First Person: Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for $30

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My husband and I plan to host our first Thanksgiving dinner this year, but we are working with a tight budget. According to a report published by MarketWatch on Yahoo! Finance, the cost of Thanksgiving dinner has gone up by 1% this year. They estimate a basic dinner for 10 people will cost around $49.48, but I'm hoping to spend less than that on our dinner. This is how I plan to pull off our Thanksgiving dinner for $30.

The turkey

Like a lot of other families, turkey will be the star of our meal, so it was important to me to get enough meat to feed everyone. I know that in the weeks leading up to the big day the price of turkeys will likely rise, so I decided to buy ours early. I watched the in-store prices and sale ads closely, and was able to get a great deal. My local market had turkeys marked down from $2.69 a pound to just $1.99 a pound, and I had a coupon for $2.00 off that was doubled by the store. I ended up with a 15 pound turkey that cost me $25.85, and I saved a total of $14.50.

The sides

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without side dishes. We usually have a selection of vegetables along with various other dishes. I know that fresh veggies are better than canned, but canned are usually cheaper in my area, and they are easier to prepare. I recently discovered that I can save as much as $0.58 per can of veggies by shopping at a food salvage store. So, this year I've purchased 12 cans of various vegetables including corn, green beans, and sweet potatoes at $0.42 a can. I spent a total of $5 and saved an additional $6.96.


Our dinner party will consist of us and two other families, both of which have asked if there was anything they could do to ease our burden. I've assured them that we had everything under control, but invited them each to bring their favorite dessert. This will not only ensure they are represented in the meal, but will also save my family $20 because we no longer have to supply dessert foods.

Holidays can be very expensive, but if you put in the time and effort to plan ahead you can have a great celebration and stay within your budget. All told, I'm spending around $30.85 on our Thanksgiving dinner. That means I'll spend $18.63 less than the estimate given by MarketWatch.

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