Your Thanksgiving Meal for Less

Doesn’t it seem like you spend a month’s worth of your food budget on Thanksgiving? That’s the way it used to be for me as well, until I got smarter about saving. When I’d look over our Thanksgiving Day menu with five different hors d’oeuvres, a spread that meant I needed to set up an extra table, desserts that would feed a small town and an empty wallet – the fun of getting together would turn to worry about how I would finance it all!

Things are much different now. I’ve come to realize that with good planning, that I can whittle down the expense of the meal from outrageous to tiny. How do I do it?

I begin planning at least 30 days in advance, by creating a basic menu. By watching the sales circulars from the grocery stores and even checking some of the online shopping outlets, I will rework my menu based upon the sales and coupons that I collect from the newspaper, magazines and of course online.

Here’s how I do it ~

*October 24 – Create a menu.

*Be Flexible – By keeping your menu flexible you’ll find the biggest savings. If chicken wings go on sale and you were planning on beef teriyaki, you could be missing out and your guests will never know the difference.

*Butterball Turkey – Check for coupons and holiday partner savings (Reynolds, Pillsbury, Heinz and more!). They offer a $1 off coupon for a Butterball turkey. Coordinate them with the in-store sales for even bigger savings. I find that the turkey is the EASIEST part to save on.

*Search For and Clip Coupons – Don’t limit yourself to what you find in your newspaper. Search online at places like, your local newspapers website, and deal bloggers for coupons.

*Buy in Advance – I make sure that my freezer is almost empty, so that I can stock up on foods on sale all month.  You don’t want to have to pass on a savings of $1.00 a pound because you have no room to store your food.

*Cook in Advance – Some dishes can be cooked in advanced and frozen, making your Thanksgiving Day a bit easier. I often bake cakes and freeze them, only to take them out to defrost and put the frosting on the night before.

 By staying organized and shopping smarter, your Thanksgiving can be a wonderful celebration without breaking the bank!



  1. Posted November 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Those are some awesome tips. I am sure it will help me stay on budget for our Thanksgiving meal. I did trim it down a lot a few years ago, and don’t cook nearly as much as I used to. I still wind up with tons of leftovers, though.

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink | Reply

      If you still end up with tons of leftovers, than I can’t imagine how much you were cooking BEFORE. Trimming down a bit will ALWAYS help with the budget and no one usually notices (unless you take away a FAVORITE holiday food).

  2. Posted November 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the suggestions! I definitely need to be more organized this year.

  3. Posted November 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great tips! I’m not cooking on Thanksgiving this year, but I probably will on Christmas and can apply these tips to that!

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink | Reply

      You get a “pass” this year Robyn, at least for a month. Luckily, you have the Thanksgiving AND the Christmas sales to choose from.

  4. Posted November 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great ideas! I am already starting to look for sales!!!

  5. Posted November 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I cook everything but the turkey in advance.

    Even mashed potatoes can be frozen ready to go if you use a recipe with cream cheese or sour cream in it.

    Zippy, what’s the best kind of Butterball to buy to brine myself? I love brining my own turkey.

    Normally I buy a fresh turkey from Trader Joe’s, but you’ve convinced me to go with Butterball this year!

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink | Reply

      I love the organization of doing everything in advance. Great idea. Butterball’s don’t need brining because they’re already basted. Why not call 1-800-BUTTERBALL and ask, they may have a turkey that’s BETTER than the others for brining.

  6. Posted November 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    great ideas, I love to stock up on sales during the Holidays as well. It’s almost the only time I find rock bottom prices on baking goods.

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      That’s great Lily. How do you store your baking goods? That’s always been an issue for me.

  7. Posted November 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    So many great ideas! Thanks for sharing them and just in time for my Thanksgiving shopping as well.


    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Coryanne. I hope that you enjoy your shopping rather than dread it this holiday season.

  8. Posted November 4, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink | Reply

    great tips, and thank you for taking the time to write this!

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Frelle. This is such a stressful time of year, it’s great to be able to save a little and organize as well.

  9. Posted November 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Emptying out the freezer is a great tip. I am also learning to offer more of one dish and less dishes. My issue is that we all have our favorites, but we’re vowing to keep it simple.

    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Love the idea of cutting down on the NUMBER of dishes. It means less work, but more leftovers…which my family prefers. I’m with you!

  10. Posted November 5, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink | Reply

    You have some good ideas and this post is just in time for everyone to use them!

    • Posted November 5, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Nicole. Keep watching for more posts leading up to Thanksgiving with great information and stories about how the Butterball bloggers handle the big day.

  11. Posted November 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent advise! I like to empty the freezer so I can stock up when turkeys go on sale too. That way we can have turkey throughout the year. This year I plan on canning some.

    • Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Awesome Deborah, and Butterball turkeys last a good long time in the freezer.

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