Don’t go overboard with your Thanksgiving meal

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Thanksgiving is such an amazing time of year. It’s the day solely dedicated to being thankful.

This will be our first Thanksgiving as a family of four, and I could not be more thankful to have our little girl with us this year!

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house, and in my mind there will be family members gathered around our table, enjoying yummy food and warm conversation as they all wear matching, autumnal-hued sweaters. And our children will be on their best behavior.

Honestly, though, we all know that’s just the image in my head. In reality, it will probably be more like the guys sneaking peaks at the game in the living room, and toddlers running around the table screaming.

Either way, Thanksgiving is a time to gather and eat delicious food with loved ones. But there’s a nasty flip side to this pretty picture. If your family was selected to play host to this year’s big meal, you’ll likely be spending a pretty penny on the festivities. To keep you from having a panic attack before the bird’s even in the oven, here are a few ways to save money on that Thanksgiving Dinner.

You absolutely do not have to have certain items on your table in order to make it a “proper” Thanksgiving meal. If no one ever eats the sweet potatoes, even though they are “traditional,” why bother serving them? If the green bean casserole goes largely untouched year after year, maybe it’s time to retire it from the menu.

You also don’t need to go gourmet. Thanksgiving is all about good, simple down-home cooking. If everyone in your family prefers the canned cranberry sauce that comes out can-shaped, why go all out making a fancy version that costs more and takes more time? Give the people what they like.

Another great way to save is to serve seasonal foods. If you are like me and had rather have fresh produce, look and see what is seasonal for this time of year. Seasonal produce that’s in season, most of the time, is fresher and cheaper. There is nothing better than fresh butternut squash to go with your turkey.

The turkey isn’t the only thing that gets stuffed on Thanksgiving. Most people have a tendency to put more food on their plates than they need. This results in wasted food that could be put to better use. Instead, opt for smaller dinner plates to curb your guests’ tendency to overindulge; chances are they won’t notice the difference.

I know in our family we use cute paper plates for our Thanksgiving meal because who wants to spend hours cleaning up after you have cooked all day? I know it seems like a weird concept. The coupon queen telling you to buy plates when I know you have perfectly good dishes in your home, but we all have our lines drawn.

When you purchase the plates opt for the medium-size plates instead of the large. You will be surprised at how little food is wasted, but if anyone does want more they can always make that second trip.

Remember, Thanksgiving is all about celebrating with friends and family and being grateful for all the blessings in your life. It shouldn’t be about cooking “the perfect meal” or having “the perfect house” when everyone comes over. Doing that does nothing but run you ragged.

Relax and have fun with Thanksgiving this year. It doesn’t have to be perfect! And the more you plan in advance, the more you’re going to end up saving.

Happy Thanksgiving!