As we prepare for Thanksgiving in what many people are calling the "worst year ever," it's important to remember this holiday is all about appreciating the blessings in your life. As we gather together with friends and family to celebrate—however small the gathering may be—it's important to remember to keep things in moderation to avoid spending too much. Here are four tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

Factor for Guests

For any gathering, it's important to know how many guests you'll be inviting and who they are. More guests may seem like a higher cost for food, but hosting a potluck-style dinner can work in your financial favor by splitting the cost among all the diners. If you would prefer to cook the entire meal by yourself, try to prepare only enough food for what your guests will eat to avoid wasting food.

Prioritize Food

Consider the foods your guests are likely to eat instead of what a traditional dinner may consist of. Consider dietary restrictions and religious observations when compiling your menu. Once you have an idea of the meal you'll be serving, go through your pantry to see what you already have in stock. Remember to include the cost of beverages, especially alcohol, if you plan on including that in your celebration.

Beat the Rush

The best way to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients to prepare your feast is to get your shopping done as early as possible. Buying food early will ensure you can complete your menu without running into issues with grocery store inventory. This is especially important when you're purchasing the turkey. Spreading out your purchases over time can also mitigate the financial effects of hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Comparison Shop

The fourth of our tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner on a budget is to do some comparison shopping. Putting in the time to get the best prices will allow you to save money. Keep in mind the grocery store might not always be the best option for purchasing ingredients. Local markets will often have better prices than national chain stores for many vegetables traditionally served at Thanksgiving. If you put in the time to find the right local butcher, you might even be able to get your turkey for a discounted rate.

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