Thanksgiving on a budget can be tricky. Food is mad expensive, yo. If you have certain political beliefs about where your food comes from, how it is processed and by who (like I do) then buying locally or organic can add dollars onto an alright hefty price tag. Food costs so much money, it’s downright offensive and since Thanksgiving is all about food, those dollars can add up. I say skip the organic shiz on Thanksgiving because it is too costly and it is also a day of overindulging. If you can afford, all the better but if you’re a college student hosting a group of friends or a recent grad, it’s better to spend money wisely.
Buy Chicken, Not Turkey
Chicken is less expensive and tastes almost identical to turkey anyway. Instead of a giant turkey, grab two chickens and oven roast ’em.
Chicken: $1.49 per pound x 12 pounds = $17.88 vs. Turkey: $1.99 per pound x 12 pounds = $23.88
Canned Food, Canned Food! Boxed Food, Boxed Food!
Candied yams are just as good out of a can and won’t cost you more than a couple of dollars. Since you’re cooking to feed many mouths, it’s way cheaper to buy two or three cans then a bunch of sweet potatoes, maple syrup, cream, etc. . Cranberry sauce from a can, also is the best cranberry sauce.
Canned Yams: 40 oz. can of candied yams = $1.69 x 3 = $5.07 vs. Homemade Yams:4 Yams ($2.00) + Butter ($2.50) + Sugar ($2.50) + Heavy Whipping Cream ($2.99) + Maple Syrup ($5.99) = $15.98
Canned Cranberry Sauce: 14 oz. $1.20 x 2 = $2.40 vs. Homemade Cranberry Sauce: 12. 0z bag of cranberries ($2.50 x 2 =$5.00) + Sugar ($2.50) = $7.50
Gravy Mix $ .85 vs. Homemade Gravy: 2 lb bag of flour ($2.89) + vegetable oil ($3.89) + 1 gallon of milk ($3.99) = $10.77
However, Choose Where To Scale Back Wisely
Boxed mashed potatoes are tragedy unto us all. You still want to enjoy the meal. A bag of potatoes isn’t too expensive anyway. Not to mention sometimes, it’s less costly to make certain things yourself, for example, while there is no stuffing better than boxed stuffing it’s about the same to make it from scratch.
Boxed/Bagged Stuffing: 14 oz bag 3.99 x 2 = $7.98 vs. Homemade Stuffing: 1 Bread Loaf ($2.99) + Butter ($2.50) + Chicken Broth $(2.29) = $7.78
Boxed Mashed Potatoes: 24 oz. $2.40 vs. Homemade Mashed Potatoes: 5lb bag of potatoes ($2.50) + 1 gallon of milk ($3.99) +
butter ($2.50) (since we’ve already purchased a 4-pack of butter for the stuffing) = $6.49
Buy frozen vegetables in bulk. Preparation can be a little tricky, but typically if you plan on grilling or roasting them, they taste much better if you completely defrost them first. Most microwaves have defrost settings but if you don’t have microwave access, leave veggies out the night before or boil them the day of.
Frozen Green Beans: 32 oz. $2.50 vs. Fresh Green Beans: 32 oz. $3.99
Pumpkin pie will be pricey especially because it’s in demand, plus it tends to be packaged in smaller quantities. Opt for cookies instead. To give them that home-y touch buy ready-made cookie dough.
Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough: 36 oz. $5.19 vs. Pumpkin Pie: 22 oz. $4.49 x 2 = $8.98
Your guests should be the ones bringing over wine. After all, it’s only customary to bring a dish and you did shell out for all this food.
Total Cost: $30.48 Total Savings: $37.21
Keep in mind, these prices don’t account for spices like: salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. If you’re cabinet isn’t already stocked then those will add up as well (so head over to your local dollar store instead of the supermarket for those). These prices are of course relative to where you live and specific to the market I’ve chosen, though I’ve averaged the prices. Good luck!