You may think it’s impossible to have a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner, but I’m going to surprise you. You may even believe that trying to be frugal for Thanksgiving will mean you’re being cheap. I plan to show you, though, that there are many ways to make a low-cost holiday meal that still feels like a great celebration. Your family won’t even notice that you’re cutting costs when you celebrate this way.
When people think of Thanksgiving, they don’t usually think of a holiday that is budget-friendly. Holidays are expensive as a whole, and usually, with Thanksgiving, there are a lot of details that quickly add up. Today you’ll find several tips and tricks that will help you save money on Thanksgiving without giving it up altogether.
7 Steps to a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner
1. Choose a Frugal Main Dish
Some people make fancy things for Thanksgiving, like a goose or prime rib. These things might be amazing and perfect for foodies, but they really are quite unnecessary. Most people are perfectly satisfied with eating a Thanksgiving Meal that is much more traditional. Here are some frugal, yet still delicious, options.
- Whole Turkey
- Turkey Breast
- Roasted Chicken
2. Let Your Guests Contribute Side Dishes
There’s no need for you to make everything that is going to be served for your dinner. Instead, let everyone bring something. Many guests would love to bring a dish that is one of their own family favorites. Maybe something that has been passed down for generations. Here are some simple ideas for things people could bring.
- Green Salad
- Make-Ahead Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Maple Ginger Glazed Carrots
- Sweet Potatoes
- Condiment Tray
- Veggie Tray
These Make-Ahead Side Dishes for Thanksgiving would be great for a guest to bring.
3. Cook From Scratch
There are tons of convenience items that you could pick up from the grocery store to make your Thanksgiving Dinner easy to make. However, these things are costly. You could easily pay 10X as much as it would cost you to make your recipes from scratch.
Try to make everything from scratch and you will save a lot of money. For many people, it’s quite a feat to cook everything and get it ready at the same time. There are 2 specific tips you need to know in order to make it happen. 1.) Cook ahead, and 2.) Remember #2 above (let your guests bring some of the food).
4. Cut Back on the Alcohol
We all know that alcohol can be pretty expensive. And, when alcohol is provided in abundance, people drink more. There are a few ways to limit the alcohol consumption at your Thanksgiving to keep things budget-friendly.
- Don’t serve it at all
- Let people bring their favorites
- Serve just enough for everyone to have one glass
- Make something like a Sangria, which stretches wine nicely — here are some Fun Fall Sangria Recipes to try
5. Budget-Friendly Decorations
Some people go all out on Thanksgiving decorations because it really is their gifting or because it is what makes hosting so special. Look for inexpensive ways to decorate your table at places like the Dollar Tree and your grocery store. People make beautiful table decor out of edible items like pumpkins, nuts, squash, and oranges. You can then eat these items in the coming weeks and nothing is wasted. Check out these articles for more details:
- 100 Cheap and Easy DIY Thanksgiving Decorations from Prudent Penny Pincher
- 10 Easy & Inexpensive Thanksgiving Table Centerpieces from Busy Budgeter
- 10 Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Decor Ideas from SmartyCents
6. Shop the Sales
There are great sales on Thanksgiving foods during the 2 weeks leading up to the holiday. Pay attention to which things are on sale and buy those items at the best price possible. It’s even possible to get your turkey completely free. Many grocery stores will encourage you to do all your shopping in their store so they’ll practically give you the turkey for free.
Make your menu and shopping list ahead of time so you can grab the things you need when you see them on sale.
For More Grocery Saving Ideas, Read: 10 Killer Ways to Save Money on Groceries
7. Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
You’ve gone through all the work to plan, prep, and prepare all these great dishes for a wonderful holiday gathering with your family and friends — there’s no sense in letting all that work go to waste by throwing out the leftovers. There are so many great recipes for using up your delicious turkey and the other good stuff, too.
The best part of all? You just might not have to cook at all for the next several days.
Remember the steps above and you’ll be well on your way to having a budget-friendly Thanksgiving. Your family will love it, your guests will love it, and you’ll love all the money you save.