How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal

thanksgiving spread

Cooking a large Thanksgiving meal for a crowd isn’t only time-consuming – it can also cost a fortune. If you’re planning a Thanksgiving meal for friends and family, you’ll need to examine your budget and figure out ways to cut costs without cutting out flavor or paring down your guest list. Fortunately, there are several things you can do in order to plan a budget-friendly Thanksgiving meal.
1. Make a Menu

In order to figure out how much you have to spend – and whether it’s feasible – you need to create a menu with all of the dishes you’d like to serve at your Thanksgiving feast. As you’re planning your menu, figure out your priorities. For example, would you be willing to forego the traditional turkey in favor of a less expensive bird? If that sounds like blasphemy to you, figure out where else you can cut costs without sacrificing your favorites.

Once you’ve made a menu, including appetizers and drinks you’d like to serve, shop your pantry before you even head to the grocery store. You may discover you have several ingredients on hand already, which will help lower your grocery bill and avoid wasting money on items you don’t need.
2. Comparison Shop

Once you’ve ironed out a menu, it’s time to look at your local grocery advertisements to find the best deals on the most important items on your shopping list. Realistically, you won’t be able to get the best deals on everything. However, comparison shopping for the most important items on your list will help you save a few bucks and allow you to get more for your money.
Additionally, don’t be afraid of generic brands for certain items. Canned cranberries, for example, taste just as good from a store-brand can as they do from a brand name and will be cheaper to boot!
3. Accept Help

You don’t have to buy – and prepare – everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to accept contributions from friends and family for your Thanksgiving feast. If no one offers to contribute, consider making the meal a potluck and ask your guests to contribute a favorite dish or beverage.
Not only will this ensure your guests will have something they enjoy during the meal, but it will help save you time – and money. Plus, most friends and family members will be more than happy to help contribute.
4. Use Coupons

Coupons are a great way to save money on your Thanksgiving meal preparations. If you don’t subscribe to your Sunday newspaper, consider purchasing a few single issues from newsstands and browse their coupon inserts for money-saving coupons on everything from flour to cranberries.
Chances are, if it’s on your grocery list, there will be coupons for it. Use those coupons during a promotion when those items are already on sale, and you’ll score an even better deal.
5. Don’t Overbuy
You want to make sure you have enough food for everyone, but you don’t want to spend more than you have to and end up with a ton of leftovers no one eats. Unfortunately, it can be hard to figure out how much food to purchase when you’re cooking for a crowd.

In order to estimate how much food you’ll need, use an online meal calculator to take some of the guesswork out of your Thanksgiving meal planning. While these calculators aren’t exact, they can help you get a general idea of the amount of food you’ll need to buy so you can avoid overspending.

Planning a Thanksgiving meal on a budget can be a daunting task, especially when you are cooking for a large crowd. By sticking to a budget, buying only what you need and shopping sales, you’ll be able to plan a delicious feast you and your guests will love.

Written by:  Denise Shively

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