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Tips on saving some green this Turkey Day

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.


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Halloween is but a memory and Christmas may be weeks away, and yet another big event is just around the corner.

Thanksgiving is almost among us and, with so many holidays in such a brief span of time, money issues are common this time of year.

But consumer science pros say Turkey Day doesn't have to break the bank.

Here are some tips on celebrating Thanksgiving while still saving some green.

Make dinner a potluck.

If you're hosting the meal, consider making the largest portion - the turkey - and leaving the rest to your guests. Assign someone to bring dessert, several people to bring side dishes and so on. After all, the first Thanksgiving meal was a potluck.

Shop early.

Prices often go up as the holidays approach. Buy your turkey now and freeze it. Do the same for other ingredients you can store.

Search for deals.

Scour store ads, displays and more for money-saving discounts. H-E-B's Combo Locos, for instance, often offer shoppers several free items when they purchase one specific thing. There's likely to be a Thanksgiving-themed combo coming down the road.

Consider a modernized menu.

Just because it's Thanksgiving, it doesn't mean you have to eat turkey. Consider chicken or another bird, which will likely cost less.

Shop with a plan.

As with any grocery trip, you should write out a list so you don't go off track and, eventually, overspend.

Get fresh.

Fresh produce is often cheaper than pre-packaged items. When you hit the stores, consider what's in season now - potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach and squash are good examples - and go that route. In-season items are more affordable.

Cook from scratch.

Across the board, basic ingredients are less expensive than pre-packaged items. A can of pumpkin, for instance, costs much less than the entire pie. Get in the kitchen and cook, and you'll likely save big.

Rein in your cooking.

Don't cook a 30-lb. turkey if only five people are coming over. Determine your guest list, jot down a menu and go from there.

If there are leftovers, take advantage.

Stretch that food dollar by turning extra Thanksgiving goodies into extra meals. Store deals can come in handy here, too. Some groceries offer a free ham when you buy a turkey. Why not take them up on it and get more bang - and meals - for your buck?

Booking a flight? Book early.

Airline prices increase as the holidays approach. If you know you've got to book tickets for Thanksgiving, do so as soon as possible.

Sources: Belinda Balderas, certified credit counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions in Corpus Christi and Erika Bochat, Victoria County extension agent for family and consumer sciences

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