14 Ways You Can Have a Budget Friendly Thanksgiving

By Chika


Last Updated: November 19, 2022



The value of sharing a meal with loved ones will never diminish. It creates moments which we would forever cherish. But what happens when the costs of sharing this special moment gets more expensive? 

Rising living costs may cost some American families the opportunity to get together and share some quality family time this year. Just about 70% of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year compared to 90% in 2016. 

The cost of Thanksgiving-related groceries is expected to rise 13.5% this year compared to last, according to research by data analytics firm IRI. More than 75% of Americans think the celebration will cost twice as much as it did before the pandemic. 88% of Americans plan to cut at least one dish from their Thanksgiving table this year to save money.

If you're hosting dinner but are concerned about rising costs, here's how to plan for a budget friendly Thanksgiving without breaking the bank!



14 Ideas for Having a Budget Friendly Thanksgiving

1. Start early.

In addition to allowing you some more time to spread out the cost, starting your Thanksgiving shopping early also enables you to compare prices to find the best deals.

Apps like Flipp and Favado let you compare circulars to see what products are on sale each week. You can stock up on non-perishable items when you get them at a decent price.


2. Make a list - and stick to it.

Never, ever shop for groceries without making a list.

Putting items in your cart carelessly will wind up costing you a lot of money. Make a list of all the ingredients you'll need to produce each dish as you plan your menu and pick what you'll be in charge of.

Once you've done that, it's critical that you follow your list. Avoid the temptation to include extra goods. Even more crucial is to only prepare foods you truly adore. Budget-wise, this is not the time to try new things with your visitor.

Start your ingredient purchases a few weeks in advance to further reduce the impact of your food expense. Purchase when the ingredients are on sale and spread the cost across two or three paychecks.


3. Use coupons.

You can save up to 70% on your food when you combine coupons with the lowest pricing at your local grocery stores.

Be careful to look for coupons on the products you need because there will be fantastic bargains and coupons on holiday delicacies.


4. Compare prices.

One of the easiest ways to save money on your Thanksgiving dinner is to find the lowest prices on the items you need at your local grocery stores.

It can also be a good idea to extend your search outside of stores. Visit dollar stores, pharmacy companies, or grocers. There are some items at each of these stores that are priced lower than those in grocery stores.


5. Use generic brands.

By choosing generic brands, you can significantly reduce your Thanksgiving spending.

The constituents of generic products are frequently the same; however, less money was spent on branding or advertising. And you benefit from those savings too!

Consider also that unless visitors rummage through your trash or cabinets, they won't realize that you used store-brand spices for the pumpkin pie.


6. Home cook your meals.

Compared to handmade meals, packaged food is more expensive.

Though they take a little bit longer to prepare, homemade meals are a lot more delicious to make, and healthier too! You can divide the cooking over two days to help feel less stressed on Thanksgiving.


7. Buy a smaller turkey.

One of the most expensive foods on the table for many households is turkey, and as availability has been reduced due to the inflationary pressures of shipping and labor costs, prices have increased even further.

Still, what would Thanksgiving be without a turkey? Buying a smaller turkey and letting guests pile it high with appetizers and side dishes is an easy method to mitigate the effects of that increase.


8. Don't pay too much for the accoutrements.

The price of the dinner can be greatly increased by the use of paper products and decorations.

Many people only consider the expenses associated with the food when planning Thanksgiving, neglecting to factor in the cost of non-edibles such napkins, paper plates if using disposables, and tin foil, all of which are more expensive this year.

By purchasing party supplies at the dollar store and decorating with children's artwork or natural seasonal elements like pinecones or leaves, you may stretch this portion of your budget.


9. Get creative with cocktails.

Another significant contributor to the price of holiday meals is alcohol.

By creating punch or other inventive drinks that may require less alcohol per drink, you can stretch your alcohol a little further. Alternatively, you may suggest that attendees bring drinks to share.


10. Get creative with leftovers.

You can normally prepare for the type of food you'll have at home for the following several days even though you don't know how much of everything you'll have left over.

Use bread for turkey sandwiches, eggs for scrambling with leftover vegetables, and freezer bags for the turkey, if you'd rather just have it on hand after New Year's, should all be on hand.

Apps like Dinner Spinner or Side Chef can help you with recipes using the items that you have on hand, including leftovers or unused ingredients. You can donate leftovers to friends and neighbors if you know you can't finish the food.


11. Make fewer dishes.

Due to rising labor and ingredient expenses, many restaurants are reducing their menu offerings.

You may do the same! Serve up a stylish menu fit for a restaurant; it will be simpler and more fun for everyone. Write or print a menu on cardstock that reflects your restaurant's aesthetic to elevate this bistro-style lunch.

One appetizer, a soup, an entree, one or two sides, and dessert is more than plenty while remaining incredibly decadent.


12. Ask guests to bring dishes.

You know how you say something very lovely when someone asks what they can bring and you don't worry about it; just bring yourself?

Well, if you want to save time and money, that is the incorrect response.

If friends inquire about what to bring, be prepared with a good response; otherwise, you risk receiving a lot of red wine. Dessert is an excellent choice because it's challenging to prepare and can still be served even if guests are running late.

Just request that several people bring dessert in case some people can't make it or their contribution isn't very good.


13. Invite fewer people.

Maybe you’ve spent the whole month of November extending invites, and now you’ve just realized you’re having 50 people over for Thanksgiving.

Not to mention all the dietary preferences you’ll need to accommodate for. And the table space!

Make things easier for yourself and keep your party small and intimate. Consider dropping your guestlist down to only the most VIP of folks, the ones who will bring the most joy to your Thanksgiving. You’ll make some excellent memories, and your bank account will thank you.


14. Accept invitations from others.

Did someone invite you to spend Thanksgiving with their family or friends at their home?

Take advantage of their offer! While entertaining is fun (and you should open your home if you want to), being a guest is just as enjoyable. And the price is much lower.

Offer to bring a dish and assist with cleanup after dinner as a way to express your thanks. Without shelling out a ton of cash, you'll get to take advantage of all the best aspects of Thanksgiving.



A Budget Friendly Thanksgiving is Totally Possible

This year's food-centered celebrations may necessitate a greater emphasis on economics as the holidays draw nearer and food costs continue to grow.

By reducing the number of guests, changing the food, or soliciting donations, some hosts are being more frugal with their spending. Some people are not celebrating the holiday at all.

You need to prioritize what is most important throughout the season of thanksgiving.

Remember what the holidays are all about: being together, whether you choose to partake in the celebrations or skip them altogether. Whatever you celebrate, holidays are a time to spend with the people you love and rediscover what is truly important in life.

No amount of inflation can take that away from the budget.

Photo by Nicole Michalou


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