The ultimate guide to a budget-friendly Thanksgiving dinner 


Does Thanksgiving make your mouth water, dreaming of your favorite pumpkin or sweet potato pie recipes? Are you ready to pull out your crowd-pleasing stuffing recipe or are you a cautious cook easing into the kitchen for the first time? 

No matter what your culinary skill level, it's easy to make a delicious Thanksgiving meal on a budget. Just follow these simple tips to make these delicious dishes, all without breaking the bank.

»RELATED: How to safely thaw your Thanksgiving turkey

Here are seven ways you can trim the Turkey Day budget, yet still enjoy all that Thanksgiving has to offer:

The Turkey

Shop around for the best deal on turkey, as many grocery stores will be offering steep discounts on the bird to entice people in the door. For smaller dinners, consider getting a couple of game hens - they'll be just as yummy and won't leave you grumbling over leftover turkey sandwiches for weeks. For larger gatherings, plan on getting a turkey large enough to feed each guest about one to one and half pounds of meat. The folks over at The Kitchen have assembled this excellent guide for first-time turkey buyers.

Appetizers

As your holiday guests arrive, you can offer up some cheap but scintillating appetizers with a few basic ingredients and a little pizzazz. The frugal living blog Fun, Cheap, or Free offers up these yummy ideas for appetizers you can whip up in no time that will still impress even the pickiest mother-in-law. 

Baked brie with jam, cranberry salsa, or baked jalapeno poppers are all guaranteed to keep your guests happy while you put the finishing touches on your holiday meal. 

Drinks

If you're really making this meal on a shoestring budget, consider asking a trusted guest to pick up a few bottles of wine. Southern Living has compiled a great list of non-alcoholic drinks, including some interesting twists on classic sweet tea. Pop Sugar has a perfect seasonal recipe for Cranberry Champagne Cocktails to offer the adults. And don't forget that presentation makes even a store-bought beverage look fantastic. Head to your local thrift store for mason jars or other decorative containers to serve your drinks in. And don't forget that lemon wedge!

Sides

Classic Thanksgiving sides are already pretty cheap - potatoes, corn, bread, and green beans will get you pretty far. Over at the Prudent Penny Pincher, they've compiled over 200 sides that are budget friendly. And with recipes like cheesy crock pot mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, butternut squash gratin, and cranberry pecan stuffing, you are sure to find cheap, easy recipes that will make even the pickiest guest happy. 

Desserts

Desserts are the real reason everyone has gathered for this Thanksgiving meal, so stick to two or three desserts that really shine. Pie crusts are incredibly easy to make and freeze in advance, bringing a little homemade touch to your dessert selection. And, after you've had your first taste of homemade whipped cream, you'll never buy the stuff in the can again. Real Simple offers some easy Thanksgiving desserts - like chocolate bread pudding - for anyone who wants to venture beyond pumpkin pie this holiday.

Kids

This holiday offers plenty of fun options, even for picky eaters. Check out this fantastic list from Parenting, for great, kid-friendly holiday foods like "ice cream" mashed potatoes and carrot and pumpkin turkey snacks. 

Leftovers

Don't forget to use those leftovers smartly. Country Living has scrumptious leftover ideas like sweet potato kale frittatas, slow cooker turkey chili, harvest pumpkin soup and cranberry turnovers. Use leftovers in creative ways so you and your family don't burn out on them, and make sure to freeze anything you won't use in a timely manner. 

Whatever delicious recipes you choose, be sure to make a list and stick to it. Do you homework in advance, scoping out the best deals at your local grocery stores. Shopping with a list (and not when you're hungry) is a tried and true strategy for sticking to your budget. With these tips, you are sure to pull off a spectacular holiday meal. 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

‘Anyone can kill’: Dayton detective Doyle Burke talks Jolynn Ritchie, the microwave baby killer and axe murders in Dayton in podcast
‘Anyone can kill’: Dayton detective Doyle Burke talks Jolynn Ritchie, the microwave baby killer and axe murders in Dayton in podcast

Anyone can kill.  That’s one of the lessons Doyle Burke, a retired Dayton homicide detective, said he took from his 30-year career with the city’s police department.  Burke, now the Warren County coroner’s chief investigator, sat down with “What Had Happened Was” host Amelia Robinson to talk about some...
What makes the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill different from the rest
What makes the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill different from the rest

The historic Clifton mill, built in 1802 and still working, will open its Legendary Lights on Friday, Nov. 23. Here’s what you need to know about the Legendary Lights: Unlike other lighting festivals where the lights are already on when you arrive, Clifton Mill stages a dramatic opening where people who arrive at 6 p.m. get to see all four million...
Pastor criticized for ‘distasteful’ Aretha Franklin eulogy coming to Dayton, standing by message  
Pastor criticized for ‘distasteful’ Aretha Franklin eulogy coming to Dayton, standing by message  

An Atlanta pastor heavily criticized for focusing on the ills of the black family at singer Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be the special guest at a Dayton church Sunday, Nov. 18.  On Thursday, Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor emeritus of Atlanta’s Salem Bible Church, said he did not know yet exactly what he will say as part...
‘Real Housewives’ star coming to Centerville
‘Real Housewives’ star coming to Centerville

A “Real Housewives” star with a “rags to riches” story is heading to Centerville. Emily Simpson, a 1994 graduate of Middletown’s Madison High School, is scheduled to make a special appearance at Turbo Zone Fitness, 7917 S Suburban Drive, Centerville, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, Erica Monbeck...
Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree
Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

While it may never reach the level of controversy of how to hang the toilet paper roll or which way to load the dishwasher, the right time to put up the Christmas tree is a heavily-debated household topic. There are answers to this question that depend on everything from Prince Albert to the opinion of tree growers to something called Adelaide...
More Stories