Making Ends Meet: Ways to save on your Thanksgiving meal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Everyone is looking for ways to save these days, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, you might be asking yourself what’s more valuable to you: money in your pocket or time with your family.

For those looking to save time (and money), we compared options for pre-made heat and serve Thanksgiving meals at eight restaurants and grocery stores -- and here’s what we found.

Comparing pre-made meals

If you’re feeding a crowd, Bob Evans is the best bang for your buck. It includes turkey and ham, five main sides, two bread options and two pies. It feeds 10 people for $154-$199.

There is one location in Mandarin, so if that’s a little far for you, Cracker Barrel (with its many locations) has a comparable option for the same price, serving the same amount of people.

Cracker Barrel’s meal gets you two turkey breasts, four main sides, rolls -- and again, two pies.

There are also some cheaper options if your group is a little smaller.

Winn Dixie and Publix were among the cheapest we found for a pre-made meal.

At Winn Dixie, you can get a turkey, three main sides, two baguettes, two pies and a 2-liter bottle of a Coca-Cola product for $79-99. It feeds six to eight people.

Just know that you do have to fill out a form and take it to your Winn Dixie deli in person.

Publix’s comparable option includes two main sides, along with marshmallow delight.

Of course, all of the options, come with gravy and cranberries in some form.

Comparing Thanksgiving grocery shopping

But what if you were to buy everything and make it yourself? We crunched the numbers there, and it’s really the way to save money if you have the time.

Here’s how our shopping trips for a simple, easy Thanksgiving for six to 10 people rang up.

We factored in all the ingredients for each side, but opted for boxed stuffing, canned gravy and cranberry sauce.

At Aldi, everything we needed cost about $52 before taxes.

That’s about $10 lower than the pre-tax total at Walmart.

When it comes to Publix, we had to opt for a ham because its turkeys weren’t available yet. That total came out to $94.

It’s important to remember that you can still save on top of these totals with couponing and rebate apps.