NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Thanksgiving. The most expensive meal of the year, by far! With a growing grocery list that can expand to more than 100 items, make sure you cut all the corners you can for a thrifty Thanksgiving.

Not sure how to do that and still enjoy Turkey Day? Gobble up these tips:

The Colder the Turkey the Better

Buy a frozen turkey to save money. Often a frozen turkey can be 10% to 40% cheaper than the refrigerated counterparts. Make sure you give your turkey enough time to thaw in the refrigerator.

Thrift Tip: Give your kids a head's up about your purchase, and they can turn the thawing out of the turkey into an extra credit project for their science class.

Bigger the Turkey the Better

Buy a big turkey for a cheaper cost at bulk. Have the butcher cut the turkey in half and wrap into two separate pieces. Eat the first half during Thanksgiving and save the second half for the next holiday.

Thrift Tip: Call around to local butchers for the best deal instead of driving and wasting gas.

Free Meat Philosophy

Many stores have holiday promotions that a free ham or turkey when you purchase a certain dollar amount of groceries. If the store offers a free ham or turkey with the standard $50 or $100 purchase, only buy the minimum dollar amount required. Then go to another store with a similar offer and spend that minimum to get the other free meat item. As we know, the meat is the most expensive part of the dinner, so saving money is a must!

Thrift Tip: Freeze leftover prepared plates of ham and turkey early in the holiday season.

Renting Not Required

TST Recommends

NEVER rent chairs and tables for your Thanksgiving feast; you might as well put your wallet in the oven along with the turkey! Always borrow from family and friends, preferably from those attending the dinner. Instead of menu items, assign certain people to bring chairs and tables, and let them know that part of their responsibility is to arrive earlier than others. Always have extra chairs available for last-minute guests.

Thrift Tip: A good rule of thumb is to have 25% more chairs than expected guests, so if you are expecting a Thanksgiving dinner for eight, have a supply of ten chairs.

Dollar-Saving Decorations

Use flowers and plant leaves from your yard for Thanksgiving dinner decorations. Rinse any plants well and place in a bag when first removed to allow any bugs to crawl out. If you live in an apartment or condo, you can buy small potted plants from your local dollar store and use wrapping paper to wrap around the pots to add to the ambiance.

Thrift Tip: The small potted plants also make for great parting gifts for guests.

Flexible Fruits

Fruit is one of the most valuable and versatile objects during the Thanksgiving holiday. It can be used as a cheap colorful decoration that is easy on the eyes, but it also can be used as a gift that is easy for the kids to help wrap or decorate. Finally, it can also be used as an appetizer to quiet the hungry mouths in the hours leading up to Thanksgiving dinner.

Thrift Tip: Use leftover apples to make a holiday apple pie while leftover oranges can be used to help treat pesky winter colds.

Baking that Saves Bread

Bragging rights for best cook is an informal tradition in most households, so save yourself the entire expense of paying for dessert by hosting a baking competition for visitors. This makes them feel like a significant part of the Thanksgiving dinner experience, while saving money and providing anticipation after dinner. Pies, cobblers, cookies and cakes are all welcomed in this supper for the sweet tooth!

Thrift Tip: As host, request that you get at least one portion of each dessert that you can freeze for family desserts after the holidays are over.

About the Author:

Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford, APR is a freelance writer based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He covers casino gaming, personal finance and real estate topics for several publications. He can be reached at