Money saving tips for Thanksgiving

SAN FRANCISCO Here in the Bay Area, our Thanksgiving is more expensive than everywhere else. The Associated Press did a survey of six cities and the most expensive groceries for a Thanksgiving dinner came from Berkeley and Oakland. So that means we have to work a little bit harder to find ways to save money.

Annie Ferme is putting the finishing touches on her thanksgiving meal.

"There's the mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, gravy and biscuits. Five things you don't have to deal with on Thanksgiving," said Annie Ferme, Dream Dinner customer.

She made all of her side dishes at the Meal Assembly Store Dream Dinners. Customers here are not only saving time -- but also money.

"So for this recipe it called for a cup of grated cheese; you can't buy a cup of grated cheese at the store, you have to buy a whole bag and have leftovers. Here you get exactly what you need," said Michelle Rout, Dream Dinner customer.

The Thanksgiving side dishes here cost $40. Buying the ingredients for these dishes at the grocery store would cost, on average, $16.

"Plus you're not doing all the impulse buying at the store also - so that helps," said Rout.

If you do decide to buy your own ingredients and do your own cooking at home - don't do a thing without a plan. A failure to plan is a plan to spend more money than necessary. Other money saving tips include brine your turkey. This will help a regular grocery store bird taste like an expensive one.

Use a Thanksgiving calculator to figure out how much to buy for your guests.

Get the kids to make your table decorations rather than buying them at a party store. Don't worry - you aren't the only one with money on the mind this holiday season.

"Used to be most of the reason people talked about being here was either time or they didn't like to cook - those were our two big things and now definitely money. I mean way more than they used to people will say 'Oh I looked at beef the other day and this is what this would have cost this at the store.' People are definitely more cognizant of it," said Jill Jacobson, Dream Dinner owner.

No need to stop at Thanksgiving. Black Friday kicks off the shopping season and you can really save some money if you're armed with information. You can get a jump on the deals and a sneak peak at the newspaper ads at


  • Don't do a thing - from grocery shopping to gift buying - without a plan.

  • Make lists, keep spreadsheets or download the Holiday Control Journal at She covers everything from getting (and keeping) the house clean, to creating a timetable for sending gifts during December so you won't waste money on last-minute rush jobs.

  • Brine your bird.
  • Put the kids to work on decorations.
  • Don't waste money at the party store on tissue-paper turkeys and leaves. Keep the kids busy making centerpieces and place cards. Have children make a hand-print turkey and write what they're thankful for in the "feathers." For more ideas, go to

  • Know how much food to buy for your guests.
  • Download the Thanksgiving calculator at to make a customized shopping list based on your number of guests. You can even factor in how many leftovers you'd like.

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