UNITED STATES—I seriously have no idea what it is about the month of November, but it seems like if you blink it flies by. Why? It feels like just a week ago it was Halloween and in less than a week the biggest cooking day of the year, Thanksgiving will be upon us America. So the big question of the hour: are you ready to cook that massive feast? If you’re asking me the answer is no. I feel like 2022 has been a rougher year than 2020, and that was when we were in the midst of a pandemic and financial crisis. What’s the difference? I guess this time around inflation is seriously putting a damper on many people’s budgets America.

The cost of food is way higher than you can imagine and it’s causing people to cut back a bit on the big Turkey day feast. Just last week I went to the grocery store, but if you look inside my fridge you would NOT be able to tell. I mean a bag of romaine hearts that normally cost $3, rose to $9. There was no way in hell I was willing to pay that much money for a bag of lettuce; it was NOT happening people. Within the past month I saw the price of veggies go up more than the cost of meat. What world does that happen?

With inflation being a major issue for 2022, when it comes to Turkey Day there are still ways to save money and not break the bank in the process. Turkey it is the one item that is slated to be on every menu, but not everyone is fan of turkey. So guess what? You can actually save money by purchasing a turkey breast instead. They are a lot cheaper and you won’t find yourself left with a hunk of meat that you don’t plan to eat. If turkey is not your choice, substitute it for chicken, Cornish hens, lamb chops, ham or some other protein that you actually enjoy and fall within your budget. Hint: if you haven’t already purchased your turkey you might want to step on it ASAP.

Once you have that main protein, focus on your sides. The one thing we’re doing in 2022 that we have NOT done in previous years is cutting back on the side dishes. We’re only doing the sides that we know we will eat and that everyone WANTS to eat. Mac and cheese is absolutely on the list, as is dressing, Candied Yams and Greens. Those four are a must, everything else; we’re in the process of figuring out. It looks like string beans will be on the menu, but NOT string bean casserole (not a fan of that dish people).

Sweet potato pie, not pumpkin, and we’re planning to do an Apple pie people, rather homemade or store bought is to be determined. Why? Apples are not cheap, flour is not cheap and butter, jeez God the cost is still rising and driving me crazy in the process and I hate every minute of it. We’re cutting things down on the desert side because the goal for 2022 is to ensure we don’t have a ton of leftovers. Yes, you always want to have some leftovers because the taste people it is so satisfying it is difficult to describe with words.

However, you have to set a budget and stick to it. The time to purchase your groceries for that feast is NOW. Do not wait till the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. First, you’ll be left looking stupid if items you are looking for are not in stock. Second, the supermarkets will be busy, and when I say busy I mean just that, busy. I know the chaos that occurs as a supermarket because I’ve worked at one and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is actually busier than the day before Thanksgiving. Both are busy, but that Tuesday tends to be busier than normal.

Write your list out and try your best to stick to it. Don’t go picking up items because something looks tasty and don’t get creative in the kitchen if you’re never crafted a dish before. This is when mistakes are made and you can find yourself tossing out a ton of food that you screwed over. Start preparation work at least 24-48 hours before Thanksgiving Day. Why? Preparation is the biggest killer for most people. You DO NOT WANT TO BE COOKING ALL DAY ON THANKSGIVING DAY! Your goal is to get as much done in advance so that you can actually enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Use your oven and stove to prepare any dishes in advance that you can. You can always store in the fridge or freeze dishes and then pull them out to thaw and heat up on Thanksgiving Day.

Another helpful tip, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a dish. Why? It cuts down on what you have to cook. Why take on all the stress of cooking if you can have someone who helps you along the way? Trust me as someone who has cooked on Thanksgiving Day after working the day before and the day off, anyway you can save and cut down time it helps a lot.

Written By Jason Jones