Ask Food: Thanksgiving dinner, sliced in price

Q: I'm on a tight budget this year. How can I save money on my Thanksgiving dinner?

A: Store managers know that during the holidays people buy more food than usual, so many major grocery stores have a free-turkey offer with a fairly minimal purchase. Just pick the store that has the turkey you want as a freebie. I haven't paid for a turkey in three years.

If you have a smaller family, consider buying just a turkey breast to roast. If you really want the "full bird" effect, perhaps get a large roasting chicken.

Think outside the box when it comes to turkey leftovers. Try different flavor profiles to spice up what you have on hand. For example, you can make: quick curry turkey salad; turkey tacos with a delicious fresh corn salsa; slow-cooked turkey to BBQ pulled-turkey sandwiches; Chinese turkey salad with mandarin oranges/slivered oranges/red onions/ginger dressing; green Thai turkey with curry paste/basil/coconut milk; or even a cold noodle bowl with turkey/peanut butter/salsa /sesame oil/green onion.

Cranberry sauce: If you actually eat it, splurge and buy the cranberries fresh and make the sauce from scratch. If you don't really eat it, just skip it .

If you can bring yourself to buck tradition and serve something else altogether on Thanksgiving Day, you can load up cheaply on Thanksgiving goodies the day after the holiday. This is a great idea if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday.

Speaking of after-Thanksgiving sales, buy a few nonperishable items right after Thanksgiving for next year if you have the pantry space: canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and canned corn, for example.

Frozen pies: If you are not much of a baker, you're in luck. Frozen pies usually go on sale around the holidays for more than 50 percent off.

Courtesy Melissa d'Arabian on Write Ask Food Network c/o Viewer Services Culinary Department, Scripps Networks, P.O. Box 50970, Knoxville, TN 37950.

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