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10 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner this Year

10 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner this Year


The average American was expected to spend just over $186 on Thanksgiving 2019, according to a LendEDU survey. The bulk of these expenses (more than $150) went toward food, drinks and other Thanksgiving feast supplies. Looking for ways to trim your spending this year? Here are 10 simple ways to save on Thanksgiving Dinner.


1. Plan a potluck dinner.

Who says the host has to do all the heavy lifting? Schedule a quick Zoom call or create a group text with your friends and family to figure out the menu together. From there, you can decide who’s bringing what. Plan for appetizers, main and side dishes, desserts and drinks. This can help alleviate your to-do list and reduce your total expenses.


2. Have guests chip in for the celebration.

If holiday cooking is your thing, you certainly don’t have to sacrifice having some fun in the kitchen. Once you’ve finalized your menu, ballpark how much it will cost you to put it all together. At that point, you can connect with family and friends to see if everyone’s comfortable splitting the cost and throwing in their share. This allows you to entertain and also takes the stress off others who’d prefer not to whip up a dish.


3. Plan ahead.

Heading to the supermarket without a plan is a recipe for overspending. From décor to food to drinks, take some time to sketch out your plans ahead of time. Get clear on exactly what you need, then compare prices and shop around to find the best deals. This can help reduce impulse purchases. Picking budget-friendly recipes that are light on complex ingredients can go a long way too. (More on this in a minute.)


4. Opt for BYOB.

Depending on how many people are getting together for the holiday, alcohol and soft drinks can add up quickly. One option is to host dinner as planned, but ask your guests to bring their own drinks. You can then cross soda, wine, beer, liquor and mixers off your shopping list. It’ll also prevent you from buying too much and having half-empty bottles left over at the end of the night.


5. Go with appetizers over a formal dinner.

Turkey prices are expected to hit all-time highs this year and will likely exceed $1.36 per pound, according to a New York Times analysis. Consider skipping the turkey altogether and going with Thanksgiving-inspired appetizers instead. (Bacon-wrapped dates, anyone?) Pair your hors d’oeuvres with a signature cocktail instead of an all-out dinner party. Alternatively, you could throw a dessert and coffee get-together.


6. Take turns playing host.

The host usually ends up putting in the most work for Thanksgiving dinner — and spending more money than anyone else. Connect with your family to make a holiday season game plan. If you hosted last year, you might suggest alternating so that different family members or friends take the reins. Guests can still contribute, but your budget will likely catch a break if you aren’t entertaining everyone at your house.


8. Build your menu around budget-friendly dishes.

Before you start meal prepping, check out what local produce is in season near you. You can also reduce your spending by focusing on recipes that are easier on the wallet. The internet has no shortage of budget-friendly Thanksgiving dishes, from kicked-up grilled cheese to pumpkin fluff dip. Shoot for recipes with a short list of ingredients. If you can reuse leftovers in your everyday cooking, all the better.


9. Let someone else cook for you.

Lots of supermarkets and even restaurants put together all-in-one Thanksgiving meals to go. That means no shopping, prepping or clean-up. (Yes, please!) This can also be a very budget-conscious option. Costco, for example, charges $100 for a full Thanksgiving meal that feeds eight people. It includes turkey, potatoes, green beans, sweet corn, biscuits and desserts — all for about $12.50 per person.


10. Skip the big dinner and do something else.

There’s no reason you can’t start a whole new Thanksgiving Day tradition. Instead of throwing a huge dinner, you could gather up friends and family for a lunch picnic in the park or holiday movie afternoon. It might make for a nice taste of something new. Afterwards, you can enjoy a cozier Thanksgiving dinner with close family or friends.


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