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How to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

While many people consider the priciest holiday of the season to be Christmas, Thanksgiving can get really expensive, as well. Even though turkey and pumpkin pies can run up your holiday spending bills, there are a few things you can do to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

Related post: Budgeting for the Holiday Season

9 Tips to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

Make It a Potluck 

Having a potluck to keep your Thanksgiving on a budget is a win-win. Your critical cousins won’t have a chance to compare their sweet potato recipe to yours if they bring their own, and you’ll save some money by not needing to provide everyone’s Thanksgiving favorites. A great way to arrange a Thanksgiving potluck is to simply by assigning each person something to bring. 

For example, you could mention to grandma that the whole family adores her deviled eggs and ask her to bring them. If your brother-in-law can’t live without that green bean casserole, then he’ll be happy to bring it to share, and you won’t be in charge of cooking a dish you don’t even eat. Of course, if you are hosting, make sure the turkey is on your list. No one wants to be responsible for the messy transport of the main dish.

Keep Your Thanksgiving on a Budget by Shopping Early 

You may have noticed, but prices on things like boxed stuffing, broth, and even turkey fluctuate in price in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. In general, the earlier you shop, the better deal you’ll get, so if you’re not buying fresh, you can stock up as early as a month in advance to cash in on the best Thanksgiving food savings!  

Also – the closer you do get to Thanksgiving, check the sales at your local stores. Often you can find a “buy $100 worth of groceries, get a turkey for free” deal. Of course, you don’t want to break the budget by purchasing items you don’t need just to get that turkey, but if you do shop for groceries, why not get the bird for free?

Try a Farmer’s Market

For Thanksgiving on a budget, when you’re trying to go for fresh, a farmer’s market is the place to go! There is no middleman with farmer’s markets, and that means the people who grow the food don’t have to inflate costs. You’ll save a lot of money on all your fresh ingredients, plus, you’ll be helping out someone from your local area instead of padding the wallets of corporate farmers.

Don’t Turn a Nose Up at Generic

We get it. Your grandma wouldn’t dare think of making her world-famous green bean casserole with anything other than Campbell’s soup. But the times are changing! Many stores offer their own brand at a deep discount, and those store brands aren’t something to snub. They’re often made from the same ingredients and have a similar, or better, taste! You could cut your Thanksgiving budget by as much as ⅓ just by choosing the store brand goods! 

Do Your Own Baking

Unless you love baking, who wants to spend the night before Thanksgiving lovingly laying the lattice on an apple pie? The truth is you’ll save a lot of money by doing the work yourself. It’s easy to pick up a frozen pie while you’re grabbing the rest of your ingredients, but these are often marked up by quite a bit. Instead of paying extra for convenience, make all of your desserts yourself (or assign them to someone else?) to save a lot of money for the Thanksgiving guests who actually have room for dessert.

Related post: Last Minute Thanksgiving Desserts You Need to Try

Shop Wisely in Bulk

Buying in bulk might seem like a great way to save money, and it often is, but make sure you’re getting a deal on the bulk items you’re purchasing. The best things to buy in bulk include flour, potatoes, and butter since you’ll likely use all of them for the holiday meal. Even if you don’t, you’ll be able to hang onto them for use after the holidays. One mistake people make when bulk shopping for Thanksgiving on a budget is purchasing bulk spices. Spices typically have expiration dates, and you probably won’t go through that quart of parsley just for one big meal.

Frozen Over Fresh

It’s true that fresh food is typically better for you than canned, but frozen may be the best choice if you want to get the best option on a budget. Produce that’s frozen is usually flash-frozen when it’s at its peak ripeness, and that means you’ll get similar quality to fresh produce. Not to mention, frozen produce is typically less expensive and, if you don’t use it, you can always save it for later.  

Think of Alternatives 

Just because you’ve always had certain things at Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to do that this year. If you make sage dressing every year and nobody eats it, it might be time to cut it from the list. Traditional Thanksgiving recipes are great, but there’s no point in spending the money on food that no one really cares about. Skip out on any recipe you want - it’s your meal! 

Invite More People 

This may seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to have Thanksgiving on a budget, but adding more people to the list will ensure you don’t have as many leftovers. While it won’t necessarily save you tons of money, it can save on a ton of food waste. Plus, even if they’re not bringing anything, you can probably rope them into dishwashing after the big meal. Invite your friends, but also think of the people who are on the fringes of your social circles. Do your coworkers have somewhere to go? Do your kids’ friends’ have a hot meal waiting for them? Is there someone who you think might enjoy the meal with you? Invite them! 

What money-saving techniques do you use to stick to your budget during the holiday season? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Related post: Ways to Save on Your Thanksgiving Road Trip

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