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Thanksgiving is a day filled with love, joy, and of course, thankfulness. Planning Thanksgiving can be stressful. I thought I would share how planning Thanksgiving on a limited budget, with limited time, can be done!
Use Premade Dishes
It may be considered lazy to some, but I just don’t have the time to make an elaborate 15 dish meal in one day. I love cooking, but I also know that I don’t get holiday pay or time off as an entrepreneur. Although I take the full day off from clients on Thanksgiving, I still work on my own blog and social media.
Since I don’t get a ton of time off, I buy a few pre-made dishes. Since pre-made dishes can get expensive, I suggest only purchasing them when they make sense. For example, I typically purchase pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, and the dinner rolls.
Use Special Coupons
When planning Thanksgiving, use coupons! I can get a really good deal for Schwan’s delivery in a magazine that I am subscribed to, and what better time to use that than for the holidays? Almost all of my pre-made dishes are bought from Schwan’s. Spending less money on items I was going to buy anyways is a win in my book!
If you haven’t gotten a coupon like this in the mail, you can still save big by shopping for some of your food online. There are many coupon websites like Coupon Sherpa that will give you codes to help you score a few deals. You can also try getting cash back or gift cards through sites like Ebates and Swagbucks.
Shop Ahead Of Time
Another way to saving time and money when planning Thanksgiving is by shopping early. By early, I mean a week or two before Thanksgiving. I refuse to go shopping the day before or on Thanksgiving itself. Not only do stores mark up everything, but you’ll be lucky to find what you need after battling a crowd of people that didn’t have time to shop beforehand.
Remember, as a busy mompreneur, you can find the time in your day to finish another task. Sure, you have to make up that time, but you have the flexibility to get out of the house and grocery shop whenever you want. Use that time wisely and get everything you need for Thanksgiving a little earlier.
Prepare The Day Before
For any dish that I am not buying pre-made, I make them the day before. After my client duties are fulfilled, I jump right into cooking our Thanksgiving meal. By the end of the night, I typically have the mashed potatoes, greens, and meat all cooked and ready to go.
I also have platters made for the night before Thanksgiving that include little sandwiches, veggies, and fruit. Due to the high volume of cooking, I don’t really have the time to cook another meal for my family, but I still want them to have full bellies and nutritious food. Platters are super easy to make, and you can easily customize them for your families needs and how much they eat. Plus, you will only spend around 15-20 minutes assembling them.
Get Help From Thanksgiving Guests
Since our Thanksgiving’s are smaller and more low-key, my family only caters around 4-5 other people besides us. That makes 9 people in total. My mother-in-law helps by bringing her delicious corn casserole, and my one of my sisters-in-law brings the rolls and paper products like plates and napkins.
If you are catering for more than a few people, I highly suggest having more of a potluck style Thanksgiving. You may be the host, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of your resources. Think about it, you are already taking your extended family into your home, cooking and cleaning for them, and most likely allowing a few of them to stay over once Thanksgiving dinner is finished. The least they can do is pitch in and bring a simple side dish or dessert.
Get Help From The Kids
Another great way to shorten your time in the kitchen and bond with your family is to get your kid’s to help you in planning Thanksgiving. If you have little ones like me, you may be hesitant to allow them into the kitchen. They may make a little more of a mess than you, but helping you cook will help boost their self-esteem, establish and grow motor skills, and even give them something fun to do.
I let my three-year-old mash some of the potatoes and help stir the greens. My 17-year-old sister helps chop veggies, clean, and prep the meat. If you have multiple kids, find ways for them to help! They could help cut down your prep and cook time dramatically.
Choose Smarter Meat Choices
Unless you are catering to a huge family, there really is no need to make a huge turkey and ham. I typically buy a small ham, pork loin, or turkey legs for the meat eaters in the family. We still have leftovers, but I know we won’t have to worry about anything going to waste.
Where I live, the smallest turkey you can find is about 15 pounds. So if I wanted to serve it with other meat choices, I would be buying at least 20 pounds of meat that I would have to clean and prepare, only to have a lot of it sit in the fridge untouched. By buying different choices of meat, I save money and time.
(Side note: This post was written back in 2016. We are now a veggie family, so we get to skip this step altogether! If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just want to eat healthier on Thanksgiving, check out this book.)
A great resource to use when planning how much meat to buy is this one. It takes into account how many people you have, and gives a breakdown of how much each serving size should be per person. Plus, you could always tailor it to how much your family eats!
By planning ahead, I typically have a pretty successful Thanksgiving. If you are an entrepreneur, I hope these tips help you from feeling overwhelmed.
Are you planning Thanksgiving for your family this year?