Holidays can be expensive, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Between the cost of turkey, beverages and all the fixings, you can end up over budget pretty quickly.
However, we’ve compiled a list of easy ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner, whether you’re feeding 5 people or 50.
Take advantage of the tips listed here to help spend less on Thanksgiving dinner than ever before.
How to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner
It’s easy to save on Thanksgiving dinner when you know where and how to make the cuts and find the deals.
Read on for easy ways to make your Thanksgiving dinner frugal while not compromising on quality or taste.
1. Get A Free Turkey
Several stores and charitable organizations give away free turkeys every single year around Thanksgiving time.
Grocery stores often give away free turkeys with a purchase. And many churches and food shelves buy free turkeys to give away as a way to help community members have a bountiful Thanksgiving celebration.
Click on the link above to see if a store or charitable organization near you is having a free turkey giveaway, or search your local store ads for free turkeys.
2. Shop the Sales
Starting in early October, you can find deals on almost every part of a Thanksgiving dinner if you’re willing to check local ads and shop the sales.
Stores have sales on potatoes, vegetables, refrigerated breads, pies and more. Scour local ads for information on sale items and then take advantage of the deals that fit in with your Thanksgiving dinner menu.
3. Buy In-Season Produce
In-season produce is always cheaper than out-of-season produce. This is because although stores do have the ability to stock out-of-season produce, they usually spend more to do so.
Your best bet to save on Thanksgiving dinner is to stick to in-season produce options as you plan your Thanksgiving menu.
Buy your potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other late-fall harvested veggies and fruits if you’re buying fresh. Knowing how to buy in season groceries on a budget is key.
4. Stick to the Basics
If you’re looking to save money on your Thanksgiving dinner, it’s best to keep your menu simple.
Stick to the basics such as turkey, stuffing, a couple of breads and a couple of veggie selections.
Get a pie or two for dessert and call it a day. Everyone will still get plenty to eat, and you’ll save money in the process.
5. Make it a Potluck Meal
Another great way to save on Thanksgiving is to make your meal a potluck meal. By having every guest bring a menu item, you’re accomplishing two goals.
First, you’re ensuring your guests feel like they’re a bigger part of this annual celebration when they get to contribute to the meal.
Second, you’re saving money as you don’t need to purchase and prepare everything on your own.
6. Use Money Saving Apps
Money saving apps like Ibotta can be a great way to save money on your Thanksgiving celebration. These types of apps always boast money-saving deals on the holidays.
You might find coupons for free milk, free turkey, free potatoes and more.
Check out the best money saving apps by clicking on the link above, and download the ones that appeal most to you. Then use the app to get terrific deals on Thanksgiving meal items and more.
7. Simplify the Beverage List
Serving beverages at gatherings like Thanksgiving can cost a lot of money–especially if you’re serving a variety of alcoholic beverages.
In order to keep your budget in check, choose to simplify your beverage list. For example, you could offer milk, water and tea for non-alcoholic beverages.
If you’re serving alcoholic beverages at your Thanksgiving gathering, keep it simple and offer one selection each of beer and wine.
Or, ask guests to BYOB so they can have the beverages they prefer.
8. Make Frugal Appetizers
Appetizers aren’t a requirement for a Thanksgiving dinner. However, if your guests are used to getting appetizers during the gathering or you’d really like to serve them, consider these ideas for frugal and cheap appetizer choices.
- Buy generic crackers and slice bulk cheddar cheese
- Get a generic brand of mixed nuts
- Serve carrot sticks and dip
- Serve cocktail weenies or meatballs and BBQ sauce
- Pop some homemade popcorn
Keep it simple and serve just one or two appetizers, and serve the main course soon after guests arrive.
9. Shop Food Distribution Programs
Nearly all communities have some type of food distribution program. And many of these food distribution programs are available to all visitors, regardless of income or other status.
Most food distribution programs are designed to help minimize food waste by giving away food that is close to the expiration date.
By taking advantage of these programs, you might be able to get many of your Thanksgiving menu items for free.
Search “food distribution near me” or contact local food shelves or churches to get information on programs near you that give away free food.
10. Keep Decor Simple
Decor can be another expensive part of a Thanksgiving meal. However, there are ways you can save money on Thanksgiving decor as well.
Use What You Have
Start by searching through your storage bins and using what you have for fall or Thanksgiving decor.
Use Items in Nature
Much of Thanksgiving revolves around celebrating the harvest season. Check with local farmers and see if you can get corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkins and other items for cheap or free.
Or talk a walk outside and see what you can find right in your own yard or a nearby park. Look for leaves, acorns, pinecones and more.
Shop the Sales
With the recent end of Halloween, many stores are putting pumpkins and other fall decor on clearance. Check local stores near you for deals.
Check Online Sale Sites
Craigslist and Facebook will often advertise free or cheap fall decor items. Check out Craigslist household or free categories.
Or look on Facebook Marketplace, local buy and sell pages, or local buy nothing pages for free or cheap fall decor items.
There are many ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner if you’re willing to do some research and put in the effort.
Use the tips above to help you serve a fantastically frugal Thanksgiving dinner this year.