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Slash Your Thanksgiving Bills

The same Thanksgiving dilemmas pop up every year, but not this time around. Prepare to seriously slash your bills and reduce stress -- something we can all be thankful for.
CUT DOWN ON YOUR GROCERY BILL
shopping dilemmas

Lasso that runaway grocery tab! Savings pros Teri Gault, founder of thegrocerygame.com, and Stephanie Nelson, founder of couponmom.com, show you how.

Stick with a traditional menu.
Now's not the time to trade in turkey for a rib roast. Gault says prices for Thanksgiving staples hit rock bottom in November, which can add up to 50 percent savings. Frozen turkey often gets sliced down to 42 cents per pound from $1; potatoes drop to 20 cents per pound compared to 45 cents; and green beans can be found for $1 per pound, when they regularly cost about $2. Plus, stuffing mixes and canned pumpkin or cranberry sauce can be bought for a buck or less!

Stalk the newspaper for deals.
"Twice as many manufacturers' coupons are offered during the three weeks before the holiday than at any other time of the year," says Gault. And nearly all of them are stuffed in the Sunday paper.

Milk the supermarket sales for all they're worth!
Stash coupons until the week of Thanksgiving -- which is when they disappear -- as storewide sales will jump by as much as 100 percent. "Combining your stockpile of coupons with in-store sales can save you up to 70 percent on regular prices," says Gault.

Head to dollar stores.
"You can get disposables like aluminum roasting pans and paper goods at a 50 percent savings," says Nelson. She also suggests buying basic pantry needs like chicken broth here, but look out for expiration dates.

Try health food stores.
That's where you can get pricey spices and nuts for up to 85 percent less than in supermarkets, says Nelson. The secret? Buying only the amount you need from bulk bins.

Don't forget drugstores.
Gault advises stocking up on basics like milk and eggs here since they're often priced below cost to attract shoppers and lure them into buying other regular-priced goods.

 
STORE-BOUGHT TIME SAVERS

Will guests be able to tell I'm cheating? Not if you do it right. These time-savers will fool them all.

Ore-Ida's Steam n' Mash Red Potatoes
Save 15 minutes! Just microwave the whole bag for 10 minutes before mashing with your favorite fixings. ($3.69 for a 24-ounce bag, at grocery stores)

Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts
Save 1 hour! A favorite of our test kitchen, this piecrust comes out flaky and tastes homemade. ($3.19 for two 9-inch crusts, at grocery stores)

Libby's Canned Pumpkin
Save 2 hours! Experts agree that making your own pumpkin puree from scratch is messy, time-consuming and completely unnecessary. ($1.59 for a 15-ounce can, at grocery stores)

Unseasoned Stuffing Bread Cubes
Save 3 hours! The seasonings in store-bought stuffing always give away this shortcut! Use unseasoned varieties with any recipe to hide the telltale signs. Supermarket bakeries carry store-brand versions around the holidays.

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