Thanksgiving is the mother of all Dinner Parties!
The cost of Thanksgiving dinner can be high in a regular year. But with growing inflation and rising prices on everything including gas, energy, and food, you might be worried about the cost of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year.
According to Politico, grocery prices are predicted to increase by 11 percent by the end of 2022. While that is true for all food categories, prices of milk, eggs, fruits, poultry, and beef will be affected the most. The real reason for this is high inflation and supply chain issues.
Dinner is the biggest expense of Thanksgiving. People usually spend a lot of money preparing a variety of traditional Thanksgiving dishes including the giant roasted turkey. Luckily, there are many ways to prepare an inexpensive Thanksgiving dinner.
I have several practical tips to help you host a Thanksgiving dinner even on a tight budget.
Make a plan.
If you are traditionally a guest, you have an easy role to play, and probably do not need to set a great deal of money aside to have a Thanksgiving dinner party successful. If you are the host, the holiday celebration is going to be more complicated.
When you host an event, you have to start with a plan. The first thing to do is decide what your holiday budget will be. This first step will determine everything from what kind of food you will be serving to how many people you will invite.
While we want to make Thanksgiving special for our family and loved ones, sometimes it becomes a challenge between hosting a perfect holiday dinner and cutting the costs of it.
Put together a guest list.
How many people will be attending your party? The guest list will determine how big is your turkey, how much food you will have to cook, and where you are going to seat all your guests. Cooking for twenty people costs more than cooking for four.
Hence, the larger your group, the greater the grocery bill.
Create your Thanksgiving menu.
Once you have decided on your guest list, it’s time to plan the menu. When it comes to decide what dishes will be served on Thanksgiving, every family has its own traditions.
My menu looks something like that:
- One or two appetizers – stuffed mushrooms or baked brie in puff pastry
- Turkey roasted with celery, onions, carrots, and parsnip
- Potato au gratin or mashed potatoes
- Roasted Brussels sprouts or green beans
- Honey glazed carrots
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Dinner rolls
- Coffee and dessert
If you want to cut the costs of your Thanksgiving dinner, do not be shy asking your guests to bring something. You cannot be responsible for everything this year such as food, beverages, desserts, and decorations.
Thanksgiving is all about everyone sharing the meal. Why not make it easy on yourself this year and prepare a list of what you need when guests ask how they can contribute.
Prepare your grocery list.
When you are ready, you can create a grocery list from this menu. Do not presume that you have all the ingredients. Check the cupboards and pantry. Staying organized will help you avoid running to the supermarket the day before Thanksgiving.
Never go to the grocery store without a shopping list. It is important to stick to your list.
Throwing random things into your cart will end up costing you more than your planned budget. Keep a running list on your phone (I use the Notes app on my phone) with the items you need to shop for. This way, you can check items off as you toss them into your shopping cart.
Get your shopping done early to avoid the holiday crowds.
Another way to cut the burden of the grocery bill is to start buying your ingredients several weeks ahead of time. Consider buying a few items each week before Thanksgiving and buying the ingredients when they are on sale.
Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner:
1. Cook dinner from scratch.
We all know that we pay for convenience while ordering a pre-cooked meal. Prepared food whether it be from a restaurant, take-out, or from the grocery store, is generally more expensive than cooking your own meal from scratch.
But with a little extra time and planning, cooking Thanksgiving dinner from scratch can save you a lot of money. I know it is tempting to go with instant mashed potatoes or pre-made pies. But you will pay more for these conveniences.
I make my own mashed potatoes. Making potato au gratin or mashed potatoes from scratch is way cheaper and it tastes more delicious than the one from the box.
Making your own pies is pretty simple as well, even though time-consuming process. I have to admit I do not make my pie crust from scratch because I buy ready-made ones. But I always make my own pies and they taste homemade without all the work.
You may not feel like you are saving money, but the savings will really add up to your final grocery bill.
2. Save money by buying frozen vegetables.
You can save a lot of money by buying frozen vegetables instead of fresh produce.
It is hard for retailers to keep their prices low on produce when they have to ship it out from warmer climates to colder areas. Frozen vegetables contain the same nutrients as fresh produce. In the end, you will not notice any change in quality if your veggies come straight off the frozen shelf.
3. Use canned goods.
I am not a big fan of canned goods. But I have to admit that canned goods can be a frugal cook’s best friend.
Canned goods contain plenty of flavors and are required fewer steps to make them ideal for a party meal. Hence, you can successfully add some canned goods to your Thanksgiving dinner recipes.
When cooking mashed potatoes, use canned chicken broth or warm milk instead of water to make them more flavorful. Also, canned cranberry sauce is a great addition to roasted turkey thanks to its sweetness.
While spending the day cooking and preparing a meal for the party, you need to make sure that you get to enjoy that day too. Think about what you can do to save time. If any foods that can be prepared in advance, then get them ready and save time for other items.
4. Host a Thanksgiving “Potluck” dinner.
Hosting a Thanksgiving potluck dinner can make things a lot easier on you and more affordable.
If you are hosting a large group of people, consider making the turkey and a few simple side dishes. Then ask your guests to bring their favorite dish or dessert. Most people would like to contribute.
Also, if you are really short on funds you can invite people for appetizers and desserts instead of an entire meal. No one is forcing you to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You can always invite people and prepare a big dinner next year when food prices are lower and your finances are in better shape.
5. Split the cost of alcohol.
Alcohol is expensive and can run your bill up quickly.
You can split the cost of alcohol with your guests. Ask your guests to bring their beverage of choice. Also, you can delegate to one or two of your guests to be in charge of bringing a bottle or two of alcohol.
6. Plan for leftovers.
It is always a smart idea to make a little extra food, so you have enough leftovers.
Foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and roasted veggies can become the main ingredients of another dish. This will give you the option to make lunches or dinners for a day or two after the crazy busy Thanksgiving weekend. There is nothing better than having your meals prepared without relying on your other groceries or cooking.
However, I often find myself tired of eating leftovers after 2-3 days, so I prefer to freeze them. After a few weeks, I can make a quick meal out of my freezer without going grocery shopping.
How to save money on Thanksgiving party décor.
One of the best parts of planning a party is picking out decorations.
I really love decorating our home for Thanksgiving – it’s so much fun. I usually use what I have. Over the years, I have purchased a few autumn-inspired décor items which pair well with fresh flowers, candles, and seasonal items like pretty small pumpkins and gourds.
You can always dress up your home with inexpensive Thanksgiving decorations from local stores. Hence, buy quality but cheap decorations that can be reused. Store discounts on autumn-themed decorations offer great deals on tableware, candles, centerpieces made of wood and flowers, faux pumpkins, and more.
Also, check your stock from the last year. You would be surprised how much money gets wasted when we buy a similar item.
Select a theme for your Thanksgiving party and then decide on a few pieces that fit your style by using your own resources.
If you are working with a small budget, there is no need to get excessive with the décor. Grab some supplies and create handmade décor pieces. DIY Thanksgiving decorations allow you to add your own special touch to the party.
Your dining room table will be the star of the show at the Thanksgiving party. As a host, you will want to make sure to dress it up to the best!
The perfect way to dress your table for Thanksgiving dinner is to have a table setting complete with seasonal-style décor. Set the scene and use your best china dinner plates, glassware, utensils, cloth napkins, and placemats. Add a few customized items like a table runner, napkin rings, and a centerpiece.
We all know that Thanksgiving is the time for family and friends. Therefore, we do not need to spend a huge amount of money on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner party to have an amazing holiday!
What are some of your favorite ideas for hosting your Thanksgiving dinner on a budget?
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