How to have a tasty and thrifty Thanksgiving

The best part of Thanksgiving is devouring all the delicious food. Mouths water at the sight of pumpkin pie. Stomachs leap for joy at the very mention of turkey and stuffing. This Thanksgiving Day, feed your family foods that are sure to fill their stomachs, but won’t take a big bite out of your wallet.

You can always find savings when you buy in bulk. If you don’t need large quantities of food, consider purchasing items together with friends or neighbors and share the savings. Finally, the turkey is usually the centerpiece for most traditional Thanksgiving dinners. You can save a lot by buying a store-brand frozen turkey instead of a fresh turkey. Fresh turkeys usually have a shorter shelf life and are more expensive due to the means of packaging. If you buy a frozen turkey, just make sure you leave enough time to defrost.

As for the rest of the meal, consider serving some foods that can stretch your Thanksgiving Day dinner dollar.

  • Potatoes are a great source of vitamin C and potassium and they consistently rank number one as one of the most filling food choices. Potatoes come in many varieties and the culinary possibilities are endless. In addition, they are an affordable addition to any meal. According to a WebMD article, a five-pound bag of potatoes will run about $2.39, which generally includes 11 to13 potatoes.
  • Brown rice offers more nutritional value than white rice; it is rich in protein, fiber, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and potassium. Brown rice can be served in a variety of recipes including side dishes, salads, casseroles, soups, and stews. According to WebMD, a two-pound bag costs about $1.99 and contains 20 servings.
  • Whole wheat pasta is an excellent source of fiber and healthier than regular pasta. Foods rich in fiber tend to be more filling, contribute to digestive health, and promote a reduction in cholesterol. Whole wheat pasta is great for both hot and cold dishes. You can get a 13 to 16 ounce box or bag of dried pasta for around $2. 
  • Salads make great side dishes and delicious appetizers. The average cost of iceberg lettuce is $1.49 per pound and tomatoes average $1.19 per pound. If you choose, you can throw in shredded cheese, bacon bits, cucumbers, or any other inexpensive ingredient to give your salad more flavor. Another alternative is to add fruit to the mix. Fruits salads are healthy, visually pleasing, and relatively inexpensive.

And here’s another quick tip: Instead of spending a lot on new (and rarely needed!) kitchen items, check thrift stores or borrow from friends, family, or neighbors.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to serve food that is both thrifty and healthy. With the right grocery list and a little planning ahead, you can cook a Thanksgiving dinner that will leave both your guests and your wallet feeling full.

For more ideas on budget entertaining, download the free Thrifty Thanksgiving and Cheap Eats eBooks.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.