Thanksgiving can strain a tight grocery budget.
The computer paper with everything I’m cooking over the next two weeks is taped to my pantry door.
Dinner with friends. Family birthdays. Thanksgiving.
Hands down, I get the most excited about cooking for Thanksgiving.
About 30 people. Between the two families. For the trip across town to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving lunch. Dinner will be at my in-laws at 5p.
Cooking for family is my jam
Whole wheat rolls, after years of ‘skinny’ rolls that never rose right, now are tall and fluffy.
Homemade cranberry sauce with a hint of orange, cinnamon and a few walnuts sprinkled on top. None of the wobbly, ridged canned stuff.
Creamy mashed potatoes with fresh rosemary. Lots of butter. And my secret, ½ an onion cooked and mashed with the potatoes.
Let’s not forget the apple pie with the crumble top. My Grandma’s recipe and Grandpa’s favorite.
Who am I kidding, it’s everyone’s favorite and unless I stand guard over two skinny slices to take home, there’ll just be crumbs in the red ceramic pie dish.
I’ve made it so many times. It’s become Charissa’s apple pie.
Related: The Best Apple Pie Recipe (there’ll be zero leftovers!)
Trying to make my grocery budget stretch to cover all these potatoes and apples can be a tricky thing.
It’s hard enough to stick to a grocery budget on regular months, especially if you’re focused on managing expenses to put more towards your money goal.
In years past, I’ve cut back on how much I’ve spent on food in the four weeks prior. Eating a lot of mystery pantry meals.
But when I buy simple ingredients to stay within a tight food budget for my hubby and I - Thanksgiving comes and there’s an added cost of food for 30 people.
31 Ways to Save on Thanksgiving
Cook as much as you can and have each guest bring a dish that’s important to their family and traditions. There’s always enough food and once in awhile you get to try a new dish. It’s about the people, the food just fills the gaps!
Buy everything at least a month ahead, except for produce, so you don’t have a Big Thanksgiving shopping trip.
Have a fight with everyone and be left alone. Teasing!
Buy a prepared meal from the grocery store. Saves time, money and waste.
Related: Saving Money Like a Boss
- 6Have a potluck! Everyone brings a dish and a dessert.
- 7Go to Mom and Dad’s!
- 8Host Thanksgiving breakfast and then visit family. What a fun idea!
- 9Shop the sales all month long. Grocery University shows you how to get the most of out the sales and to stack coupons for even more savings.
- 10Don't cook.
- 11Use store brands where appropriate.
- 12Use regular dishes instead of disposable.
- 13Spend money on the food and don’t buy anything else.
- 14Reuse decor.
- 15Shop my list and make a plan for the holiday meals to reduce the waste.
- 16Downsize - too much food gets wasted.
- 17Cook football food.
- 18Make a menu - I love using eMeals every week to make a menu and they even have a special occasion menu plan.
- 19Eat as we normally do. Cook as much as we normally cook. Save money by no waste.
- 20Shop at U-Pick stores.
- 21Add a bag of frozen veggies with cheese if we run out of food.
- 22Garden and can the garden produce.
- 23Use Ibotta to earn cash rewards while shopping. You even get $10 as a bonus for signing up!
- 24Scan the same receipt with Fetch for even more cash rewards. Use my code FR6CK to get 2000 points (worth $2).
- 25Stock up on turkeys when on sale and freeze them because they feed a lot of tummies.
- 26We raise our own meat - cows, chickens, and pigs.
- 27Bake homemade bread and rolls. I love homemade bread fresh from the oven and always burn myself trying to cut the first piece and slather butter on it before the bread stops steaming.
- 28Cut out the extras that no one eats.
- 29Make our own food (which also adds the sentiment of love and family).
- 30Be grateful and enjoy our day. Gratitude makes everything taste better.
- 31Stock up on sale items after the holidays. Everything holiday related gets marked down to 75% as soon as the turkey's cooked.
Saving Money is Good...
You’ll enjoy the turkey and gravy, don’t forget about the apple pie, even more when you can save as much as you can.
Because when money’s tighter than you’d like, it’s easy to feel bad because you don’t have a lot of money to spend. And there’s this pressure from how, we assume, others look down on us for……
That we’re not measuring up.
Or when we’d love to do more, but right now there’s too many bills to pay off.
It’s a time to reflect on our blessings and be grateful
Can I remind you Thanksgiving isn’t about who spends the most. Or how much you spent. It’s about cherishing the time you have with family and friends.
Because you really don’t know how much longer you’ll have with them.
Last year, my Uncle Mark called me a few days before. He had an idea. We, meaning you Charissa, could mix up everyone’s name on a scrap piece of paper.
Then have everyone pick a name from the bowl. Share something nice that you appreciate about the person you picked.
Good idea. I can do that.
Then 7 minutes later, he called back again. Oh and what do you think about having a pile of conversation starters. You know, to ask questions. Get everyone to answer,
So I lead those two activities. My family sat around the table for 4 hours - never happens. And we talked. Laughed at some of the answers.
Uplifted by the thoughtful comments shared. Compliments not often spoken out loud but meant a lot and brought some to tears.
And we decided the appreciation circle needed to be our new tradition.
By all means, save as much as you can to be a wise steward of your money. And to continue to make progress on your money dreams.
Focus on your blessings and all the things you’re grateful for. Enjoy your family and ask conversation starters. Like if I were a pair of shoes, what kind would I be?
Cute… and comfortable heels. Even though I only have two pairs and they’re not super comfortable. Thanks for asking.
I have to sit on the blue cooler lid for it to close. It's time to head across town for lunch at my parents and dinner with my in-laws.
My hubs grunts as he swings the cooler up on his muscular shoulder to go down three flights of stairs.
It'll be much lighter tonight. With a dollap of cold mashed potatoes, 1-2 slices of pie and a few rolls leftover.
Grateful to have 30 members of family to cook for. And creative ways to save money on Thanksgiving.
Your turn… how do you save money on Thanksgiving? Tell me in the comments.
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!