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Extension Education Highlight: Thanksgiving budget tips

Man holding a cooked turkey
Man holding a cooked turkey

Shalayne Smith-Needham: First, explain what's going on across turkey farms, and why does this affect our traditional Thanksgiving feast?

Kathy Riggs: Basically, what has been happening, and it's happened in Utah before. But the avian flu has hit our poultry farmers very hard this year. And they're not out of the woods yet. Last month, it was estimated that about 23% of the turkeys throughout the state have been hit with avian flu. And what that means is that the farmers will have to get rid of those turkeys and they are out all of that product as well as the consumer on the other end.

Shalayne Smith-Needham: Well, what are some ways we can modify or simplify our meals?

Kathy Riggs: That's a great question. We may not be able to afford a turkey for use to this time of year. So, there are just a few tips to help save time and, and of course, the funds that you usually would spend on Thanksgiving traditionally.

One is just to simplify. One of the best ideas I have come across is that we call Thanksgiving dinner a feast, which it usually is in most homes. But if there are too many options on the table that you can't put everything on your plate at one time, you might have to rethink that and say maybe we don't need all of these things. And as a family, come up with some ideas of how to simplify that, and not have all of the trimmings, I guess as a way to describe those, that we're used to having.

Shalayne Smith-Needham: You mentioned affordability. Inflation also continues to be a concern; what are some tips to help us make some adjustments this year?

Kathy Riggs: One of the best things people can do is just to be smart when you go into a grocery store. Having a list is promoted as a way of saving money. It is a tried-and-true method of saving money. Keep to your list. Don't be distracted.

One of the things that I love to tell people is when you go grocery shopping this time of year, everything looks good. And the stores do a really good job of promoting their products. But if you can be strong, that's great if you're in the store by yourself. But you've got to be sure to leave behind those distractions, which can be small children who might be grabbing things, or another member of the family, a spouse or a partner that is more impulsive.

So, you have the plan, and you stick to your plan. And that will save you some money along with using any coupons that are sent out online or to the mail. Those are really great if those are things you're going to use. And you would use them on a regular basis anyway.

Shalayne Smith-Needham: As we head into this Thanksgiving holiday season, and maybe considering some new or modified traditions, what are some ways to keep the tradition of gratitude?

Kathy Riggs: Okay, that's a great question as well. I think if we forget about the whole reasoning behind the holiday, it's easy for us to forget that being grateful and showing kindness to others. It's very easy around a table full of food and good people where the conversation is lively. Just keep the conversation positive.

And it's great too if parents in the family or grandparents can encourage some kind of service to take place. Make it a tradition to reach out to others and show some kindness whether that's sharing a pumpkin pie or taking a plate of hot food over to someone who doesn't have family nearby. Just those ways of bringing in more to the meal than just the meal itself I think helps us remember the importance of thanksgiving. And it will be either patience that you're carrying on, or you can create those new traditions of reaching out to others.

Shalayne Smith Needham has worked at Utah Public Radio since 2000 as producer of Access Utah. She graduated from Utah State University in 1997 with a BA in Sociology, emphasis on Criminology. A Logan native, she grew up with an appreciation for the great outdoors and spends her free time photographing the Western landscape and its wildlife.