How to Save Money on Thanksgiving

I love thanksgiving. Probably because I love just about everything about fall, and I love food. But thanksgiving can add up in a hurry, because usually lots of food is involved. There are ways you can save money on thanksgiving though.

ways to save money on thanksgiving

Here in Canada our Thanksgiving is quite early compared to the US. Ours is usually around the second week of October.

That’s probably why us Canadians are also thinking about Christmas long in advance. After Thanksgiving we think about Halloween, but after Halloween Christmas is heavily on the mind-especially every time you walk in a store because the shelves are covered in Christmas paraphernalia by that time.

Actually, I’ve seen Christmas stuff out already. Weeks ago. In early September.

Sigh. Too soon, stores, too soon.

Anyways, this post is NOT about Christmas. It’s about Thanksgiving. So let’s get back to the real focus here.

Many of us have get-togethers with others during the holidays and as wonderful as they can be, they can also add up in a hurry, especially if you are hosting. If you overspend then in the end you can be left feeling discouraged with an empty bank account.

But there are ways you can keep costs down to make it more affordable. Let’s look at those ways.


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Make your list with lots of time to spare.

Don’t wait till the last minute to make a list of everything you need. Start the list weeks in advance so that you can buy a little at a time in the weeks leading up to your big celebration.

Shop weeks in advance.

You won’t be able to buy everything weeks in advance, especially perishable food. However, you can buy things like non-perishables, or things you can freeze. You may be able to get what you need when it is on sale. Keep your eye out for when the price drops and stock up for what you need in advance.

Frozen turkeys often go on sale in the weeks leading up to thanksgiving. You can also use apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta that will give you cash-back coupons for your groceries.

Keep an eye on the flyers that come out and use any coupons you can to combine savings. Buy generic brands as well to save money.

Make food from scratch.

You can save money by making foods like dinner rolls, pies, and desserts from scratch. You don’t have to make these the day of or the day before either. You can make them whenever is convenient for you and then freeze them until the holiday.

Use what you have.

Check your pantry, freezer, and fridge and see what you can use that you may already have. If you have a garden base your side dishes on what your garden is producing at the time, or if it isn’t producing, base it on what you may have canned from the garden.

Buy in bulk

If you have a lot of people coming for Thanksgiving dinner, buy in bulk. Often you can save money by buying food this way.

Use frugal decorations

I always find decorating for fall holidays really easy. Nature is such a big part of the season, you can easily go outside and find your decorations. Things like leaves and pinecones are perfect for thanksgiving. You can also buy pumpkins to decorate and use them to make pumpkin pie later in the month!

If you really want to buy some decorations, consider heading to the dollar store. There are a ton of nice decorations you can get there for a small budget.

Remember that simple can be a nice look. You don’t need to go overboard to have a beautiful thanksgiving.


Use those leftovers

When cooking for thanksgiving there are usually leftovers. Make the most out of your food by using the leftovers instead of letting them get lost in the fridge only to go bad. Make multiple meals from your thanksgiving food.

Make it a potluck

Get others to bring a side dish, dessert, or rolls to lessen the financial burden. Most people are more than happy to contribute and would actually prefer it if they could!

Get a headcount – the earlier the better

You don’t want to buy and cook a bunch of food for people that may not be able to make it to your thanksgiving celebration. Make sure you get a headcount before you go shopping and only buy for how many people are actually able to make it. You’re bound to still end up with leftovers regardless!

Go easy on the appetizers

Appetizers are nice to have but aren’t necessary. Often what happens is people eat too much of the appetizers that they aren’t as hungry by dinner time. Plus, you need to save room for dessert. 🙂 If you want to do appetizers just keep it to a couple as opposed to a whole spread.


Use seasonal produce for side dishes

When considering what side dishes you want to make, consider using seasonal produce because it will be cheaper. This can also go for dessert. Pumpkin pies are the perfect in season dessert. For side dishes you can make something with squash, carrots, or potatoes to make use of season produce.


Cook multiple dishes together

Thanksgiving requires a lot of energy and that adds up. When baking desserts be sure to bake a few together at the same time. Do the same for the food you cook on Thanksgiving.



Thanksgiving can be enjoyable, even if you have a tight budget.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to look the same every year.  Don’t let lack of funds stress you out over the holidays.  There are so many ways to enjoy Thanksgiving even if you don’t have a lot of money.  Remember to just enjoy the day!

Do you have some ways you save money on Thanksgiving that aren’t on this list?  I’d love to hear about them.  Leave it in the comments below.

and Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

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