If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving meal for family and friends, you may be surprised by how quickly the costs add up. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep a tight budget for this food-centric holiday. Even if you’re planning a huge meal for lots of guests, using just one or two of these tips and tricks can help prevent overspending while still enjoying a wonderful holiday celebration.
1. Go the Potluck Route
The best way to keep your costs down for a Thanksgiving meal is to have a potluck-style celebration. Ask your guests to bring simple dishes to contribute to the meal. Since it’s fairly impractical to transport a turkey, it’s best if you take care of this part of the meal on your own. However, most of the other dishes can be handled by other guests. Simply assign each guest a specific dish or dish type (appetizer, dessert, side dish, etc.).
In addition to enjoying a more budget-friendly meal, a potluck also gives you the opportunity to try new and delicious dishes. Add an extra-special twist to your gathering by asking guests to bring along a copy of the recipe they used for their contribution. Then, send out a small booklet or an email with all the recipes to guests in the days following the gathering.
2. Shop Ahead of Time (With Coupons)
There’s no reason you need to wait until the week of Thanksgiving to do your meal shopping. Make a list of the ingredients you need to make your planned holiday meal. Then, keep an eye out for coupons and sales on those products in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. In many cases, you can find good deals on items that can be frozen or come in cans. In addition, some grocery stores will give you a free turkey if you spend a certain amount during the month of November (so don’t forget to keep your receipts).
As an added bonus, shopping ahead of time helps you to stay within your regular budget week by week rather than going overboard the week of Thanksgiving. By spreading out your expenses, it’s easier to deal with the added expense than if you spend your whole holiday meal budget in a matter of days.
3. Choose Bulk Drinks
Many people realize the budgetary benefits of buying food in bulk. However, many overlook these benefits when it comes to purchasing drinks. Even worse, plenty of hosts forget to include drinks in their budget when planning a holiday meal.
You can save some money on your Thanksgiving drinks by looking for “bulk” options of your favorite beverages. Instead of individual bottles of wine, get boxed wine, which is significantly cheaper. For large parties, you can get a keg of beer rather than individual cans or bottles. Look for deals on large portions of cider, juice and other drinks you want for your Thanksgiving feast.
4. Buy Seasonal Ingredients
Items like apples, pears, potatoes, broccoli and squash are in season during November. This means you can find plenty of them at cheap prices. When planning your menu, be sure to keep these items in mind since they can help bring down your overall costs.
5. Cook From Scratch
Don’t waste money on boxes on potato flakes when you can make a much larger portion of mashed potatoes at a fraction of the price. The same goes for pie crusts – pre-made crusts will cost you much more overall for the little time they save. Look through your meal plan for opportunities to make your dishes from scratch for cost-saving purposes.
6. Skip the Disposable Dishware
You don’t need to break out the fine china, but it certainly won’t help your budget if you choose plastic silverware, paper napkins and paper plates for your celebration. Plan to have all of your dishes clean and ready to use on the big day. If you need more dishes to accommodate guests, ask someone to bring along some of their dishes to use just for the day to supplement your own. Don’t forget you can also invest in items that can be reused (pie tins, roasting pans, etc.) rather than wasting your money on disposable options.
7. Don’t Waste Leftovers
Make sure you’re prepared to wrap up or box up any items that are leftover at the end of the meal. There are dozens of ways to use leftover turkey to create delicious meals. Other side dishes and appetizers can also be saved to be eaten later on. Freeze portions of the leftovers if you have too much to eat in the next few days. By making sure nothing goes to waste, you’ll put every dollar you spend to good use when it comes to your Thanksgiving meal.
You can still have a big, delicious feast this Thanksgiving, but with these cost-saving tips you can also enjoy holding onto more of your cash while you do it. Make sure you plan your meal well in advance to ensure that you’re preparing a budget-friendly meal for this fall holiday.