Turkey Prices Soar - Tips to Make Thanksgiving Dinner for Less

That big turkey dinner won't just put you to sleep this year; it'll also cost you an arm and a wing. According to a recent survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the price of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will rise 13 percent this year. That means an average meal for 10 could set you back $49.20, up $5.73 from 2010.



Tom Turkey is the main culprit behind the biggest increase in 26 years. A 16-pound bird will run $21.57, up more than 22 percent from last year.

If you're a perennial chef, or just cooking your first turkey dinner, consider the following tips to avoid economic indigestion.

1. Smaller Can Be Better
If you're not a fan of leftovers, buying a smaller turkey will save you some cash, since guests often fill up on side dishes anyway.

2. Buy Early
Got extra space in your freezer? Then buy the bird now. Supermarkets tend to stock up early, then offer some excellent prices per pound. Shop early sales and keep an eye out for printable grocery coupons at websites like CouponSherpa.com.

3. Go Traditional
You can either end up with a wine cellar full of hostess gifts or ask guests to bring their favorite dish instead of a bottle. If you're cooking the big bird, they might be willing to help with the smaller sides.

4. Be a Borrower
Borrow serving dishes and specialty cookware, instead of purchasing them. That particularly applies to that tin-foil turkey roaster you end up buying each year to avoid cleaning. If you don't feel like scrubbing into the night, try this Cooks.com recipe for roasting the perfect bird in a brown paper bag.

5. Bulk Up Your Drink Purchases
Stock up on wine and beer from bulk retailers like Costco. They have a great selection and offer deals of up to 30-percent less than grocery stores.

6. Bring Nature Indoors
Use decor inspired by nature, like pine cones and intertwined twigs. Pumpkins spray-painted gold offer a festive touch, one that would cost over $30 if purchased at a specialty store. Plus, they're cheaper after Halloween. Or you could cut holes in fruit, insert tealights, and create a natural and inexpensive centerpiece. Check out FreshHomeIdeas.com for more concepts.

7. DIY
Avoid prepared foods, which are typically marked up over 40 percent. Besides, you didn't really believe boxed stuffing tastes as good as the real stuff.

8. Save at Dollar Stores
Buy paper goods, napkins, favors, etc. at dollar stores. You'd be surprised how many party fixings you can buy for just $1 apiece.

9. Do Your Own Prep
Buy your veggies whole and do the prep yourself. Pre-cut and pre-sliced produce are more expensive and often not as fresh. You can enlist a friend to help handle all the prep and chat while working.

10. Homemake Desserts
Pre-made desserts are marked up 100 percent, so it really pays to make your own. Try this Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie recipe from SimplyRecipes for down-home goodness.

11. Stick to Your list
It's easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit while shopping for Thanksgiving goodies, and supermarkets guide you in the direction of overspending with these sneaky strategies. Before heading to the store, make a detailed list of what you need and stick to it. And also fix yourself a sandwich; there's nothing more dangerous than holiday grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

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