Thanksgiving. Do you experience it as a beautiful holiday devoted to expressing gratitude and praise?
Or does it feel more like an obligation—a day of hard work followed by a few hours of gluttony and then a lot of clean up?
Sometimes it’s hard to get back to the meaning of Thanksgiving when there’s just so much to deal with. So how do you make your Thanksgiving the real deal?
For starters, let’s take some of the financial and emotional stress out of cooking that amazing meal. Yes, the feast is the highlight of the day, so you want it to be good. But it doesn’t have to bust your budget or leave you so frazzled you can’t enjoy yourself and your loved ones.
I checked a few of the most popular grocers to see where the best deals were. Prices vary a bit from state to state (and can even fluctuate day to day), but here are some recent numbers from California for three staple items:
- Costco: organic $2.79/lb, regular $1.19/lb
- Trader Joe’s: regular $1.99/lb
- Whole Foods: $2.69-$5.99/lb (options from regular turkey to pasture-raised, with organic and heirloom priced in between)
- Walmart: frozen ¢85/lb
- Costco: $3.99/2 lb fresh
- Trader Joe’s: $1.99/12 oz fresh
- Whole Foods: $5.99/12 oz fresh organic
- Walmart: canned cranberry sauce $1.38/can (serves 3-4)
- Costco: $2.79/2.4lb bag
- Whole Foods: $3.99/lb
- Trader Joe’s: wide variety ranging from $2.49/8 oz to 2.99/lb for organic
- Walmart: canned only, 50¢/can
If you want fresh ingredients at a reasonable price, Costco is a great choice. And if you’re not a Costco member, Trader Joe’s is a good alternative. If having lots of organic options to choose from trumps budget concerns, then Whole Foods is your place. And at the other end of the spectrum, if you’re making every penny count, getting some ingredients at Walmart might be right for you. (But be careful of pre-packaged foods laden with chemicals and sugar.) Of course, your favorite neighborhood grocer or chain may offer sales that are more enticing than any of these.
Another way to lower spending—and stress—is to limit the dishes you serve. You don’t really need an endless number of foods. Just make the favorites everyone looks forward to. And then ask different people to bring a dish. Everyone will get to contribute, but no one will feel financially or energetically overextended.
If you’re hosting and you have children, get them involved in the preparation. Meal prep time can become as meaningful a tradition as the meal itself. It’s a great opportunity to share laughs, discuss the meaning of the day, and express gratitude for each other.
During the meal, instead of sticking to mindless social chatter, try discussing what you’re grateful about, even giving specific praise to others at the table. If that feels uncomfortable, you can do it internally, silently blessing the people you’re with. They will feel it—and so will you!
And what if you’re not overly concerned about your budget or time but longing to make the day more meaningful?
Think about buying extra food to donate to those who have less. Or consider spending a few hours serving food in a soup kitchen. You’ll see just how much you’ve been blessed and how much you have to give. Now that’s cause for Thanksgiving.
May this be the Thanksgiving that your heart gets even more full than your stomach!
Keep thinking big and living bold!