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Weekly Diet News Digest

by John McGran, Columnist

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During this season of belt-tightening, it wouldn’t be prudent to overspend on a holiday feast for you, your family and your friends.

There is good economic news: you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy a lot of good times with the people and the foods you love!

This year, when planning for your Thanksgiving feast, take into account how many people you need to buy for -- and what their favorite foods and least-favorite foods are!

And remember, leftovers are good... but thrown-away food is not.

The Super 7 Money-Saving Tips

#1 Don’t Supersize the Main Dish
Be sure to buy the right size turkey, ham or duck. You’re not feeding an army -- it only seems that way! A 10-pound turkey will do just fine for four people… and you will have a little left over for later. Worried about presentation? Add garnishes to the outside of your large serving platter to make your main course look fuller. Surround it with a ring of dressing or roasted potatoes â€"- or both!

#2 Downscale the Sides
There’s no point making an exotic side dish that appeals only to Crazy Uncle Ed. Stick to the basics: stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, rolls, and some sort of veggie casserole (think green beans or broccoli) â€"- or take a survey to get the menu the dinner guests want to eat! The fancy stuff costs more and usually gets eaten less. When shopping for the veggies, buy what’s cheapest: fresh, frozen or canned.

#3 Serve Appetizers
Pre-meal munchies keep the natives from getting restless. Set out trays of meats and cheeses, or veggies and dips. Let them wash it down with a simple punch. By giving them a head start on food, they’ll eat less of the main course â€"- and that means you can buy less. It doesn't cost much to put together your own trays or purchase them pre-made. If you need one that is pre-made, make sure that you order it in ahead.

#4 Borrow Rather Than Buy
Don't have a roasting pan or need an extra casserole dish or pie pan? Knock on a neighbor’s door or ask a friend or relative if you can borrow what you need. Odds are someone has the extra stuff around â€" in my case, it’s usually my mother-in-law! You’ll be thankful you didn’t buy something you’ll use once a year.

#5 Cook From Scratch
Sure those ready-made mashed potatoes, stuffings and desserts save time. But most will cost you extra money! Cooking from scratch always saves money because the basics are a lot cheaper than pre-made food or mixes, which are often highly processed and less nutritious.

#6 Chill Out With a Frozen Turkey
Skip the fresh, smoked, roasted or pre-braised varieties of turkey -- the cheapest bird is a frozen one. Cooking a frozen turkey isn't any tougher… not when you allow yourself enough time to thaw it out thoroughly.

#7 Save Dough On Day-Old Bread
Buy your bread for stuffing and your rolls for buttering at a bakery outlet that sells products nearing their “best if used by” expiration date. These outlets also sell fresher foods that come in damaged or misprinted packaging. Your dinner guests will never know the difference!

@ 11:23am ET on December 1, 2014
Great tips. Thanks.

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