Three Step Guide for a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

by Kaitlyn Ranze |

There’s more to Thanksgiving than dressing the turkey, mashing the potatoes, and not burning the pies. That’s why we’re looking beyond your Thanksgiving menu, and finding ways to save this Turkey Day.

Here’s a three-step guide to a budget-friendly Thanksgiving that goes beyond your spending.

Planning Your Thanksgiving

Some of the worst tragedies in the kitchen and at the table are the result of a lack of proper preparation. Avoid a burnt bird and burned feelings by planning ahead.

  • Be strategic. Whether or not you’re comfortable with an in-person celebration, planning ahead is crucial.
    • Create a seating arrangement to reduce drama – Don’t sit Tina next to Tom if they hate each other’s guts.
    • Map out your meal with recipes you’ve executed in the past.
  • Compile recipes and all of your ingredients in advance.
  • Don’t be afraid to tweak the traditional! Or skip them altogether. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, not the turkey. (Sorry, Turkey. )
  • Cut yourself some slack and order a pre-made meal ahead of time.
  • If you’re planning to travel, buy your tickets well in advance.

(For more travel savings tips, check out this article.)

Budget-friendly alternatives to a traditional turkey dinner

  1. Roast chicken (to up the frugality, go with chicken thighs)
  2. Vegetarian stuffed pumpkin
  3. Shepard’s Pie
  4. Roast only the turkey breast

Executing the Thanksgiving Day plans.

If you’re pulling up a seat to the Thanksgiving table or keeping it virtual, let’s talk about your execution.

  • Prepare – Do what you can ahead of time. Never underestimate the power of pre-cut vegetables to speed things along.
  • Think outside the (oven) box
    • Your cooler is insulated so if you’re running out of fridge space, you can use it as an overflow OR use it as a warmer.
    • Thermos is great for keeping gravy warm while you’re working on other things
    • Utilize your slow cooker – You can use it to keep your sides warm like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese or go a little less traditional and skip the turkey. Make your meal a pot roast. Or a veggie burger. Or a pizza. Eat what inspires gratitude.
  • Delegate – Traditional Thanksgiving calls for a team so pass the ball to your teammates.
    • Potluck anyone?
    • Who is setting the table?
    • Who is cleaning?
    • Who is keeping the kids or difficult family members entertained / out of the way?

Be sure to enjoy your budget-friendly Thanksgiving

The culmination of your planning and execution: enjoyment.

But there’s more to it than pulling up a chair to eat. Think of ways to enjoy this holiday MORE.

  • Gratitude has been shown to improve your overall wellness so break out the pen and paper. Whether or not you share it with others, a list of all you are grateful for could be more meaningful than any side dish.
  • Break bread virtually
  • With a pot-luck, everyone brings a dish, but maybe you’re honoring the stay-at-home orders. Focus on what everyone can bring to the conversation. Everyone can bring one photo, story, or talent to the video conference. Just because you’re not tasting the same thing, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same things.
  • Not into show-and-tell or story time? Try charades.
  • Drop off Thanksgiving care packages in the mail. Baked goods store well and can be shipped quickly and they’re sure to bring a grin to any loved one’s face. (Concerned about germs? Check out this how-to.)

There’s a lot of fun and opportunity in making up new traditions. What better time to get started, make new memories, and practice gratitude than during Thanksgiving 2020 despite Covid?


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