There’s no need for a turkey to gobble up a big part of your Thanksgiving budget.
Frozen turkey prices currently average $1.66 per pound, up from $1.59 last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s roughly a buck more for a 15-pound turkey—not a deal-breaker by any means.
Plus, turkey prices often dip before Thanksgiving when a glut of the birds hit the market.
Smart shoppers can save even more by using the right combo of tactics:
Score a free bird
“See if your grocery store will be offering a turkey rewards promotion,” says Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal.com.
Some offer a free bird to loyalty club members who have spent a certain amount with the store in recent months.
For example, some Shop Rite locations give members a free turkey, ham, turkey breast, Kosher chicken, lasagna or Tofurky when they spend $400 between Oct. 20 and Nov. 28.
It can be half the price of a fresh turkey, says Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com. “A frozen bird tastes the same,” she says.
Just make sure to buy early enough to allow it to defrost fully. Putting a still-frozen bird in the oven spells trouble.
“Weigh the costs and values of either dining out or purchasing an already made traditional Thanksgiving meal,” says Lal.
Last year, Costco offered a pre-boxed meal for eight people, for $80. Restaurants, supermarkets and grocery delivery services may also have take-home meals for purchase.
Peruse supermarket circulars in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.
“A good sale on turkey should be half off the regular price,” says Teri Gault, founder of TheGroceryGame.com.
“Determine how much turkey you really need,” Lal says.
“With a small family or no interest in leftovers that will linger for days in your refrigerator, you could save by buying a turkey breast or two instead of an entire bird. This will also save you time cooking it,” she adds.
Check for brand coupons
A spokesperson for Butterball says the company will have a coupon on its Facebook page the week before Thanksgiving, as well as other offers on Butterball.com.
Perdue and Shady Brook Farms, among others, also offer coupons through their web sites and email newsletters.
Sometimes there’s cross-promotion with other items, too.
Some Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines have neck hangers offering instant $1.50 coupons or mail-in rebates for $3 on a Butterball turkey or turkey breast.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.