We’ve been hearing about it for months now: grocery store prices are on the rise. To make matters worse, we’re headed into the season where many are looking to bring home a full haul so they can make a masterpiece of a feast. Hoping to alleviate some of the stress behind whipping up that Thanksgiving meal, a few Food Network Test Kitchen staffers put together a list of budget-saving tips for the holiday. As with any expert-informed tips, some of these work, and some just miss the mark for me.
The first and most obvious tip is to buy the essentials early. (If you’re not sure where to start, our pal Claire Lower wrote a great guide on Lifehacker.) Getting your canned goods, spices, and other nonperishables ahead of time makes perfect sense. This won’t change the actual price of these goods, but it will help you avoid the chaotic holiday shopping scene. Even pre-pandemic, crowded grocery stores gave me anxiety—so any way to bypass that sounds good to me.
The Test Kitchen staffers also suggest buying generic over name brands when it comes to canned items. That’s another thumbs up for me. If your sugar, broth, or canned veggies are getting mixed up in a dish with other ingredients, I doubt you’ll taste a major difference. Plus, you’ll save some money.
The Food Network staffers did take a bit of a left turn with some of the other tips on the list. For starters, they suggest using fresh squash for pie making rather than canned pumpkin. I rarely refer to myself as a traditionalist, but in the case of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I’m not planning on employing this tip. “In place of canned pumpkin, both red kuri squash and kabocha squash, roasted, skinned and pureed, make excellent pies,” writes Alexis Pisciotta, purchasing and events manager for the Food Network Test Kitchen. “In fact, some would argue they are even better!” Who are these “some” that would argue that? I want to meet them.