It seems like the cost of everything has increased this year, thanks to the current economic woes of the U.S. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn't immune, either. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual informal survey, the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 will set you back about $ increase of $2.35 or 5.6 percent from last year.

The price of all grocery items has increased this year, and at a steeper pace than previous years, thanks to the high gas prices which only recently started to decline. Still, buying the bird need not cause you to choose between a tasty meal and your child's college education. My family has always managed to get by on the cheap for Thanksgiving, and have a delicious meal in the process. So let's talk turkey and pass along a few money-saving Thanksgiving tips:

1. Go Pot Luck. There is no need to pay for the entire meal yourself. Invite friends and family (or accept an invitation to go to their house) and bring a dish to pass. This way, each person is only responsible for their dish, and that's much cheaper than buying the entire holiday meal yourself.

2. Buffet. It almost seems sacrilegious, but there are restaurants which serve turkey and all the trimmings buffet-style. If you don't have a large family, or you are going single for Thanksgiving this year, why buy all that food and prepare it yourself? If might actually be cheaper to go to a buffet-style restaurant and chow down there. This is especially a great deal if it's an all-you-can-eat place. Con: no leftovers.

3. Turkeys are generic, too. Sure, Butterball is a household name for turkey, but there are plenty of store-brand turkeys out there, too...and they are usually much cheaper per pound. We almost always buy a store-brand turkey. It still tastes great. A turkey is a turkey, right? The generic turkeys also have that pop-up timer, too. If you have a hunter in the family, you might skip the turkey and dine on some wild goose or duck if they had a good season.

4. Be adventurous. You don't necessarily have purchase a turkey for Thanksgiving. There is no law that says you must eat turkey. Some people (certainly not me) don't even LIKE turkey. A nice big roasting chicken, smoked salmon, cornish game hens or a ham will work, too.

5. Be generous. A few years ago, my wife and I volunteered to deliver Thanksgiving meals to the homebound and elderly on behalf of a Christian charity organization. We got the satisfaction of helping others, learning about things we were truly grateful for (no matter how bad you think things are for you, there is ALWAYS somebody else who needs help more than you) and we were offered a Thanksgiving meal back at the kitchen as the charity's way of saying...well, thanks.

Savvy Frugality Recommended Reading: With Money Tight, Layaway Makes a Big Comeback.


  1. Andrew // November 17, 2008 at 1:44 AM  

    Hi SavvyFrugality,

    I'm emailing you in regards to an email I sent to you last month about a partnership, have you had a chance to think about it?

    If you have any questions or would more information, please advise me and we can go from there.

    Kind Regards,
    Andrew Knight

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