Supermarket Tips, Strategies, and Secrets for Thanksgiving Dinner Shopping Gallery

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Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is a lot more complicated than just throwing a dinner party. Instead of coming up with your own menu based on your skill level (spaghetti and garlic bread!), you have to stick to a specific set of guidelines and serve more or less a set menu: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, pies, and usually a few extra appetizers and side dishes. We'll admit that it's not easy, but we've assembled 13 tips and tricks to keep in mind as you plan your feast.

The absolute most important thing to do in this situation is to plan ahead. If you start your Thanksgiving planning a week in advance, you'll have more than enough time to have a clear head and a fully stocked fridge come Turkey Day. It's also important to realize that you don't need to go overboard. Nobody's going to panic if there's no deviled eggs, and if you're completely in over your head, don't be afraid to ask your guests to ease your burden by bringing some dishes of their own.

Thanksgiving should be a time to sit down with loved ones over a bountiful dinner and give thanks for all the good things in our lives. And even if you're hosting, you should be able to enjoy the day and meal just as much as your guests. So plan ahead, pay attention to these 13 tips, and you'll be just fine.


Plan Far In Advance

Give yourself at least a week to plan your menu. Figure out exactly how much food you're going to need, talk to your guests about bringing dishes of their own if you're going that route, and give yourself plenty of time to stock up.



Clear Out Your Fridge

It can be incredibly annoying to return home with a trunkful of groceries only to find that you have nowhere to put them. Make sure there's plenty of room in your fridge and pantry before you leave the house.



Make More Than One List, and More Than One Trip

Plan on going to the supermarket at least twice, and make a separate list for both trips. The first trip can be a week or more in advance, and should be when you purchase non-perishables like canned goods. The second trip should be a couple days before the holiday, when you purchase perishable items like vegetables.



Check Out the Circulars and Compare Prices

Do your research before heading to the supermarket. Visit your local supermarkets' websites to see if they're offering any deals, and scan the circulars and newspapers for any appropriate coupons.



Shop Early in the Morning or Late at Night

Supermarkets can get packed, especially around Thanksgiving. The best times to visit the supermarket to avoid crowds are early in the morning right when it opens, at night after the post-work rush, and on Friday and Saturday nights.



Be Flexible With Your List

Plan all your recipes in advance, and make sure that every item you need is on your list. But it's not set in stone, so don't be afraid to make some on-the-fly changes, especially when it comes to prices. If you're shopping and realize that you've bitten off far more than you can chew, don't be afraid to swap a dish for a pre-made version or scuttle it altogether.



Check Off List Items as You Buy Them

The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of a crowded supermarket is digging through your cart to make sure you already grabbed sage, and it's also frustrating to get home and realize you've bought something twice. As you put something into your cart, check it off your list.



Stick to a Budget

They say not to do your grocery shopping hungry for a reason: Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. While Thanksgiving grocery shopping, it's easy to go overboard with all the extra additions and trimmings. Set aside a specific (and realistic) amount of money, and stick to it. The bill can add up a lot faster than you think.



Don't Buy a Whole Extra Turkey

In general, it's suggested that you budget about one and a half to two pounds of turkey per guest. A lot of people will simply buy two turkeys to make sure they have enough, but you don't want to be saddled with an entire uneaten turkey! Don't forget that there's an alternative to buying a whole extra turkey: Just buy an extra turkey breast. This way you'll save money and will guarantee that everyone gets enough.



Buy Prepared Items Only as a Last Resort

If you're looking to save money, a good rule of thumb is that preparing something from scratch is always less expensive than buying it pre-made. Side dishes at the deli counter are always significantly marked up, and even frozen pies cost more than the raw materials. But if you're feeling overwhelmed and want the peace of mind, spring for it.



Go Generic

Another way to save money is to buy the generic or store brands. Trust us, your guests won't know the difference.



Buy Tupperware

There are going to be leftovers, so prepare accordingly, and check out this handy guide to how long Thanksgiving leftovers stay fresh for.



Buy a Little More Than You Think You'll Need

It's going to be a little bit more expensive, but buy just a little bit more of everything than you think you'll need. You don't want to run out of butter while making those pie crusts, or run out of cranberry sauce before everyone's gotten some. And when it comes time to start cooking, you can't go wrong with these easy Thanksgiving recipes.

More From The Daily Meal:

101 Best Thanksgiving Recipes

The Essential Thanksgiving Countdown Planning Guide

Every Thanksgiving Side Dish You'll Ever Need

How to Prep for Your Easiest Thanksgiving Yet

10 Thanksgiving Dishes You Should Just Buy at the Store


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