New to BFS? Please click here to get started. See you in the comments soon!

8 Ways to Save Some Dough on Thanksgiving Meals

This post may contain affiliate links.

The following is a guest post by YFS from If you want relevant, witty and easy to follow financial guidance subscribe to his newsletter by clicking here!  And yes, YFS guest posted last week too – that’s what happens when you send me posts – consider this a call to arms to fellow bloggers!  🙂

Is it your turn to cook the Thanksgiving dinner this year? Maybe it is your responsibility every year to cook this large dinner. If you have a large family, it can be quite expensive to cook a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, the average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people cost about $44. ( Even if you have a small family, you might be interested in reducing your Thanksgiving dinner costs, and many people tend to overspend when it comes to preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. The following are a few tips that you can use to have a fun, affordable Thanksgiving dinner.

1.  Buy Stuff Early

So many components of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner can be bought days, weeks or even months ahead of time. Canned goods such as cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie filling last for years, and you can start buying them before Thanksgiving. Some stuffing mixes also last for a very long time. By buying some stuff early, you can help spread out the cost over a few months.

2.  Put Your Family to Work

Ask family members to bring a dish to the Thanksgiving dinner, and this will help you to reduce costs. If you have enough family members or if people can bring more than one dish, you might just have to cook the turkey and the stuffing.

3.  Use Coupons and Promotions

Check your paper for coupons especially during November. Stores want to sell their Thanksgiving related goods, and you can often get pretty good deals on certain brands if you take the time to look for the coupons. You can also find coupons online at websites like Some stores run promotions for things like free turkeys or hams around Thanksgiving. Your local paper is a good place to find information about promotions like this.

4.  Try the Local Grocery

Sometimes your local grocery will have better deals, especially around the holidays, than the big box grocery stores like Super Wal-Mart and Kroger. This isn’t always the case, but it is worth it to take a shopping trip to the local supermarket. Even if you do not find that the savings are much different, you’re supporting local business.

5.  Go Veggie

This does not necessarily mean that you need to break out the tofurkey, but having more vegetarian side dishes can reduce your Thanksgiving dinner costs. Meat prices are high, and most of your dinner costs will go into buying meat. So, if you normally have a ham and a turkey every Thanksgiving, why don’t you just try turkey this year?

6.  Decorations

If this is your first time hosting your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, you might feel like you need to go out and buy festive fall decorations. While cute decorations will certainly make your house look great, you shouldn’t have to spend too much money on them. First, you can try borrowing decorations from a friend or relative. Maybe they have some old decorations that they will not be using this year. Second, if you have kids, especially young ones, you can put them in charge of decorating for dinner. Check out this hand and feet turkeys –

7.  Eat Your Leftovers

Get creative with your Thanksgiving leftovers so that you will actually use everything before it goes bad. If you aren’t crazy about eating leftovers for a week, you can also send food home with your family. Check out these turkey leftover recipes –

8.  Don’t Overspend

Try not to overspend on Thanksgiving dinner. You want to know how many people are coming and cook for that many people. If you are new at cooking for large groups talk to friends and relatives who have done it before, and they can help you determine the right portion size for your dishes. You do not want to cook too much more than you need because then you’re stuck with a bunch of leftovers. And one last tip for saving money on your Thanksgiving dinner is to check your pantry before you shop. Sometimes you already have what you need.

Crystal’s Comments:  We have been hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at our house for about 10 people for the past 3 years and it always ends up costing us about $50-$60 since we do splurge on ham AND turkey.  Plus we make our own dressing from scratch, sweet potatoes, pineapple stuffing, and homemade apple pie.  And as if that wasn’t enough, everyone else brings their favorite dish too…yay for potlucks!

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
Be Sociable, Share!
Truly Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
The Dollar Challenge

14 thoughts on “8 Ways to Save Some Dough on Thanksgiving Meals

  1. I have never spent much on Thanksgiving as it has always been at my grandmother’s house, and she has always taken care of everything.

    However, we have done a few other dinners at our house, and I can attest that buying stuff in advance when you can plan it out, and watch for deals is the best way to save money. They also do not mark seasonal items up to a premium b/c they know they will sell more. Take advantage of supply and demand, and buy early!

  2. We definitely employ #2 often. At many of our family gatherings, this is what we do. Everyone brings a dish. It takes the pressure off one person to feed everyone and the weekend is a much more enjoyable time which is what the holidays are supposed to be about.

  3. I’m a huge advocate for pot luck themed Thanksgivings. As they truly spread the burden and cost of preparing a full meal. Additionally it allows the host am opportunity to enjoy the guest.

  4. I’ve never paid anything since my place is too small to both cook or host a dinner here. I can say that #7 is my MO for any occasion. Not from a money standpoint, but just because I love food, and many holidays there is stuff I can eat multiple times without getting sick of it. Well, that and the fact that I don’t have to cook fr a day or two.

  5. Potlucks are great, not just for financial reasons but also because it makes the holiday a “team” effort. Everyone has buy-in. Everyone’s a part of the production. And everyone gets the satisfaction of having contributed to the event.

  6. We have recently taken to the potluck Thanksgiving thing, and this cut costs drastically. I cut my costs even more by bringing the turkey: I get it for free from my hubby’s work, so I only have to buy aromatics and herbs.

  7. These are all really great tips. I love the decoration idea of having kids participate in making the decorations. Not only do you have decorations, but if you have a craft table set up (and the kids are old enough 🙂 then you have something to occupy them as well. Thanks for this timely and informative post!

  8. Great advice! My favorite….eat your leftovers! Nothing like turkey sandwiches. Plus, it saves you money from having to go buy additional groceries that week.

  9. My sister-in-law does most of the work on Thanksgiving since she hosts the lunch/dinner, but we always do a potluck type of arrangement. Many times, we get there early and bring our own supplies so that we can cook together during the morning. It’s a fun way to share the work and the costs while still spending time together.

Comments are closed.