When family or friends call and ask what they can bring, consider divvying up some of the responsibility. (SHNS photo by Steve Johnson / Flickr)
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Preparing a Thanksgiving feast on a budget

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Q: Since the price of food has increased so much this year, I can only imagine how much it's going to cost to feed my brood Thanksgiving dinner. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could save some money this year?

A: Surprisingly enough, according to a recent article in The Huffington Post, the cost to prepare Thanksgiving dinners will remain steady this year thanks to many retailers who locked in their cost this spring before the drought drove up prices. Nevertheless, why pay more than you have to? Here are some ideas to help you reduce spending.

-- Keep your eyes peeled for coupons. The holiday season is one of the best times to find coupons in the store. Look for booklets, tear pads, blinkies and rebate offers for traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas fare. You can also use our database -- time2saveworkshops.com -- to search for coupons for specific products. Simply type the product name into the database and a list of every available coupon will show.

-- Stock up early and save. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, most traditional Thanksgiving grocery items will go on sale. Think in terms of individual ingredients instead of dishes, and scour your weekly grocery ad for those items. For example, because I know I'll need Cool Whip for pecan pie, I stocked up on it last week when it was on sale and I had a coupon for $0.47. I also stocked up on cheese for green bean casserole for $1 a block. Instead of paying upwards of $9 for two blocks of cheese and two tubs of Cool Whip, I only paid $3.

-- Don't be a turkey -- take advantage of price matching and promotions. Over the next couple of weeks you'll see tons of different promotions and sales for turkey and ham. Pay attention to your weekly store ads to see what kind of incentives your store is offering. You may be able to score a turkey for free just by shopping on certain days or buying qualifying items. One of my local stores is offering a free turkey with a new or transferred prescription or a flu shot.

-- Simplify your menu. Think about your family's favorite Thanksgiving dishes and pare your menu down accordingly. Tons of different dishes translate into additional grocery items and a higher grocery bill.

-- No need to fly solo -- accept help. Take Aunt Sally up on her offer to bring her famous sweet potato casserole. Just because you are hosting this year's Thanksgiving shindig doesn't mean that you can't accept a little help. When family or friends call and ask what they can bring, consider divvying up some of the responsibility. You could cut your expenses considerably.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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