How-to Tuesday: Thanksgiving on a Budget



If it’s your turn to host the Thanksgiving festivities at your house, the whole concept may seem more than a little daunting – especially if you’re working with a limited budget.

While you’re definitely going to have to produce at least several main dishes, most likely including a turkey, you can choose to go with a potluck-style affair. Ask your friends and family members to each bring a little something that may not seem like much to them, but that will help bring your overall costs down. For example, ask someone on the guest list to bring: napkins, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, drinks, a side dish, a salad or a soup that may be their specialty. Don’t forget – every Thanksgiving dinner needs a wide variety of pies and sweets, too!

Whether you’re accepting help or not, sit down and write out your Thanksgiving Day menu, including all of the ingredients you’ll need to make everything. It’s a good idea to create your list several weeks to a month before the holiday arrives so that you’ll be able to buy some of your non-perishable ingredients when they go on sale. Clip coupons for items on your list as they become available. Every week, take your Thanksgiving list with you on your regular shopping trip and pick up any items that you know you’ll need, but can safely sit in your fridge or shelf for awhile. Think things like butter, brown sugar, and vegetable oil for your ahead-of-time shopping.

Consider buying some of your menu items in bulk at Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, and then coordinating additional meal ideas that utilize the bulk ingredients, saving you a significant chunk of change for the entire month of November!

Another way to save money is to forego any pre-packaged items and create a completely homemade meal from start to finish. While this may add to the time and elbow grease required, you’ll save money on every dish you make from scratch. Instead of picking up powdered mashed potatoes, pre-made stuffing, pre-made pie crusts and pies – buy the ingredients and make your own to save big on your overall dinner costs.

Rather than making a huge spread of 20 different food choices, consider narrowing down your dinner offerings to a few most-loved dishes. Not only will this save you money, but it will allow you more time to work on fewer recipes – making everything you do serve taste that much better.

Another big money saver at any event or holiday is to go without alcohol. Supplying wine for your entire family can be quite expensive! After all, Thanksgiving is a time when we’re all so focused on the food – why add in drinks, too? Stick with simple, inexpensive beverage offerings, or ask someone else to bring the wine if it’s something your family really enjoys.

As far as decorating your home/dinner table for the holiday – just KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!) Don’t feel the need to buy all new Thanksgiving decor just because you’re hosting this year. Stick with decorations you’ve bought in the past, and add a flair of fall with some spicy candles and things you can find in nature, like dried flowers and colorful gourds.


Image credit: Lall

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