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How to Host a Budget Friendly Thanksgiving Feast

October 26, 2015

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Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Need to be an awesome Thanksgiving host on a budget? Here are budget-friendly ways to throw a great Thanksgiving feast! via @shoeahohlicnomore

Pumpkin pie, cranberry dressing, sweet potato casserole, and of course the Turkey all come to mind when planning Thanksgiving dinner. All of our family favorites are a delicious once a year treat, but they certainly come at a cost.

Did you know that, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has hovered at just under $50 per person for the past several years now? That’s a lot of money! Even if you don’t spend that much per person, even a quarter of that cost really starts to add up the more friends and family you add around your dinner table.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, don’t agonize over the cost. Here’s how to host a budget friendly Thanksgiving feast for your friends and family.

Make the Most of Coupons

When you go grocery shopping for Thanksgiving meal ingredients, make sure you’re using apps to earn cash back rewards on everyday purchases. Also make sure you have a reward card for the grocery stores you know you’ll shop at for Thanksgiving meal shopping.

If you don’t already have a card, go to the store now and get one. You may be able to earn valuable coupons or even cash back through your everyday shopping to get a great deal on your Thanksgiving feast groceries.

Budget for Your Turkey

When you go to buy your turkey make sure you allot for 1 pound per person, or 1.5 pounds if you really enjoy turkey leftovers. Since the price of turkey will only steadily incline as we get closer to Thanksgiving. You may want to consider buying a frozen turkey now, and stashing it in your freezer until the week of Thanksgiving. You’ll save quite a bit on the price per pound, meaning that you’ll be slashing the overall price per meal for your guests.

Create Filling and Inexpensive Sides

Vegetables and casseroles are budget friendly foods to have at your Thanksgiving feast. When buying the ingredients you need for these dishes, make sure to check the frozen food aisle for the cost per unit before you leave the store. Certain things like green beans, corn, and mixed vegetables will be much less expensive than the price of fresh produce.

Host a Potluck

One of the most inexpensive ways to host a budget friendly Thanksgiving Feast is to simply host a potluck. You’re price per meal per person can still hover at $50, but spread out over multiple families, no one will feel the financial brunt of hosting.

Offer to provide the turkey and pumpkin pie, but ask everyone else to bring a side dish, bottle of wine, bread, or desserts. Potlucks are also a great way to make sure everyone at the meal has something that they enjoy and will look forward to eating. Also ask your guest to be sure to bring along enough copies of their recipe so that everyone can enjoy their dish throughout the rest of the year as well.

Do What Works for Your Family

Thanksgiving is only as expensive as you choose to make it. Maybe you’re not big on turkey and everyone would rather have a ham or fish filet. Make cake instead of pie or even forgo the fresh cranberry dressing. Don’t feel compelled to serve a dish just because tradition calls for it. Serve the foods you know your family likes best, and ask everyone to pitch in by bringing their favorite dish. By actively trying to cut back on costs and save money through coupons and cash back rewards programs, you’ll be able to slash that price per person and enjoy a budget friendly Thanksgiving feast with your family.

How do you plan on saving money on Thanksgiving this year?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Shoeaholic No More*

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Need to be an awesome Thanksgiving host on a budget? Here are budget-friendly ways to throw a great Thanksgiving feast! via @shoeahohlicnomore

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Kristi Muse

Kristi Muse is a freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and millennial mom to two beautiful children. She loves homeschooling, organic gardening, sustainable living, and cooking from scratch. To hire Kristi as a freelance writer or to read more about how she lives a balanced life, visit her website or follow her on twitter @moderatemuse.

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15 responses to “How to Host a Budget Friendly Thanksgiving Feast

  1. Some grocery stores (Food Lion is one) have a coupon system where if you purchase a given amount for so many weeks, you can get a pretty big all-store coupon for Thanksgiving week. That’s one reason we’ve been going to FL instead of our standard Lowe’s Foods for October/November.

  2. I love these ideas, especially the idea of a potluck! I would also add shopping at Costco. Even if you don’t think you need “jumbo sized” containers of food, the average size at Costco isn’t as big as most people think and you’ll have tons of leftovers! Despite my love of Costco, I’m actually eating out this year 😉 haha. Sometimes you just need a break and I’m actually curious if it will cheaper.

  3. Around me, most grocery stores offer that if you use your loyalty card to spend a certain amount on groceries for the month before, you can get a free turkey (or similar item). If you stick to one store for your regular shopping, this is an easy way to get your main dish for free. And even if you’re not hosting a potluck, guests often want to bring something, so don’t be afraid to let them know what you need.

    1. Planning ahead to get a free turkey is a great way to save money. That’s one of the biggest costs of the meal. And I agree! When I attend a dinner, I always like to bring something, even if it’s not a potluck.

  4. Great suggestions, Kristi! Since moving, last year it was just my parents, my fiance and I. This year it’s the same deal, so I told my mom to just make lasagna instead. It’s a lot cheaper than buying a turkey and everything that goes along with it, and there’s no reason to go overboard with just 4 people. It might not be the same, but sadly, it’s not the same without my entire family there anyway. Spending more money isn’t the solution!

    1. Sadly, I’m in a similar situation this year too, Erin. My husband will be working on Thanksgiving so I’m pretty sure I will just be making a roast chicken dinner for our little family the day before.

  5. We always go potluck. Usually it is with all my cousins and aunts and uncles and we get a big church that has a basketball court and we hurry and eat, move the tables and play basketball until someone is injured (because we all think we are NBA players and not a lot older). Thanksgiving is all about family and spending time together, not spending a ton of money. I do love the leftovers for the next week!

  6. I’ve never run the numbers exactly but I don’t find Thanksgiving to be all that expensive. Like others have said, store loyalty cards get you a cheap or free turkey (I often buy an extra one or two to freeze). Stuffing is cheap, so are potatoes and corn. Desserts are an extra beyond the usual, as is the wine but the food itself really isn’t all that high–especially if you figure you’ll eat it for several meals.

  7. Some of our grocery stores have a great price for turkey around Thanksgiving. I guess it’s a loss leader for them. I always manage to buy a two or sometimes three because they make for some great frugal meals later.

    I love your idea of a potluck. It not only saves you money but save you your sanity trying to fix everything!

    Have a great day.

  8. $50 per person!! That seems insane. Maybe my family isn’t doing Thanksgiving right ;o) I feel like ours doesn’t come out to that much. I also have a pretty intense craving for some cranberry sauce now.

  9. Howdy,
    We plan our Thanksgiving dinner every year!Over the years I simplified it to save both time and money. As far as the American Farm Bureau Federations estimate that a Thanksgiving dinner costs just under $50 pp. I have fed our family of 7 plus guests for under $50 total.
    This would be a wonderful edition to my Frugal Friday Link-up.

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