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How to Save Money on Your Thanksgiving Meal

Use these strategies to lower the cost of turkey and all the fixings.

This year, Americans can be thankful that the cost of preparing a Thanksgiving meal will take a smaller bite out of their wallets. The average price of a feast for ten will be $49.04 this year versus $49.48 in 2012, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's informal price survey of items typically served for Thanksgiving dinner.

Admittedly, the price drop is small -- but if you pair it with other money-saving strategies, you can significanlty lower the cost of a Thanksgiving meal. Here's how:

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Look for special turkey sales and promotions. The turkey is the priciest item, by far, on the table at Thanksgiving. The American Farm Bureau Federation found that a 16-pound turkey costs $21.76, on average, this year. But there are ways to get one for less. Some grocery stores, such as ShopRite, are running promotions that allow customers with the store's club or rewards card to get a free turkey after spending a certain amount during the weeks before Thanksgiving. Waiting until the last minute to buy a turkey also might help you get it at a bargain price, according to AFBF.

Save on all the fixings. Manufacturers often release coupons for Thanksgiving-related food items and grocery stores often have sales on popular feast ingredients. To make sure you're getting the best deal, you can use a free mobile app such as Favado app (iPhone, Android). It lets you compare deals at local stores, find coupons and search for the lowest prices on the items you need. For more tips to keep costs down, see 10 Ways to Save on Groceries Without Coupons.

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Don't go overboard. Leftovers are common at many Thanksgiving gatherings. So unless you really enjoy scouring cookbooks or recipe sites to find creative ways to use all that turkey and stuffing that wasn't consumed, you'll save money by buying only enough to feed each guest with just a little left over for seconds. Butterball has a portion calculator to help you figure out what size turkey to buy based on the number of adults and kids you'll be serving, whether they're big or light eaters and whether you want leftovers.

Make it potluck. Rather than foot the entire bill for your feast, ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert. Based on the AFBF figures, you'll cut your costs by more than 50% if you just spring for the turkey.

Don't let wine bust your budget. You don't have to spend a fortune to serve good wine with your Thanksgiving meal. For example, you can find good prices on wine at warehouse clubs such as Costco. If you buy several bottles at a wine or liquor store, ask about a discount for buying in bulk. Usually you can get up to 15% off the price on purchases of six or 12 bottles. For more tips, see How to Save Money on Wine.

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