible to buy only as much as you'll need for your family. The formula is 1 lb. per person. If you want leftovers, 1.5-2.0 lbs. per person.
2. Take good care of the bird right after dinner.
If you'll take the time to remove the meat and wrap it carefully in saran wrap or air-tight containers, it will remain nice and moist and tempting for the next meals. For the immediate next dinner, place the turkey in a plastic container, put a piece of waxed paper and then put some wet paper towels atop that. Keeps it nice and moist for sandwiches the next night.
3. Plan your leftovers.
Get those recipes ready. The meal's good just warmed over for the next night, as long as the gravy holds, but after that there's Turkey Tetrazzini, turkey soup, turkey hash. Rotate it with other meals. (Don't refreeze once-frozen turkey.) Try a variety of flavors to go with the turkey. Turkey Tetrazzini is bland. Try your own version of Eggs Benedict, using turkey instead of Canadian bacon. The hollandaise will add a zip. Make King Ranch Chicken (aka Turkey) with hot sauce. They won't even know it's turkey! End with cold turkey salad; the mayonnaise will moisten it. Or Turkey soup - google for recipes, there are tons. Some people even use the bones for stock for this.
4. Grocery shop the day after Thanksgiving.
Bargain-o-rama. Have you ever been? Surplus fresh turkeys at pennies on the dollar, bakery items, breads, fresh yams. Clean out your freeze and get ready. So ... shop for your Christmas meal the day after Thanksgiving!
5. Pay for convenience when it counts.
I like to buy throwaway aluminum pans to cook the turkey in. It's just such a mess to clean up afterwards. My sister buys gravy from the catering shop; an indulgence, but worth it to her. Many young brides find gravy to be the most challenging thing, so it can be a great stress remover, because don't we all live for the gravy!!
6. Consider alternatives.
Make your own pie crust and bread. Unless you live in sweet potato country, canned yams or sweet potatoes are a better bet than fresh. Pre-baked breads are often sacrificed as loss leaders and with the rest of the spread, people don't really care. Pumpkin filling mix, often on sale, is cheaper than buying canned pumpkin and adding evaporated milk and eggs.
7. Make your own stuffing.
That's never on sale! Start on your stuffing mix now. Easy as pie! When your loaf of bread is getting old, put the last pieces on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven. Warm at 350 for 5 mins., then turn off. Leave the bread there to dry out. Put into baggies and save. Keep doing this. If you like cornbread stuffing, start planning lots of chili and cornbread meals! When it's time to make the stuffing, crush the dried bread (still in the bag) with a rolling pin and it'll look and act just like the storebought mix.
8. Decorations? Festive wear?
Shop at Goodwill right now. I'm a thrifty shopper and I always find thematic sweaters at my local Goodwill. Next tip -- If you didn't do it last year, do it this year. Go out the day after Thanksgiving and pick up all those napkins, tableware, ceramic centerpieces and cute decorations for a pittance. If you like a holiday sweater or t-shirt, check those sales out too. And don't let Madison Avenue jerk you around with the change of color-scheme every year. Choose one you like and stick with it!
9. Don't forget about potluck.
Most people who are guests at your table for Thanksgiving, would actually love to bring something so they feel they've contributed and are part of the holiday. And we all secretly feel "it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without XXX," so give them the chance to bring what means Thanksgiving to them. My daughter-in-law's Mom and Dad have pecan trees in the back yard, so they always bring the pecan pie, and what a savings that is!
10. Trompe l'oeil, it's called in France -- fool the eye.
My grandmother taught me this one. She mashed the potatoes and then put dollops of butter on top to melt -- for the eye. Splurge maybe on one item, for instance, some of the stores sell molded butter in holiday shapes. This can sure dress up the brown'n'bake rolls!
© Susan Dunn, the EQ Coach, helps clients develop their emotional intelligence and personal foundation for more health, success and happiness. Visit her on the web at http://www.susandunn.cc/ and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE ezine.