How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

The smell of turkey roasting in the oven, a pumpkin pie cooling on the windowsill, and crunchy leaves surrounding your home means it must be time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving celebration, what’s meant to be a time of giving often winds up being a time to ruminate on the money spent to feed your extended families. Instead, celebrate with these tips to keep your wallet in check this Turkey Day.

The Main Course

We all know which must-have dishes get the center of the table on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, you can keep these main-course meals on the menu without compromising your budget. Check out these fast facts on today’s most beloved Thanksgiving foods.


One of the hallmarks of Thanksgiving is that sleepy feeling you get after eating your big celebration meal — a sensation caused by this traditional main course. No holiday celebration would be complete without it!

This meat costs around $1.36 per pound. You can feed 10 people for as little as $21.71.

You can prepare turkey in several ways.

  • Roasted
  • Deep-fried
  • Spatchcocked
  • Bacon-wrapped

Side Dishes

Many food lovers believe the real stars on Thanksgiving are the side dishes. It’s easy to keep them delicious and budget-friendly. When grocery shopping, keep in mind that the least expensive item isn’t always best.

Consider whether the meal’s quality and the time you spend searching for discounts are worth a lower price. Is the cheaper option just as mouth-watering as the name brands’? Do you have to spend hours clipping coupons for a couple of bucks in savings? Once you know what to look for, you can hit the store.


You can’t stuff yourself on Thanksgiving properly without potatoes. These starchy tubers are highly affordable at around $0.60 per pound.

You can prepare potatoes in countless ways.

  • Roasted with herbs
  • Baked with butter
  • Mashed with garlic and cream
  • Sliced and deep-fried

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a little pricier at about $1.05 per pound. However, they make an excellent addition to your feast.

Treat your guests to multiple sweet potato options at your Thanksgiving Day feast.

  • As a pie
  • In a casserole
  • Roasted with butter
  • Twice-baked with cinnamon


You can’t forget the greens. Peas cost around $0.99 per pound when canned and $1.66 per pound when frozen.

Instead of dumping your peas in a bowl and microwaving, consider a new way to prepare them.

  • Simply buttered
  • Sautéed with bacon
  • Mixed in a casserole
  • With carrots and pearl onions

The Green Beans

Green beans mix perfectly with a side of potatoes. They cost about $2.13 per pound fresh and $0.82 per pound canned.

Get creative with your side dishes this year. Try one of the ideas below.

  • Sautéed and topped with almonds
  • Roasted with garlic and shallots
  • In a casserole
  • Fried in butter


You don’t have to be a rabbit to enjoy carrots. They cost about $0.77 per pound fresh and $0.92 per pound canned.

You can chop and steam your carrots or try one of the yummy options below.

  • Roasted with thyme
  • Honey-glazed
  • Sautéed with butter and chives
  • Parmesan-crusted


Corn is a staple Thanksgiving dish. It cost around $3.26 per pound fresh and $0.85 per pound canned.

While corn on the cob may not be in season this time of year, you’ll still find plenty of ways to prepare it.

  • With butter and cream
  • As cornbread
  • Sautéed with tomatoes
  • As a salad with herbs

Don’t Forget Dessert

Pies are a ubiquitous Thanksgiving dessert. When it comes to your wallet, the most budget-friendly options are apple and pumpkin. Apples cost around $1.62 per pound, while canned pumpkin comes in at approximately $1.38 per pound.

Pecan pie, though a Thanksgiving favorite, could set you back nearly $15 per pound of pecans. That’s one expensive pie!

Sensational and Affordable Thanksgiving Recipes

Are you ready to host a Thanksgiving meal your family won’t soon forget? Then try one of the amazing recipes below. To stick to your budget at the grocery store, make a list of the essential items and only buy what you need — even if you have a coupon.

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

This mashed potato recipe is just as good as Grandma’s. First, gather all the necessary ingredients.

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into even slices. Place the slices into a medium saucepan and cover with cold, salted water. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until you can push through a piece with a fork.

Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain thoroughly. Then, return them to the hot pot, adding butter, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Stir in enough milk to make the mixture smooth and creamy.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Why not enjoy a sweet treat with the ones you love? To try this casserole recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium sweet potatoes, drained, and chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium-size baking pan, add sweet potatoes until they cover the bottom. Add the oatmeal mixture on top and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot or refrigerate and serve cold.

Easy Deep Dish Apple Pie

Apple pie is an American classic. Don’t forget to add vanilla ice cream to the shopping list below.

  • 1 pound large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon apple or pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pie crusts, frozen or homemade

Stir apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, and spices together in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside. Then, line a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan with one of your two crusts. Add the apple mixture on top, then cover with the remaining crust.

Cut three or four slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Pinch or use a fork to seal the top and bottom crusts together. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm and refrigerate any leftovers.

How to Save Money Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Aside from sticking to the least expensive ingredients, here are five more quick tips to save on your Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Make a list and check it twice: Making a shopping list and sticking to it is one of the best ways to keep to your holiday budget.
  • Check the local ads: Plan your meals around the sales at your local grocery stores or shop strategically to find the foods that fit your menu.
  • Shop your pantry: Double check your stock at home before buying more of what you have.
  • Avoid specialty ingredients: Consider using recipes that don’t require any herbs or spices you don’t regularly use.
  • Dollar store decor: Peruse your local dollar store to find the perfect Thanksgiving decor.

Don’t stress about money on the holidays. Instead, reflect on what you have and be thankful. Have another scoop of mashed potatoes and take a slice of pumpkin pie. You cooked for Thanksgiving on a budget and delivered a sensational meal.

Want to save even more while you’re shopping? Make your Thanksgiving meal purchases with our Founder’s Card, which allows you to earn 2% or 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase.*

Want to learn how to save after Turkey Day? Find more money management tips and resources on our WalletWorks page.

*You can earn 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. You can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases if you maintain a PSECU checking account and qualifying monthly direct deposit(s) of at least $500. See the Visa® Founder’s Card and Visa® Alumni Rewards Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditions for full details.

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