Hosting a Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

Sitting around the table enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with your close friends and family can be such a special occasion where lots of (hopefully fond) memories are made.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to get together and focus on what you are grateful for while enjoying a delicious meal in the company of your loved ones. However, the holiday is not always joyful and exciting – it can also be quite stressful especially if not-so-joyous family members are attending, or if money is tight, and you want to stick to a smaller budget.

Hosting Thanksgiving does not have to be stressful though. In fact, you can certainly have a joyful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner with your friends and family without spending a fortune or wishing that it would just hurry up and be over with.

Hosting a dinner at your house may already be stressful enough thanks to the attendance of certain relatives, so it is important to reduce any of the stresses that are in your control such as the costs associated with the meal. Although we do not have as many helpful tips for making your in-laws or aunt Sally more pleasant, we have compiled lots of tips for hosting the holiday on a budget – which can greatly reduce your stress levels so that the entire experience is much more enjoyable. Check out these money-saving tips below:

Plan the Menu

A few weeks in advance, it is essential that you decide on exactly what you are going to be serving at your Thanksgiving meal. This can be very beneficial for a number of reasons. As one example, setting the menu ahead of time will help you to come up with a grocery shopping list of exactly the items that you need. That way, you only purchase what you need and do not end up buying ingredients impulsively that you may not end up using.

When you are planning your menu, make sure that you opt for dishes that do not cost much to make, and try to find dishes that share common ingredients so that you can limit the different supplies that you have to purchase. Additionally, try to stick with more basic dishes that do not require lots of fancy ingredients, and opt for making larger portions of each dish rather than making a variety of different dishes.

A few examples of low-cost Thanksgiving dishes include:

  • Turkey seasoned with spices you already have on-hand
  • Gravy made from the turkey drippings
  • A green salad topped with fresh inexpensive veggies like carrots and broccoli
  • Basic mashed potatoes (Potatoes are cheap, and you can flavor the dish simply with salt and pepper and some butter and milk – likely all ingredients you already have in your kitchen.)

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Coupon Clip and Sale Search

Also, planning the menu ahead of time can help you to watch for sales or coupons for the items that you need so that you can snag those ingredients as soon as you notice that they are at a good price. Stores will usually offer discounts or special offers for certain Thanksgiving-related food items before the holiday, so it is important to watch out for those discounts and grab the items you need when they are on sale.

However, if you do end up purchasing ingredients a few weeks in advance, make sure that they are either non-perishable items such as canned vegetables, or they are freezable so that they stay fresh until the big day.

Ask for Help

Not only is it pricey to prepare an entire Thanksgiving dinner for your friends and family by yourself, it can also be exhausting as well. Because of this, it is important that you ask your guests to provide a dish or drink if you are comfortable doing so. Perhaps you can ask each attendee to bring their favorite dessert or side dish, whether it is homemade or store-bought. Most guests would be happy to whip up their favorite recipe to share or stop at a store on the way over to supply a few snacks. Just make sure that you coordinate with each guest to ensure that you do not end up with five pumpkin pies.

Other Money-Saving Tips

There are many different tips that you can follow to ensure that you stay under budget when hosting Thanksgiving at your house. A few of these helpful tips include:

  • Choosing a frozen bird. The turkey is usually the biggest expense when hosting Thanksgiving dinner. To save money, purchase a store-brand frozen turkey instead of a fresh turkey, and look for coupons to reduce the price even more.
  • Buying in bulk if possible. You can generally score the best deals if you purchase certain ingredients in bulk. For example, a bag of potatoes is going to be much cheaper per potato than buying just a handful of potatoes. However, keep in mind that buying in bulk is only cost-effective if you end up using all of the items. To ensure this happens, split the cost and items with a friend, cook multiple dishes using those bought-in-bulk ingredients, or freeze the extras for later use.
  • Making more from scratch: Generally, using store-bought canned and boxed items will increase your overall cost, so try to make most of your dishes from scratch if possible. For example, pie crusts, breadcrumbs and whipped cream can usually be made much cheaper than using the already-made options.

However, you should also take into account that using some store-bought items can save you a great deal of time, and therefore may be worth the additional cost in certain situations. Be sure to weigh your options beforehand and determine what you will make from scratch and what you will purchase already-made at the store.

Overall, as long as you take a few of these tips into consideration, you can host a lovely Thanksgiving dinner without needing to spend much money at all. Plan out your menu, look for coupons and ask your guests to bring an item or two, and you will be able to have a delicious meal for a fraction of the cost.

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