Cool Ideas

All Things Thanksgiving: Print Grocery Coupons, Try Delicious Dishes & Preview Black Friday Ads!

With just a week left to go, we've got plenty of helpful tips to get a hearty Thanksgiving dinner planned, purchased and cooked. Also, let's not forget about the aftermath: Black Friday deals! Here's how to get organized and save some money.

Thanksgiving Turkey

The Menu
Whether you're the official cook or you're bringing a side dish, plan which recipes you'll follow and what ingredients are needed. Make a list and gather the recipes for your traditional, yearly must-have dishes. Looking to find some new recipes that will turn into annual must-haves? Try swapping recipes with friends who have dishes they swear by. Once your essentials are on the menu, decide what other sides and desserts are still needed. Looking for recipes? Well, you've come to the right place.

Let's talk turkey.
It is the main food attraction, no? Whether you've cooked dozens of turkeys or are planning your first, let's lay out the basics. Read How to Roast a Turkey the Simple Way for important tips on prepping the turkey (prepping is key for getting the turkey a golden brown – think butter!), roasting the turkey, and letting it rest (which is important for keeping it moist!)

Use an oven bag.
When it comes to your turkey, don't be afraid to try new things, within reason. Try cooking your turkey in an oven bag. You'll have a moist turkey without needing to baste it during roasting. This Traditional Holiday Turkey recipe features just a few ingredients – and a Reynolds turkey-size oven bag. Or, this recipe for Herb Roasted Holiday Turkey roasted in a bag brings a hearty flavor to the bird from rosemary, sage and thyme.

Brine your turkey.
If you just asked, “Say what?”, it's easier than it may sound. Brining is soaking meat in a sugar/salt/spice solution to improve the meat's flavor and moisture content. This very simple Herbed Brine recipe is an easy way to try this technique this year. (The Garlic Herb Butter rub is to die for!)

Side Dishes.
A whole separate article could be written about the sides, easily. There are so many great Thanksgiving recipes that, armed with the Internet or some good cookbooks, you’ll truly have to pick and choose. And it’s not easy. To help you make your menu decisions, some tried-and-true recommendations we can provide are Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Save time and stress on Thanksgiving Day by mixing these up a day in advance! Note: Add in a few cloves of garlic.) and Classic Green Bean Casserole (a Turkey Day staple). Will you have kids in attendance? This Baked Macaroni and Cheese will be a hit with them.

Thanksgiving Desserts

Pies are another Thanksgiving staple and their beauty is they can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until your guests are ready to dig in. Check out our Fall Desserts page for some great recipes including Pumpkin Pie. Also consider a No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Dessert which is a sweeter alternative which the kids will surely enjoy. Consider spoiling your guests by making Taste of Home's Chocolate Pecan Pie which is to die for! If you have the time to whip up a couple of pies the day before Thanksgiving, then on the big day at dessert time all you'll have to do is pull them out of the fridge and watch them get devoured. Don't forget the Rheddi Whip!

Grocery Shopping
  • Take inventory and make a list. Note what you already have on hand and what you'll need to buy. Don't skip that step! There's many a dollar to potentially be saved here! Then, come up with an organized shopping list. Cross-check the list against your recipes. Double check and then triple check. This will help avoid any stressful, hurried last-minute trips to the grocery store for forgotten items. (Do you think anyone really wants to be setting foot in the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving?)
  • Find out what's on sale and where. Check out last Sunday's (or this coming Sunday's) newspaper ads for what's on sale and where. Do you have time to visit more than one store so you can get the best deals on different items? Go for it!
  • Clip and print coupons. Be sure to look through the Sunday paper coupon inserts. And don't forget to visit CoolSavings' Grocery Coupons page for plenty of printable coupons for staple ingredients such as Bob Evans Sausage, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Pillsbury Dinner Rolls, Welch's Sparkling Juice, Chinet napkins – and more.
  • Prep in advance. Do any possible prep work 1-2 days before the big day. Pies can be made ahead of time, vegetables can be chopped, mashed potatoes can be mixed, and so on. When the day comes, you'll be thankful for anything you did in advance to lighten your load.
  • Thanksgiving Family Cooking
  • Enlist help. Is your spouse ready and willing to help, or are your kids? Don't deny them! Put them off in a corner to help mix or chop things. This could shave many minutes (or hours?) off your busy prepping time!
  • Make a list for cooking the sides. At some point when your turkey is busy roasting, you'll need to put your side dishes into the oven. Make a list ahead of time of which dishes need to be put into the oven and when. If you time this properly, everything will be nice and warm when everyone sits down to eat. Be sure to make use of hot plates if you need to keep something warm.

Getting Organized
Think about next year: Here at CoolSavings, we're big believers in being organized to save both time and money. If you're the Thanksgiving hostess each year, keep a journal notebook to record anything your encounter this year that will help save you time, money or sanity next time around. If cooking a particular side dish didn't go well, write that down and why. If someone raved about your sweet potato casserole, write that down so you'll be sure to make it again in the future.

Keep it Fun for the Kids
If you're looking for something fun activities to keep the kids occupied while you work away on Thanksgiving dinner, print out some fun Thanksgiving Coloring Pages. They'll enjoy this Thanksgiving Activity Placemat. Have them print and color these Turkey Placemats to put on the table.

Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday
When dinner is eaten, leftovers are put away and the guests have gone home, now the real fun can begin! That's Black Friday, of course! Preview Best Buy's Black Friday doorbusters and Sam's Club's "More Joy for your Jingle" Black Friday ad. Lowes' Black Friday ad is available on Facebook to those who click "Like" and download the app. Check out DealNews' pages listing Black Friday ads for Kohl's, Costco, Gamestop, Amazon, Sears, and JCPenney.

Happy Shopping! Visit our CoolSavings Community where you can post about any great Black Friday (or Cyber Monday!) deals you find.