A Memorable, Yet Frugal, Thanksgiving

A memorable Thanksgiving doesn’t have to break the bank.

It’s November already, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you’re like me, you will be hosting your family this year. I love hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but if I don’t watch it, the expenses quickly add up.

Here are some tips for a frugal, relaxed, and memorable Thanksgiving.

Plan Ahead

The time to start shopping for Thanksgiving dinner is now. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you’ll be seeing sales and coupons for many traditional Thanksgiving foods. Clip those coupons and match them with sales to get the best deals.

And when it comes to buying a Turkey, plan to buy it when you do your weekly grocery shopping. Most grocery stores run specials where you can get an inexpensive turkey, if you spend $50 or more. It’s a great deal, if you’re already doing your weekly shopping. It’s not a great deal, if you buy $50 worth of stuff you don’t need, just to get the deal on the turkey.

By spending a little bit of money each week leading up to Thanksgiving, you won’t be hit with the huge Thanksgiving grocery bill at the end of the month.

Focus on Relationships

Good food on Thanksgiving is an important part of the day, but try to make your focus on enjoying each other’s company. Participate in traditions that build your family and your relationships, yet don’t cost a lot of money.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is our Thanksgiving journal. Each year, everyone who attends our Thanksgiving dinner has to write down what they’re thankful for in our journal. It’s fun to look back and remember the things we were Thankful for in years past. And in the future, our children will be able to enjoy the written thoughts of their grandparents.

Other frugal, yet meaningful traditions are going around the table and telling everyone what you’re thankful for or having everyone sign the Thanksgiving tablecloth in permanent ink. These traditions will provide memories that last far beyond Thanksgiving leftovers.

Prepare Your Meal in Advance

I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but I don’t like to miss out on all the visiting that takes place on Thanksgiving day. My solution is to make as much ahead of time as possible. The night before Thanksgiving, my meal is pretty much all prepared and in casserole dishes in the refrigerator.

On Thanksgiving day, I cook the turkey, and then warm up the side dishes as the turkey is resting and being carved.

Some great make-ahead recipes are:

With a little planning, you can have a frugal Thanksgiving that you’ll remember fondly for many years to come.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

13 thoughts on “A Memorable, Yet Frugal, Thanksgiving”

  1. This is an excellent article! I am sharing the link to it in an upcoming Thanksgiving issue of HEARTH AND HOME. Thanks so much for sharing! God bless and have a Happy Thanksgiving 2011! <3

  2. MAKE sure you cook the wild rice if you decide to use it before adding it to the boxed mix from Aldis Also make sure you follow the directions on the stuffing box before adding the mushrooms, cooked wild rice and water chestnuts. MIX well and pile into a casserole dish and refrigerate until ready to bake.

  3. 2 things I do for a relaxed Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I buy the KROGER frozen chunked hashbrowns in a bag. I then thaw them out and mix them with 2 or 3 cans of potatoe soup. Top with shreadded cheddar and wrap securely and place in refrigerator up to 2 days ahead. Bake till bubbly. My family just loves these.

    For stuffing, I buy stuffing mix at Aldi’s, add 1 cup wild rice and 2-3 drained cans of mushrooms. mix well and place in baking dish and refrigerate until ready to heat up. You can also add extra choppped onion OR chopped water chestnuts for crunch. Doing my stuffing this way saves time on Christmas day, and a large amount costs less than $5.00.

    LEFTover turkey is used for Turkey Tetrazzini and my family LOVES the recipe on http://www.campbellskitchen.com. My daughter says she likes this better than the actual Thanksgiving dinner. I make it and pack it up in small containers so she can take them to work for lunch.

  4. You can also use the crockpot for cooking stuffing, or warming or keeping warm mashed potatoes. Just make sure you give the mashed potatoes enough time to warm up.

  5. Linda, that’s a good question! Our Thanksgivings are generally pretty small.

    If you have a large Thanksgiving with people bringing various dishes, I’d probably either mention the number of servings needed when you tell them what to bring, or assign multiple people to different dishes…like have 3 different people bring mashed potatoes, etc.

    If you figure out a solution, be sure to come back and let us know what worked!

  6. My husband comes from a large family, I ask people what they would like to bring(extended family 36,we had 41 one year) How do I explain that they need more than 8 servings? One year we ran out of alot, because I am the out-law I was mortified. Any hints, suggestions, etc.

  7. Lynnae,
    Just like most guys, I would have to say that my fave Thanksgiving tradition is eating too much turkey and then having leftover turkey sandwiches. I love turkey and I can’t really get enough!

  8. I made the make ahead mashed potatoes last year–they were AMAZING!! I also make the hash brown casserole and green bean casserole ahead of time…just hold the crunchies till you reheat :)

    Thanks for a great post!

  9. Our Thanksgivings have been extremely frugal thru the years, and we get a kick out of seeing just how little the dinner cost us. This is one of those meals where having a garden and baking ahead make the whole meal very very frugal.

    Usually the turkey is $4-$5 and that’s the biggest expense, except for some flour and butter and spices.
    Almost everything else (oh, except for the olives and cranberries) comes out of the garden or is homemade, such as bread, gravy,stuffing, pie crusts. The veggies will all be out of the garden, including the potatoes. Sage, celery, and herbs from the garden also.

    So usually, we get by for under $10 for the whole family with scads of leftovers :)

    My kids like Leftover Turkey Pie – a Tradition. We take pie tins, press in a layer of stuffing, put in a layer of mashed potatoes, add some chopped up turkey and maybe a veggie over the potatoes, then pour some giblet gravy on top. Each kids’ family usually takes at least one home, and I freeze some for later. They are wonderful for a quick meal later. Obviously tho, one has to plan for this and cook plenty for leftovers while cooking :)

    The other family joke is: How do you make a pumpkin pie? First you wash the pumpkin, then you pressure cook the pumpkin til mushy….. and then they all laugh, knowing that their pies are always homemade :)

  10. Also get rid of that idea that if you’re hosting you have to make everything. Make it a potluck. This year I bought the turkey (a local free-range one) and all the other family members are making everything else.


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