Monday, November 15, 2010

(Updated) Frugalista Wants Thanksgiving Dinner for 6--for $1.00

From AOL News. For the record, he uses lots of coupon maneuvers, BOGO offers, and other tricks to come near his goal.

"A professional "frugalista" is attempting what may be his biggest challenge yet: purchasing a complete Thanksgiving dinner for six people for less than $1 -- total.

Jeffrey Strain writes about ways to save cash at Grocery Coupon Guide, and he was inspired to do his cheapskate challenge after attempting a similar effort he calls "the penny experiment."

"Last year, I found a penny and picked it up and some teenagers nearby laughed at me for doing it," Strain told AOL News. "I started thinking about whether it was possible to turn this penny into $1 million for food banks.

"In the process of doing that, I learned how to 'super coupon' and, at one point, bragged to my sister that I could eat on less than a dollar a day."


"In fact, starting in May, he survived for 100 days on a dollar a day or less.

"Using coupons, I actually bought $1,400 worth of food for $76," he said.

Much of the food was donated to food banks, but Strain said he was able to eat quite well for that measly sum.

"I ate very well: fruits, veggies and whole-grain bread," he said."

Notice he didn't mention meat, dairy, fats, sweets, or drinks. My Food Stamp Challenge (down toward the bottom) mentions that most of the world doesn't eat this stuff either until they start making money.

"Strain was justifiably proud of his penny-pinching penny experiment, but when he bragged that he could probably use what he had learned to purchase a complete Thanksgiving dinner for six for $6, his little sister couldn't help but issue another dare.

"She challenged me to do it, but told me I had to do it for a dollar or less," he said. "We dare each other all the time. I got her to do a marathon one time. However, she's married and has kids these days so I end up doing most of the dares."


"He's off to a good start. About 10 days ago, he managed to get free stuffing and gravy after he found a coupon at Safeway offering $5 off his next purchase.

Still, he wasn't quite as happy as he would have ordinarily been. Because the coupon was about to expire, he spent $2 a box on the stuffing and was unable to buy it at Target, where it was only 25 cents a box.

Also, using coupons, Strain was not only able to get the Pillsbury rolls he needed for his dinner, but he managed to get 120 of them for free -- a value of around $238.

Now, he's set his sights on nabbing a free turkey and hopes to take advantage of a promotion that offers a free turkey in exchange for buying $100 worth of food."


"I hope to use coupons to get the $100 worth of groceries for free and the turkey on top of it," he said. "Of course, some places offer free turkeys if you, say, take a test drive in one of their cars, so that's an option too."

It might sound like Strain is a big coupon buff, but he actually hates it.

"I'm not one of those people who spends hours organizing," he said. "I just grab as many coupon inserts as I can from leftover newspapers at the coffee shops in my neighborhood. Also, Tuesday is recycling night so I can find them near Dumpsters as well. Plus, don't forget, stores have coupons as well."

It all depends on how elaborate you want to get with tradition--I got a stark reminder while living in Italy that the U.S. is THE ONLY COUNTRY THAT CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING, so sales on turkeys were restricted to the military commissary, as were pretty much all the rest of the dinner stuff, and about 350 families were expected to celebrate on the commissary's meager supply rations. This made me ponder a few things:

Does it HAVE to be turkey? Does it have to be THE WHOLE turkey?

Must it be stuffed, or can a stuffing-like side dish be substituted?

How many vegetables have to be served on the side? Can it be just one?

Where am I going to put all the leftovers? My "Italian" fridge was the size of a kiddie Fisher-Price fridge.

What about rolls--will there be enough due to military family competition?

Lastly, what about the major expense in energy costs? Italy doesn't have time-of-use off-peak hours like the U.S. does in places.

We ended up doing the following: turkey thighs, a wild rice/cornbread/sausage stuffing on the side (the cornbread doubled as our rolls), a multi-veggie salad, and individual refrigerated crustless pumpkin custards. Less cooking (less energy costs), fewer dirty dishes (which meant less energy costs from a tankless hot water heater and water usage), and a just-as-satisfying meal. Nobody got lethargic afterward, and we cleared the table for some card games.

In these lean times, can we really afford to go whole hog on one day of the year that's nothing to the rest of the world? Maybe we need to unplug the Thanksgiving Machine as well as the Christmas Machine.

UPDATE: Do you see he's actually spending MORE just to get those freebies and discounts? Sure, he may get A SINGLE Thanksgiving dinner for $1.00, but it cost him many more dollars and many more product purchases to get that $1.00 dinner!

If you want a heavily-discounted dinner, check this out. If you adjust your definition of Thanksgiving dinner, you can get it free.

The Holiday Dinner Ripoff Series is a prime example of how you think you're getting a bargain, only to have to spend $270 dollars total over 6 weeks for that $15 coupon, or spend an additional $25 for that reduced per-pound price of the turkey.

What would Wenchypoo do: buy your holiday fixings AFTER the holidays, when they're bound to be cheaper. They have a long shelf life, so they aren't going bad any time soon (grab the ones in the back of the row--they're newest). As for the turkey, plan on paying full price, but that's all right--the money you saved on the rest of it will make up the difference.

Another idea: don't buy the whole turkey, but just buy turkey parts (like the legs, a breast roll, or the thighs)--they're the same price all year round, have less waste, and less worry about leftovers. Besides, just how much meat could you possibly be buying when you factor in waste (bones and fat), ice, and hollow cavities? Turkey parts have little to none of those--you actually get MEAT for your money!


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