I’m usually in charge of organizing Thanksgiving dinner in our family. While I love having our extended family over, I’m really not keen on spending a week’s grocery budget on one meal. I’ve come up with practical ideas for hosting a delicious Thanksgiving dinner without burning a hole in my pocket. Here is how we can all celebrate on a budget, which is something to give thanks for!
Make a list and compare with your pantry inventory.
First, compile a list of the recipes and the ingredients required. Then check how many of those ingredients are already in your pantry or freezer. Using what you already have at home can help a lot. This Easy Pea Risotto from Good Housekeeping (@goodhousekeeping) is easy to make (which matters when cooking in bulk) and will give you something to do with those frozen peas taking up space in the freezer. If you don’t have risotto, use the rice that’s in the pantry instead.
There’s an app for that.
You can always go old school and clip coupons from a flyer or newspaper, but what if you don’t have time to do this frugal tactic? The good news is that there’s an app for that! I mean, these days, what’s there not an app for? Here is a list of six grocery smartphone apps from Pop Sugar (@popsugar) that can help you save time and money.
Ask guests to bring a side dish.
There is no rule in the Thanksgiving etiquette book that states one person must cook everything. In fact, each person who attended the first Thanksgiving had their own part to play and everyone shared the responsibilities (in addition to their harvest). Why not take a page out of the history books and make your Thanksgiving an authentic one by sharing some of the load? Ask others to bring the vegetables, family favorites and desserts. As the hostess, you can keep the role of honor by making the turkey. This 3-step process from Delightful E Made (@delightfulemade) will make this one task even easier. Ask others to bring the vegetables, family favorites and desserts.
Go authentic and cook from scratch.
Pre-cooked meals and mixes may be easier to prepare, but they can also be more expensive especially when you are feeding a dozen or more. A few recipes from Bustle (@bustle) are cheaper when made from scratch and won’t take you forever to prepare. They are also small apartment-friendly!
Prepare a slow cooker station.
This tip is both a time and money saver. How can we argue with that? Crockpots and slow cookers are pretty popular cooking appliances, so if you don’t have one, chances are good that you can borrow instead. Check out these 20 crock-pot recipes from Lydi Out Loud (@@LydiOutLoud) that you can begin at night and have ready come morning (including breakfast).
Decorate with a little assistance from nature.
From fallen leaves to pine cones, Mother Nature has your back (and table) covered. This is also a good time to ask the kids for help. They will enjoy going outside to collect autumn treasures: twisted twigs, fallen acorns, colorful leaves and anything else their little hands can reach. Then, have a craft assembly line and spend a fun weekend gluing, glittering and painting. These ideas from Better Homes & Gardens (@bhg) are fun and cute!
Make a cornucopia centerpiece that’s completely edible.
Who doesn’t love a beautiful cornucopia filled with fruits and vegetables? Have fun visiting a local farmer’s market that has in-season produce for the contents of your cornucopia. Then, use ready-to-bake pizza crust to make the horn of plenty. Let this easy idea from Lily Shop (@lilyshop) share center stage with the turkey this year.
Forego alcohol (or ask someone else to bring a bottle or two).
Families with little kids may never even notice the absence of adult drinks, especially with these 5 alcohol-free cocktails from The Kitchn (@thekitchn). They are festive and will cost much less than their adult-friendly counterparts. If you think going alcohol-free would dampen the holiday spirit, however, ask your guests to each bring a bottle of something good.
Set the harvest mood with food-inspired candles.
No one can deny the elegance of a candlelit dinner, but these autumn season inspirations will add a whole other element. Designer Trapped (@DesignerTrapped) shows us how to make apple candles, but you can use small pumpkins, acorns or anything else you can think of like Colossal does (@colossal).
Have fun with leftovers.
In my opinion, the second-best part of Thanksgiving (after being with my family) is the leftovers. Somehow, food simply tastes better the next day! It’s also nice not needing to shop or cook for a few days after the chaos of the holiday is over. This turkey casserole from Cutefetti (@cutefetti) will help you keep the warm and fuzzy feeling that Thanksgiving brings a few days longer.
How do you feel about this list? Which ideas will you try this year? From cooking substitutes to easy decorations, the ways to save are endless. I am always excited to hear feedback, as well as receive new ideas to try myself. Please feel free to leave a tip or two of your own! Also, don’t hesitate to share this list with your friends!