Last Update: October 24, 2023
It’s no secret that this year, budgeting is a big concern for many people. You likely notice inflation affecting your everyday grocery shopping, so when it comes to an indulgent meal like Thanksgiving dinner, it may feel impossible to keep costs low.
Luckily, we have a number of money-saving tips for planning Thanksgiving, from recipes that do a whole lot with very little to an under-$100 Thanksgiving grocery list that prioritizes only the essentials. Read on for more cooking hacks for making a Thanksgiving feast without the hefty price tag.
Avoid buying more than you need. For many American families, overindulgence is an unintentional Thanksgiving tradition. While you want to enjoy yourself and eat lots of delicious food, you don’t want to end up paying for more than you and your guests can eat. Instead, reframe your Thanksgiving dinner planning by limiting the number of dishes on the table and making only as many servings as you need.
Choose ingredients that can play double-duty. Instead of planning a menu full of very different dishes and a wide variety of ingredients, try to choose recipes that include similar ingredients so you only have to buy them once. For example, use the same herbs and spices in the stuffing that you do in the gravy, or prep enough pie crust to make two different types of pies instead of multiple desserts.
Make it a potluck. Make the main course(s) yourself, but invite each guest to contribute a side dish or dessert to cut down on dinner costs.
Skip the meat. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, you’re in luck: because turkey, ham, and other meats are often by far the biggest culprits when it comes to Thanksgiving spending, this type of meat-free Thanksgiving dinner is naturally cost-effective. Focus on colorful vegetables, plant-based protein alternatives, and savory sides for a budget-friendly Thanksgiving meal.
Encourage BYOB. If you don’t feel comfortable asking guests to contribute a dish, it may be easier to ask everyone to contribute their beverage of choice. Alcohol gets pricey very quickly, so this is a great way to ensure that everyone gets to sip what they want (and you don’t get stuck with the bill!).
Save your scraps. Keep food scraps out of the landfill by using them in other dishes. Vegetable peels and ends go well in a stuffing, while turkey trimmings and bones can be used to make broth or gravy.
Make leftovers last. Instead of letting Thanksgiving leftovers go to waste, plan how you’ll use them ahead of time. You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches, so be prepared for at least a week’s worth of Thanksgiving leftovers by planning to make turkey grilled cheese, pot pies, bone broth, hearty stews, or even cranberry sauce cocktails.
If you’re hosting a small gathering of 2 to 4 people, it is certainly possible to keep your shopping list under $100. We’ve mapped out an approach that covers only the basics, assuming that you have things like cooking oils, spices, and other pantry staples on hand. Here’s how to shop for all your Thanksgiving groceries at Thrive Market — for just under $100.
Total: About $99
Making Thanksgiving dinner from scratch is a great way to get the whole family together to cook a meal, and it doesn’t have to cost your whole paycheck. Here are some tasty, impactful Thanksgiving recipes that use affordable ingredients.
Garlic and Lemon Roasted Turkey
This turkey recipe proves that it just takes a few basic ingredients to make a flavorful Thanksgiving turkey.
Coconut Oil Basted Turkey
This 2-in-1 turkey recipe cooks the bird on a bed of root vegetables, so you get a turkey and sides in one easy step.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Vegan Herb Gravy
If you’re planning a plant-based Thanksgiving feast, it doesn’t get much more affordable than roasting a whole cauliflower in place of a turkey.
Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing
Freeze the ends of your favorite bread loaves to make this easy, flavorful mushroom stuffing.
Caramelized Leek, Onion, and Mushroom Stuffing with Hazelnuts
It looks (and tastes) fancy, but this simple-as-can-be stuffing is quick and affordable to make.
Pear and Caramelized Onion Stuffing
Slow-cooking the onions brings out a depth of flavor that’s balanced by the sweetness of the pears.
Laila Ali’s Cranberry Sauce
With just six simple ingredients, this cranberry sauce recipe comes together in no time.
Superberry-Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Three types of berries make this cranberry sauce tart, sweet, and full of nutritional benefits.
Olive Oil & Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Lighten up your usual dairy-heavy potatoes with this equally creamy recipe for mashed potatoes sans the cream and butter.
Vegan and Paleo Green Bean Casserole
Tasked with making a Thanksgiving dinner that works for vegan, paleo, Whole30®, gluten-free, and keto eaters? Miraculously, this affordable, updated take on the classic green bean casserole fits the bill!
A slightly sweet, vegan alternative to traditional mashed potatoes, this whipped side dish centers on parsnip, a root veggie similar in taste to carrots.
Samah Dada’s Massaged Kale Salad with Sweet Potato & Tahini
Chef and television personality Samah Dada’s autumnal kale salad is a Thanksgiving side salad that guests will actually eat (no food waste here!).
Pumpkin Swirled Mashed Potatoes With Vegan Rosemary Gravy
All it takes is a bag of russet potatoes, vegetable stock, and a few pantry staples (hint: you likely already have them on hand) to make this festive take on mashed potatoes.
Paleo Maple Pumpkin Pie With a Walnut-Pecan Crust
Store-bought pies are expensive — and paleo ones are usually even pricier. Make your own in under an hour with this sweet, spicy, nutty pie recipe.
Cranberry Pecan Apple Crumble Recipe
A crumble is a dessert that’s great for a group, which makes it a smart money-saving option for your Thanksgiving feast.
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