You Don't Have to Go Bankrupt Making Thanksgiving Dinner

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, your "classic" Thanksgiving dinner of "turkey, whiskey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings" will cost 13 percent more than it did last year. As if you needed to hear that kind of news!

The Federation attributes the price increases to growing demand for turkeys both here and abroad, which doesn't make sense because other countries don't even celebrate Thanksgiving. Huh. Also, retailers are passing on more shipping, storing, and processing costs to shoppers as part of the general trend of gobbling up the middle class through higher prices. Whereas last year a feast for 10 cost $43.47, this year it will cost $49.20. Six dollars might not sound like a big deal, but if you're a Poor without a job and living on unemployment benefits it can be a considerable expenditure.

Luckily for you, we're very frugal and resourceful and can offer you many ideas on how to minimize the effects of these new price increases on your wallet or pocketbook. Follow these tips and you might even be able to keep your home until New Year's:

  • Forgo the turkey, the "big-ticket item" of your standard holiday meal. Substitute it with something else, like a vegetarian option. Lentils, for example, are filled with protein but cost just pennies per pound. By combining the lentils with other foods, you can create a substance that can be molded into a turkey shape. If rendered skillfully enough, your lenturky will leave your guests wondering where you picked up your sculpting talents.
  • Serve pumpkin-less pumpkin pie. According to the AFBA, a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix costs $3.03, "up 41 cents," while two nine-inch pie shells cost $2.52, "up 6 cents." Skipping the pumpkin saves you $3.03 and exposes you to only a six-cent price increase.
  • Stick to those rare foods that have actually gotten cheaper over the last year. For example, the AFBA notes that "a one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery declined by a penny to 76 cents." Serve nothing but one-pound relish trays of carrots and celery.
  • Serve cheaper versions of holiday favorites. The AFBA's stats say that fresh cranberries cost $2.48, up 7 cents. Do your guests really deserve fresh cranberries? Think about all the ways they've slighted you over the years, and you'll soon realize that they don't. But they might deserve the jellied cranberry material that comes in a can. They almost definitely deserve little jelly packs you took home from that restaurant where you go after church. Use your judgment.
  • Go heavy on the dairy, and the onions. "A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) decreased in price, to $3.10," says the AFBA. Use these products to create your own tasty combinations: Butter sticks dipped in sugary evaporated milk; butter sticks coated with sugar grains; Mama's Sugar 'n' Onions, which involves frying up sugar and onions in butter; fried onions in evaporated milk; and Sugar Eggs.
  • Enforce the small-portion rule. Gently inform your guests that if they ask for seconds they will be escorted out of your home by police.
  • Smaller plates. This always tricks people into believing that they're eating a ton of food when they're not. Do you or your kids have dolls? Serve dinner on the doll plates.
  • Spread the expense. Have your guests bring individual components of the meal. Assign the turkey to your poorest guest and assign the "one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery" to your wealthiest guest in an homage to America's income gap. Seat the Poorest and the Wealthiest next to each other at the dinner table and see if class differences affect their interactions.
  • Cancel the meal. Spend your holiday alone muttering to yourself and reading Philip K. Dick novels. (We've tried this before and it saves both money and time.)

If you have read this far, I am very thankful for you and your curiosity. Now please pass the fresh jelly packs.

[KTLA, Shutterstock]