11 Tips to Save on Thanksgiving Groceries This Year
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Ah, November — the month when fall festivities come into full swing and, of course, when we anticipate gathering with loved ones for Thanksgiving! But the much-anticipated feast is the real star of the holiday: roasted turkey, savory stuffing, luscious gravy, fluffy mashed potatoes, and delectable pumpkin pie. It’s an extravagant dinner that warms the heart and fills the stomach.
With a big feast comes much grocery shopping and preparation, and this year may look a bit different. The average cost of Thanksgiving dinner based on advertised prices across the major cities in the U.S. was $39.85 in 2021, whereas the average cost of groceries in October was 12.4% higher than a year ago, according to NPR. But don’t let it put a damper on your holiday cheer. There are many ways to keep the costs of your Thanksgiving meal down while enjoying all the stops at the dinner table! We’ve put together tips to maximize grocery savings on your Thanksgiving food bills this year.
Shop at These Grocery Stores for Thanksgiving Discounts
Shop at these eight supermarkets for grocery discounts to save money on this year’s Thanksgiving meal.
- Walmart - To give shoppers the best deals, Walmart is selling Thanksgiving staples at last year’s prices. From turkeys to cranberry sauce, find everything rolled back based on costs from 2021. You’ll find a whole turkey for under $1 per pound, along with grab-and-go meal options to make the holiday a lot less stressful.
- Safeway - Safeway is offering a free turkey up to 16 pounds this holiday when you spend $150 and use a digital coupon from the Just for U app, where you can access their free loyalty program. The promotion is valid until supplies last, so act quickly to get your turkey.
- Aldi - Aldi is also offering a similar deal with its Thanksgiving Price Rewind. They’re giving shoppers 2019 prices on holiday favorites including appetizers, desserts, and sides, allowing them to save up to 30% on select items. The promotion is available online and in-store until Nov. 29, so you can enjoy the deals after Thanksgiving.
- Lidl - Get all the Thanksgiving essentials for less than $30 with Lidl’s Thanksgiving basket, which has enough for up to 10 people. It includes a 13-pound frozen turkey, baby carrots, sweet peas, turkey stuffing mix, and sweet potatoes. The deal is available through the German grocer’s loyalty program, which anyone can join for free.
- Publix - For those who prefer a Thanksgiving takeaway option, Publix is offering their Thanksgiving to-go boxes, which can feed a crowd for a great price. The small box costs $54.99 and feeds seven to 10 people, while the large box costs $99.99 and feeds 14-18 people. It’s a low-cost option for an easy Thanksgiving — just make sure to pick up a box before the holiday, since the grocery store closes on Thanksgiving.
- Fareway Meat & Grocery - Score a free turkey at Fareway when you make a purchase $50 or over at their meat counter. They’re offering free turkeys up to 14 pounds, so you can save on the main course. If you need a bigger turkey, you can apply this discount toward a larger one at the register.
- Shop Rite - The grocery store is also offering a free turkey or ham for Thanksgiving for shoppers who spend $400 from now until Thanksgiving. Just sign up for their free loyalty club to track your spending by scanning your club card each time you shop. Once you hit the required spend amount, you can choose from turkey, chicken, tofurky, ham, or lasagna.
- BJ’s Wholesale Club - Score a free Butterball turkey when you spend $150 in one transaction either online or in-store. You’ll get a digital coupon for your turkey once you make your $150 purchase, which you can redeem between Nov. 12 and Nov. 23. Choose between fresh or frozen — this is one sweet deal to keep your wallet lighter this holiday season.
How to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner
1. Plan Ahead and Have a Budget Ready
The easiest way to ensure maximum savings on Thanksgiving groceries is to set a budget, taking into account the number of people you’re expecting for the holiday feast. If you set a budget of $50 for 10 people, the cost comes down to $5 per person. Having a budget means you can decide how much to allocate for the biggest purchases, like turkey. You can also stick to your budget by deciding on a set menu and keeping it simple: fancier recipes usually call for more expensive ingredients, or those you don’t already have in your pantry. Thanksgiving staples including turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and cranberry sauce are easy to prepare for less. Plus, having clear boundaries about what you’ll be spending your money on will keep you from making extra purchases.
