Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner on a Tight Budget

Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner on a Tight Budget

Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season and we celebrate it with a feast. Some may equate the word ‘feast’ with lavish or extravagant, but hosting Thanksgiving dinner on a tight budget is certainly, definitely, absolutely possible. Read on to find out how.

Soups, Appetizers and Salads

Whip up some roasted butternut squash soup. Open a can of tuna and make tuna salad on crackers. Make a simple Cobb salad. You can also buy one ingredient and cook it three ways, e.g., potato soup, potato chips, potato salad. You can get wholesale price by buying in bulk at stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club. These help give your guests a filling Thanksgiving meal, but serve something light, so your guests still have room for the main course. And did you know that eating low-calorie soup before a meal can help cut back on calories? I mean that’s a big plus, right?

Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner on a Tight Budget

Find a Turkey Alternative

Yes, I said it. Just think of it this way. You’ve already had turkey on Thanksgiving numerous times in your lifetime. Why not change it up this year and serve roasted chicken or roasted pork loin instead? These are less expensive alternatives for turkey, especially when stores jack up turkey prices this time of year. Chicken and pork take less time to cook than turkey, too, giving you extra time to focus on your other preparations.


Dessert is probably the easiest to plan for. You can just buy cookies, mini pastries or other bite-sized treats and set up a mini dessert bar. It will look very festive, but will not be expensive. Or how about a hot chocolate bar? Hot chocolate is considered both as a beverage and a dessert. Your guests can choose their own add-ins like white or dark chocolate chips, marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, etc.

You can also just serve something as simple as fruits. I remember my mom used to cut up fruits, chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes and then drizzle with condensed milk before serving. It was yummy and all of us kids loved it!

Finally, enjoy the season. Budgeting can be very stressful, especially during the holidays. In the end it’s not what we have, but the people we share it with that really matters.

Do you have any budget-friendly tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner? Let me know through email or in the Comments section below. I would love to hear from you!


  1. I remember one year when the kids and I had just ham sandwiches on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t about the big meal, it was about spending that time together as a family! Was one of the best holidays we had.

  2. I love the idea of the hot chocolate bar instead of serving desserts! You could make one of those crockpot hot cocoa recipes up ahead of time and leave everything for the drink bar out after all the supper dishes have been cleared away. It might even encourage some folks to choose a non-alcoholic drink later in the evening, as well!

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