Spend Management on Turkey Day — Time is the Most Valuable Ingredient

Since this is Thanksgiving week, I'd like to share some thoughts on frugality when it comes to preparing the holiday meal -- a total cost perspective if you will. Saving money and finding the best buys are on everyone's mind these days. But before you slash the cost of Thanksgiving dinner to the bone, consider the big picture -- including a happy festive time with friends and family that occurs far too infrequently for most of us.

As the head chef in my household, I typically find that at the end of a holiday meal that I've had far too little time with our guests. The remedy for this has two components: 1) plan some dishes and ingredients that can be mostly prepared in advance and 2) involve your guests in the process -- permitting others to "give" is as important as being thankful for what we have. When friends and family ask what they can bring, suggest a side-dish or appetizer. And when it comes time to toss, chop, and mix last minute preparations and deliver to the table, don't even try to do it solo -- ask for volunteers. Being involved in the process is rewarding for everyone, especially children.

And so far as saving $$ on raw materials is concerned -- food cost as it's called in the restaurant biz -- don't be obsessive. Fresh always tastes best and all local food purveyors are running specials. This is also a time to be thankful for your local privately owned produce and meat markets -- support them and they'll still be there when the recession is over.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I'll offer up more specific tips on holiday fare that won't break your time or food budgets.

William Busch

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