It's that time of year again where we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holiday season. It's also a time for us to take stock of all we have, be grateful, and give thanks. But there is one thing I've noticed about Thanksgiving: it can get expensive! Fortunately, you don't need to break the bank in order to host a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Here are 5 ways you can save money when hosting your own special celebration on Thanksgiving!

Plan your menu ahead of time to save money and avoid buying a bunch of ingredients that you won't use

Planning out your menu before you go shopping can help to avoid buying things that you won't use on Thanksgiving. Use sites such as Pinterest or Supercook, which have great databases of recipes. For example, if you type "butternut squash soup" into the search box, it will offer similar recipes using the same main ingredient.

Planning your meal also allows you to shop around and see what prices are the best for the meal, as well as any promotions or discounts are available.

Shop at grocery stores with coupons, discounts, and specials for holiday food

Pay special attention to coupons you get in the mail a couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving! Retailers will send out coupons to people about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, so be sure to pay attention to these to save money!

Also, be sure to check out your local grocery store's website before Thanksgiving so that you can see what kinds of specials they may have going on leading up to the holiday! Check out Grocery Outlet or other bargain grocery stores for ingredients that you might need that are either non-perishable or you can freeze.

Use recipes that are simple to make - the fewer ingredients in a dish, the less expensive it will be

Here are a few simple recipes to make that won't break the bank:

Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Using a slow cooker to cook a turkey breast is without a doubt the easiest and safest method. It takes only 3 minutes of preparation, then you can just leave it in your slow cooker (crockpot). This is the juiciest turkey breast without brining by far. Cook on low for about 6 hours for a 6 to 7 lb turkey, or for about 9 to 12 hours for a 15 to 21 lb turkey.

Slow cookers are harder to come by for larger birds, so keep that in mind when shopping for one. If you have multiple slow cookers, it may be better to cook multiple turkeys if you plan on having a large gathering for Thanksgiving.

Start by brushing the turkey with avocado or olive oil. Then season with powdered garlic, Himalayan salt, paprika, Lemon Pepper, and lots of dill weed; make sure you completely cover the turkey on all sides and bottom.

Place turkey in the slow cooker and add either 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, depending on the size of crockpot and turkey. You can also add minced garlic, lemon zest, and paprika after the turkey is in the pot.

Then cook for the allotted time needed above! That's it!

Here are other recipe ideas you can try:

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients: 1lb bag Frozen Cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Cook the cranberries in a saucepan on medium low for about 10 minutes, then add remaining ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes until dissolved. Cook on medium high for about 7-10 minutes until the cranberries are fully mushy. Then reduce to low and adjust taste with sugar and salt until preferred flavor is reached. Store in sauce dish in refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also rewarm it before serving.

Also try making your Mashed Potatoes recipe or Stuffed Baked Potato recipe in advance (usually 1-2 days in advance is okay! Just make sure you reheat in oven at 180-200 degrees until ready to serve.)

Ask guests to bring a dish - they'll feel more invested in the meal, plus it will save you money on groceries

Here's a way to help you save money: by asking your guests to bring a side dish, dessert, or beverage. Thanksgiving can often be very expensive and if you were to ask your guests to bring one of the three items above, it could save you a few bucks on your grocery bill.

Asking your guests to bring a side menu item is a great way for them to feel more invested in the meal with their contribution. If you're going with the traditional turkey and all the fixings, having a guest bring a dessert or a flavorful drink or fruit salad can be an excellent addition. It will also provide another enticing option for everyone at the table.

Buy ingredients in bulk during sales or when they're on sale at the grocery store

One of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill is by buying ingredients in bulk. This will not only save you money, but it can also help those who are cost-conscious with how much they spend on things like Thanksgiving dinner. Costco, Walmart, and Winco are great places to buy in bulk. Just make sure you price check to be certain you're getting a better deal. And if you are, then you can always freeze leftovers or send leftovers home with your guests!

Make sure that you shop around and compare the prices for what you want at different stores. If one store offers a sale and another does not, then of course you should buy your items from the store that's on sale.

Furthermore, many grocery stores offer coupons and discounts that can be used before Thanksgiving or if you're planning on hosting a big gathering for Thanksgiving dinner! If it's a smaller gathering, consider alternatives to Turkey, such as baked duck or honey-glazed ham.

In Conclusion

If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, it's important to plan ahead. We've outlined 5 tips that will help take some of the stress out of preparing for your holiday meal and save you money in the process.

Plan your menu beforehand so that you don't buy ingredients or make dishes you won't use; shop at grocery stores with coupons, discounts, and specials on holiday food; ask guests to bring a side dish - they'll feel more invested in the meal if their contribution is requested from them which also saves money on groceries. Finally, try buying ingredients during sales when they are cheaper than usual!

From all of us at Rivermark, have a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving!

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