Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

Hosting your very first Thanksgiving Dinner? Here’s some advice for how to make your first dinner a huge success, while still sticking to your budget.

Lower Grocery Cost:

Plan ahead, and don’t over-do it. Make a menu and stick to it, without being too ambitious. It’s fine to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with just a few basic dishes: turkey, stuffing or dressing, two casseroles or side dishes (i.e. candied yams, green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes), a fruit salad or deviled eggs, and two of your favorite pies (i.e. pumpkin, pecan, chocolate). You can work your way up to a bigger dinner and add more favorites in the future, but this year, it’s o.k. to start small.

Buy Ingredients On Sale. Make a grocery list and check the sale ads at every grocery store in town (in-store or on their website). Most stores run great sales on the holidays, to encourage buyers to do all their holiday shopping there. “Buy one, get one” sales are the best for savings, so be sure to buy BOGO items that are on your list. Do price comparisons, and buy each item at the store with the lowest price. The savings will be well-worth the visits to several stores. Look for coupons at,, Buy in bulk at wholesale grocery stores; or buy in bulk and half the product (and the cost) with a friend.

Cook “from scratch”. Cooking from scratch is almost always cheaper than buying pre-prepared items, and it’s easier than it sounds. Prepare mashed potatoes, bread crumbs, and stuffing from scratch, rather than from a mix; and make your own pie crust, rather than buying expensive pre-made pies. Of course, you’ll need more time when cooking from scratch, so start prepping days ahead to prevent being overwhelmed on Thanksgiving Day.

(Link to article submitted separately: “Six Thanksgiving Dinner Items to Prepare Ahead”


Decorate from nature. Instead of purchasing an expensive table centerpiece, use fall items from the outdoors. Create a beautiful centerpiece using pinecones, fall flowers, and colorful leaves. Put them on a placemat or table runner; or add them to a basket or bowl that you already own. If needed, round out your centerpiece with some do-it-yourself items from the floral section at Hobby Lobby.

Share the Load:

Have a potluck dinner. When guests ask, “What can I bring?”âÂ?¦TELL them! Ask guests to bring a side dish, bread, or dessert so you don’t have to make every dish yourself. Assign baked items, preferably, because oven space is at a premium when making Thanksgiving dinner.

Combine families. If your dinner will only have a few guests, consider combining Thanksgiving dinner with another family. One family can’t eat an entire turkey, so have one big dinner with friends, and share the cooking (and therefore, the grocery bill also).

Good luck hosting your first Thanksgiving Dinner and have a Happy Turkey Day!

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