The average American spends around $50 on a traditional Thanksgiving meal—including the turkey, all the side dishes, and desserts. But, if you’re anything like me, you probably can’t afford that much. Heck, that $50 could easily get me through several days worth of meals, and the idea of spending that on single meal is just hard to swallow. But, don’t fear! There are ways to be frugal and still have a fantastic and unforgettable Thanksgiving with your friends and family.
Make it Potluck
The easiest way to save money on Thanksgiving is to make it a potluck! Talk to your guests ahead of time and figure out who can bring what. As the host, you’ll probably be stuck with the turkey, but if that’s the only thing you have to supply, that’s still quite a bit of savings!
Say Yes to Offers
If you aren’t comfortable doing a complete pot luck, start saying yes when people ask to bring things. Every dish you don’t have to make is a little savings, and some things like mashed potatoes or drinks are not hard to transport. Plus, this gives your guests a chance to show off their cooking skills!
Shop your pantry first
Before you go shopping for your fabulous Thanksgiving meal, check your pantry to see what you already have. Sometimes you can save a lot by using ingredients you already have to make simple dishes or nontraditional family favorites.
Keep an eye out for sales when you’re shopping for the Thanksgiving feast. Many times you can save a lot by buying really early or after the holiday has passed (which works if you’re like my family and do Thanksgiving on Saturday instead of Thursday). Additionally, larger turkeys are actually cheaper per pound, and if you have a butcher in town they’ll usually cut it for you for a small fee. Then, you can use the other half for Christmas or a meal later in the year!
Don’t double-up on sides
There’s no reason to have more than one of the same kind of dish unless you have a really big family. My family, being tired of tons of leftovers, decided to talk to everyone and figure out which dishes were favorites. Then, for the dishes that only had a couple people who really ate it, we either made a tiny batch or simply skipped it entirely in favor of the crowd-pleasers. Voila! Instant savings in both money and time. This is also true for pies—remember that you’re not opening a bakery. Do you really need more than one or two pies?
Save on Decor
Everyone wants the table to look nice for Thanksgiving, but no matter what the superstores will tell you, there’s no reason to spend money on decorations. Instead, go to the backyard and pick up some leaves or sticks and arrange them on the table. Place pine cones in a pretty bowl, or glitter up some acorns and scatter them about. You can also buy some tiny pumpkins and gourds for a couple dollars and set them on the table, or use some ribbon and maple leaves for a pop of color under serving dishes. Have any fall-colored potted plants? Place them on the table! Above all, remember that Thanksgiving is about the friendship and family, not how the table looks.
Whether or not you end up spending more money than you like on this once-a-year feast, you can always make sure that you use up the leftovers and stretch that money! Save the turkey bones for some stock, and reuse both the meat and stuffing in multiple dishes. I’m also a huge fan of turkey sandwiches, personally!
How do you save money on Thanksgiving? Tell me in the comments below!!