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Top Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner

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Thanksgiving is a cherished holiday filled with warmth, togetherness, and a feast that often showcases a wonderful spread of delicious dishes. However, preparing a memorable Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank. With some smart planning and resourceful strategies, you can enjoy a fantastic meal without putting a strain on your wallet. Here are my top ways to save money on Thanksgiving Dinner.

We will explore a variety of practical tips and creative ideas to help you save money while still creating a delicious and festive Thanksgiving dinner. From shopping hacks to smart portioning and utilizing leftovers, get ready to discover how to make this Thanksgiving both satisfying for your taste buds and gentle on your budget.

picture of a table with a white tablecloth with a cooked tukey, cornbread, pumlkin piem carnberry sauce and ofhter thanksgiving sides,. There is also a bouquet on the table and empty wine glasses.

Top Ways to Make Thanksgiving Day Magical

Set a budget. Finalize your guest list and then prepare a budget based on how many people are coming. Setting a Thanksgiving budget is of utmost importance when planning for this special holiday. By establishing a budget, you gain control over your expenses and ensure that you don’t overspend or encounter any financial stress.

Thanksgiving can be a time of indulgence, but it’s crucial to remember that financial responsibility is equally important. By setting a budget, you can allocate funds wisely, prioritize your spending, and make thoughtful decisions about the menu, decorations, and any additional expenses.

Moreover, a Thanksgiving budget allows you to plan ahead, explore cost-saving options, and potentially save money for other important aspects of your life. It empowers you to enjoy the holiday with peace of mind, knowing that you’re managing your finances responsibly and creating a memorable Thanksgiving without unnecessary financial strain.

Know General Serving Guidelines. Check out this handy printable guide from Good Housekeeping.

Do some DIY decor. Make your home beautiful with some DIY fall decor. Check out thrift stores or even search for inspiration in your own backyard!

Make Thanksgiving Dinner a potluck. Instead of handling all the dishes, suggest some guests (or all) bring a dish to share. Coordinate so everyone is not bringing a dessert. For my dinner, I make the turkey, stuffing, and one dessert. Other people bring other sides and meats. It greatly lessens the amount I need to budget to get my part completed.

Avoid disposable dishes and napkins. Buy some nice cloth napkins that you can reuse year after year. Use real dishes. It might mean a little more work, but it saves a lot of money. Especially with Thanksgiving Dinner, when a guest needs heavier-duty plates that cost more.

close up icture of a nice plate with cloth napkin, fall decor and empty glass on the table.

Determine what is cheaper store-bought, What is cheaper to prepare homemade? Calculate the cost of a dish and figure out if it is better to buy a store-bought item or to make it yourself. Some dishes and sides are pennies per serving to make homemade, like gravy and mashed potatoes. Other dishes like specialty pies, can be done using your store’s bakery for sometimes less than the cost to buy all the ingredients.

Make a thorough shopping checklist. Once you have decided what you are making, make a list of all ingredients needed. Inventory your pantry after you have made your list. Check to make sure your spices are all good and other seasonal items you might to stockpile for the coming holidays. It is very important you list every ingredient with the amount and then add up how much you need of each ingredient. I always seem to run out of butter or vegetable stock because I forget how many recipes use that ingredient. Collect coupons, using money-saving rebate apps, and start watching sales! Adequate planning prevents you from buying a $4 jar of gravy from the convenience store, which is something I did my first Thanksgiving in my own place.

paper grocery list with a pencil sitting on the paper

Shop for non-fresh items early. Since you have your list. You can start shopping for non-fresh items immediately so you can scope out the lowest prices. Save the fresh items for the week of Thanksgiving.

Make a realistic time plan. Just like you calculate the price of store vs. homemade, consider the value of your time. Do you have the time to make homemade rolls or is there too much going on Thanksgiving Day? Pies can be made ahead of time and frozen.   Some things can be prepared the day before and reheated in the oven. Make a plan that works for you to have a wonderful dinner.

Use the complete turkey to get the full value of the money spent. Getting the full value from your turkey purchase goes beyond just enjoying the main course on Thanksgiving Day. To make the most of your investment and minimize waste, it’s essential to utilize the complete turkey. Here are a few tips to help you get the full value spent:

  1. Save the bones: After carving the turkey, don’t discard the bones just yet. Save them to make a rich and flavorful turkey stock or broth. Simmer the bones with vegetables, herbs, and spices to create a base for soups, stews, or gravies. This not only adds depth to your dishes but also ensures that no part of the turkey goes to waste.
  2. Use leftovers creatively: Transform your leftover turkey into new and exciting dishes. From sandwiches and wraps to soups, casseroles, and salads, there are countless possibilities. Consider making a hearty turkey pot pie or a comforting turkey chili. Get creative and experiment with flavors to breathe new life into your leftovers.
  3. Make turkey broth from scraps: Don’t discard the turkey scraps, such as the skin, trimmings, and leftover meat attached to the carcass. Simmer these scraps with water and aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery to create a flavorful turkey broth. This broth can be used as a base for soups, and risottos, or as a cooking liquid for grains like quinoa or rice.
  4. Freeze for future use: If you find yourself with more turkey than you can consume, freeze the extra portions for future meals. Package the turkey in airtight containers or freezer bags and label them with the date. Frozen turkey can be used for sandwiches, casseroles, or even added to salads for a protein boost later on.

In conclusion, saving money on your Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean sacrificing the joy and abundance of this special holiday. With thoughtful planning, smart shopping, and resourceful strategies, you can create a memorable feast while keeping your budget intact. Remember, Thanksgiving is ultimately about gratitude, togetherness, and creating cherished memories with loved ones. By implementing these money-saving tips, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving dinner while keeping your financial goals in check.

Have other ways to save money on Thanksgiving dinner?  Share them in the comments!

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