According to data from the American Farm Bureau Federation, in 2015, the average American family spent $50.11 for their Thanksgiving dinner. That’s more than twice as much as they spent in 1987, when a 10-person turkey dinner cost just $24.51.
And those prices don’t account for the seconds and thirds that your guests are likely to devour at a typical family feast. That figure also doesn’t include the cost of alcohol if you enjoy a glass of wine with your turkey,
Even adjusted for inflation, Thanksgiving dinner is getting more and more expensive, especially if you’re the host.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Here are five easy ways to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.
1. Plan Ahead
Before you start buying, create a Thanksgiving dinner budget and then design your menu based on that budget. Check your guest list and make sure you know how many you’re actually cooking for then determine how much you are able to spend on each guest. By doing this, you can shop for the ingredients you need, plan out your shopping list in advance and cut down on leftovers and waste.
2. Shop Strategically
Knowing when and how to shop at your local supermarkets can be a big way to save. Some supermarkets will actually offer a free turkey if you buy a certain amount of groceries on a given day. Others will offer special coupons and sales for Thanksgiving. A single day’s difference in when you shop, or how you shop can make a big difference.
3. Keep It Simple
Many of us are tempted to go overboard with holiday cooking. We splurge on expensive ingredients and make lots of dishes that wind up being half eaten. Instead, keep it simple, make the dishes that you know everyone will enjoy and save the expensive dishes for another day.
4. BYOD – Bring your Own Dish
As the holiday host, you should take responsibility for the food you serve, but there’s no reason that everything has to fall on your shoulders. Ask your guests to contribute a side dish, dessert or beverage to the table. Your guests will appreciate the opportunity to make something they know they’ll enjoy, and show off their cooking skills. Just make sure you coordinate who’s bringing what, otherwise you could end up with five green-bean casseroles and no dessert.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about spending money. Instead, consider volunteering at your local soup kitchen as an alternative to hosting a big feast. You still get to cook, you get the satisfaction of helping others, and you gain a deeper appreciation of everything that you do have.
Need help to determine how much to spend on your Thanksgiving dinner budget? We’ve got you covered. Our Ultimate Holiday Budget Spreadsheet includes resources that will let you create a budget for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the whole holiday season. Not only will it show you how to best spend your Thanksgiving budget, but it will also help you determine how your Thanksgiving budget fits into your budget for the whole season.
Want to create a budget for after the holidays?
Schedule a free counseling session today or call us at 800-920-2262.