Thanksgiving is a time to connect with people you love over a delicious meal.
But today’s Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mirror the one you remember growing up. If you’re not a huge fan of sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping or dishing out tons of cash on a 30-pound turkey, consider reinventing Thanksgiving with these money-saving tips.
1. Start shopping early
Getting to the Thanksgiving grocery run too late can be a recipe for disaster. Not only are you likely to find your favorite stuffing mix has sold out, but you might also end up paying more for groceries than your budget allows.
By starting early, you can keep an eye out for sales and deals to save on things like pie filling, ham or turkey, and other necessities. You can also stretch your budget by buying what’s on sale and planning your menu around those ingredients. You may even discover a new favorite Thanksgiving dish you can make every year!
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2. Host a “Friendsgiving” potluck
Maybe you don’t see eye-to-eye with your family, or the thought of spending the day in the kitchen makes you want to crawl back under the covers and skip Thanksgiving altogether. Rather than spending time and money creating the perfect meal for people you only see once a year, host a “Friendsgiving” potluck instead.
In addition to spending the holiday with your besties, you’ll also benefit from having everyone bring a dish to share, lightening the burden on you while seriously reducing the amount of money you’ll spend on food.
3. Stick to chicken
Turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition, but many people don’t enjoy the taste. Plus, turkeys can be quite large and leave behind a lot of leftovers that can be hard to use up. Rather than splurging on the big bird, consider buying a chicken or two to roast instead. You can typically find better deals on whole chickens — especially around Thanksgiving when turkeys are in demand.
If you insist on turkey, keep an eye out for sales in the months leading up to Thanksgiving. If you or a friend has a large freezer, you can buy it early and save the turkey until the big day.
4. Give back to the community
For those with warm homes and families to share the holiday with, it’s easy to forget about our less-fortunate neighbors. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities on Thanksgiving that you can do solo or with your friends or family.
Get in touch with your local food pantry or soup kitchen to see if they need volunteers to serve Thanksgiving meals. If you prefer pets to people, volunteer at your local animal shelter, where you can walk dogs or pet cats who are waiting for their forever homes.
If you don’t want to leave the house, spend the day knitting or crocheting blankets, scarves and hats to donate to your local homeless shelter to keep your neighbors warm during the colder months. The opportunities are endless, and you’re sure to find a volunteer opportunity to match your interests and skill set.
5. Get outside
On Thanksgiving, we tend to stuff ourselves with heavy foods like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, followed up by a healthy serving (or five) of pie. Exercise might be the last thing on your mind, but getting outside before or after dinner can help give you much-needed energy.
You might consider signing up for a local Turkey Trot race with your friends or family. If you don’t want to pay the race entry fee, run or walk a 5K from home and make your own medal when you’ve finished. A Thanksgiving exercise tradition can help the whole family stay active while spending quality time together outdoors.
A limited budget doesn’t mean you have to cancel Thanksgiving. By hosting a potluck, shopping early or switching up your traditions, you can have an enjoyable holiday with loved ones while keeping your budget intact.
This is not financial advice, nor should it constitute or be construed as instruction for any individual reader, or group of readers, to act or make a decision in any financial capacity. Seeking independent, professional consultation from a qualified and licensed expert is always the optimum avenue in making financial decisions. Information as of November 2, 2022.