Creating a Thanksgiving to Remember on a Budget

When my Emma was little I was a single Mom for several years and in case you aren’t already aware? Being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs out there. Sometimes money was tight and I don’t mean in the “I’m low on funds” kind of way. I mean the super tight, couldn’t pay the bills, there just wasn’t a way to move left or right without letting something slide kind of tight. Sometimes I wondered how I was going to pull it off, but I always managed to make it work. Like it or not, sometimes we all have those times because sometimes no matter what you do, money just gets tight and when you’re in that situation, the holidays can be extremely stressful and depressing. It doesn’t help that Thanksgiving happens and then right after we have Christmas dinner which can also be very costly. The two combined can really do some heavy damage to your budget. If that is your family this year, no worries! A tight budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a wonderful, family filled, memorable Thanksgiving! There are a few tips and tricks that you can do to help you create a Thanksgiving to Remember on a Tight Budget.

Thanksgiving costs taking a bite out of your budget? It doesn't have to be that way! These tips, tricks and pieces of advice will help you have a Thanksgiving to remember without draining your wallet!

I would hope that we all know that these tips aren’t all of the available ones to help you. Consider them a jumping off point, but if you put them into play with your grocery budget this month they will really help. Even better is when you can use these tips to help you with your Christmas dinner. Both are huge dinners for most families and like I said above, both can be super expensive and easily get out of hand if you let it.

Creating a Thanksgiving to Remember on a Budget


Use the grocery store sales to your advantage – A lot of the time, grocery stores will offer combo deals where you buy a few meal fixins and get a turkey free or you buy the turkey and get the fixins free. For instance, this week, my Brookshires has free turkey when you buy a ham. In our case, I picked up a ham and put it in the freezer for Christmas. I’ll use my free Turkey for Thanksgiving. So by taking advantage of the sale, I was able to get the main course for both meals for right around $20.00. Had I bought my turkey separate, I’d have paid $15.00 or more for just the turkey most likely. As Thanksgiving approaches, scour your sales ads for these sales. Go through each one and go with the one that will save you the most money.

Go simple for sides – A lot of the time, we want our dinner to be pretty and flashy and everything in between including multiple courses plus dessert. If you’re hosting family, the need to impress can drive that want even more. In the end though, Thanksgiving is supposed to be about one thing. Giving thanks for what we do have. If money is tight, go simple on the sides. Green beans can be dressed up with bacon and onions, corn can be made into a southern corn pudding with just a few ingredients and mashed potatoes can be dressed up with sour cream and garlic. Use what you have and dress it up with seasonings and a few add ins to make it seem like a super flashy dish that you spent hours on.

Make it a potluck – Hosting family? Make Thanksgiving dinner a potluck! Ask a few people to each bring a side, dessert or beverage. You don’t need to explain why if you aren’t comfortable telling them that money is tight. Just simply say that you’re really busy and want to make sure everything gets done on time.

Let the community help – Most communities have at least one church or a food pantry that pass out Thanksgiving boxes. If your income is low enough, you may qualify to receive on of them. They usually don’t come with meat but they should have most of the sides that most people typically have for Thanksgiving.

Get outside – The great thing about fall is that leaves, pine cones and things like that make fantastic centerpieces and decorations. For a simple idea, take a clear glass vase, pour some popcorn into it, sit a candle into the popcorn and use some twine to tie a leaf on the front of the vase. You get a beautiful centerpiece for pennies…especially if you already have most of the supplies you need.

If all else fails – If, at the end of the day, you really can’t afford to buy everything you need for dinner and still stay within your budget? Do what I did that year when Emma was so little and money was so tight. Fix a Thanksgiving lasagna and give thanks that you’re surrounded by those you love. 🙂



Do you have any other tips for Creating a Thanksgiving to remember on a budget? I’d love to hear them!

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family . By the age of 30, she had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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