2. Buy Your Ingredients Early
Supermarkets and grocery chains typically put ingredients and items for Thanksgiving dinner on sale two to three weeks beforehand. Have your shopping list ready to go so you can purchase items as they go on sale. It’ll relieve you of the last-minute Thanksgiving shopping rush because you’ll have all the ingredients you need. Some items are ideal to purchase further in advance: butter, bacon, and rolls can go in the freezer for long-term storage, while nonperishables like spices and canned items have a long shelf life.
3. Comparison Shop for Turkeys
Invest some time comparison-shopping for whole turkeys to get the best deal. As the price of turkey has gone up this year, this step will go a long way. You might even get a turkey for free, as some grocery stores offer whole turkeys for free with a purchase of over a certain amount — just check to see which ones have this offer available. As you shop, the general rule of thumb is one pound of turkey per person, or 1.5 pounds if you’re expecting hearty eaters at the dinner table.
4. Go for Choice Pieces
Not jazzed about roasting a whole turkey? You can save even more by choosing cuts of turkey instead of going for the entire thing. In addition to keeping grocery costs down, this makes Thanksgiving preparation much less daunting. Plus, you can select custom cuts to suit each person’s preference at the dinner table. It’ll keep you from going overboard on purchasing turkey by making it easy to buy just enough for your dinner guests.
5. Go Wholesale
If you’re expecting a crowd this year for Thanksgiving, shop wholesale to get low prices for staple ingredients in bulk. You can stock up on butter, eggs, sugar, and flour and still have more than enough in your fridge and pantry after the feast is over. Wholesale stores are also ideal places to save on bulk produce, like potatoes. If buying in bulk is daunting, team up with a friend and split the staple ingredients: you’ll both save a significant amount. Plus, it’s a great place to go if you need more than a couple of bottles of wine.
6. Put a New Take on Tradition
Another way to save on Thanksgiving groceries is to opt for chicken, which is a cheaper poultry pick. Since turkey tends to take up a significant part of the Thanksgiving budget, going for chicken cuts costs and gives you wiggle room to spend a little more on other dishes. Plus, roasting a whole chicken is much easier than putting a whole turkey in the oven, so it’ll relieve some of the effort of preparing a holiday feast.
7. Skip Prepackaged Produce
When shopping for produce, skip the prepackaged stuff and go for whole produce instead. While it does mean putting a little more effort into Thanksgiving prep, you save up to 40% off by choosing carrots, brussel sprouts, and whole broccoli. The only exception to this is buying frozen produce when an item is out of season: Since fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at peak ripeness, it’s just as good as buying fresh. You can save on items like cranberries and green beans by buying them frozen.
8. Load Up on Inexpensive Dishes
When planning your Thanksgiving dinner, make more room for inexpensive dishes. You can buy less turkey while ensuring your guests are full and satiated. Think mashed potatoes, stuffing, and yams, which are filling and cost less to prepare. Keep essentials that require fewer ingredients — like green beans and cranberry sauce — simple, and you can serve more at the table.
9. Sign Up for Market Mailing Lists
Stay in the loop on the latest discounts and access exclusive coupons and deals by signing up for email newsletters from your local markets. Not only does it save you the effort of comparison-shopping in person, but it also means you find out about savings as soon as they’re available. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a ripe time for deals at markets and grocery chains, so keep an eye out for promotions in your inbox.
10. Ask Guests to Pitch In
Since Thanksgiving dinner preparation can be overwhelming, why not split the costs and the effort by asking guests to pitch in? Having each guest take over a Thanksgiving dish relieves the pressure of cooking an entire feast for a crowd. Because it takes little effort to prepare one dish, it’s a win-win situation for all. With a bit of organization and communication, you can cover all the bases and keep the holiday budget-friendly.
11. Go Generic for Staple Items
When purchasing staple items like spices, condiments, and canned ingredients, always go for generic: It saves you money on groceries year-round and can cut the costs of Thanksgiving groceries significantly. Whether it’s cinnamon, canned pumpkin, or cream of mushroom soup, there’s little difference in quality between name-brand and generic. Also stick to generic when picking up flour, sugar, and brown sugar. You can stock up on what you often use so you have it on hand at any time of the year.