3 Ways to Eat Well on a Budget This Thanksgiving

Does Thanksgiving usually kill your wallet? Don't let it! Here are some great tips to still eat well on a budget this Thanksgiving.It’s that time of year again! Time to begin the season of celebrating with family and friends over the holidays. But along with the celebration, can come some big financial decisions. This time of the year can really stretch your wallet, but it doesn’t have to.

Not only can you still enjoy your time to celebrate, but you can do it without killing your wallet. Starting with Thanksgiving, let’s talk about the 3 best ways to eat well on a budget. Yes, it can be done!

1. Stock Up Ahead of Time

I always do my best to stock up ahead of time on staples. But this goes for items that I know we are going to need for the holidays also.

Keeping an eye out for sales on items you know you will be using, that won’t go bad before you need them, is a GREAT way to keep Thanksgiving affordable.

A great example is: I know I will make a ridiculous amount of toffee during the next two months. For my recipe, I need only five ingredients:

  1. Raw Cane Sugar
  2. Butter
  3. Vanilla
  4. Dark Chocolate Chips
  5. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

I start looking for organic vanilla, dark chocolate chips and raw cane sugar at least a couple of months before Thanksgiving hits. Because I know these items won’t go bad by the time I need them and most of the time. I can get usually get them for a steal when they are on sale during the “off” season, which is a huge bonus.

So ask yourself what it is that you KNOW you will be making this Thanksgiving. Once you know that, you know what to keep an eye out for. That way when the time comes to start whipping up a culinary frenzy, you won’t be stuck paying the higher prices of the holiday season because you saved money by planning ahead of time.

2. Pot Luck

I started participating in pot lucks with friends years ago and realized how cost effective they were. Not only are they more cost effective for the host, but they require so much LESS cooking and cleaning. On top of that, during the holidays especially, it really spices up the celebration to see what other people decide to contribute. You just never know what you are going to get and you may even find some new foods to try.


The best way to plan them is to have one person be in charge of organizing everything. This is so you don’t end up with 4 turkeys and 3 green bean casseroles, but nothing else.

The person in charge sends out a list to everybody coming to Thanksgiving and each person puts down what they plan to bring. This way everybody can see what will potentially already be there, so they don’t choose the same item.

Or, if you have a set menu in mind, then the organizer sends out a menu with the items already filled in. Each person fills out their name next to what they want to bring. This requires more planning on the organizers end, but less thought on the participants end, which can sometimes make it much easier to implement.

You CAN eat well on a budget this Thanksgiving! Click To Tweet

This process works very well in our family. Not only that, but it helps keep Thanksgiving under the umbrella of a frugal fall activity. Which I will NEVER balk at!

We sort of implement a hybrid of the above two methods. I am the organizer who sends out the list of items that we had last year. But I leave a couple of blank spots for people to fill in other items they may want to bring instead. Each family member then fills out their name next to the items they will be bringing. I usually send out the list one more time, about a week before Thanksgiving. This is just to make sure everybody remembers what they are supposed to be bringing. It works out really well and is so MUCH cheaper for all of us!

3. Grocery Apps

I have been using grocery store apps for a while now and love them! Not only do I use the apps for the stores that I shop at regularly, but there are a couple of apps that are not so store specific that I combine with the other apps. Combing these helps us to save even more money, not just during Thanksgiving, but every day!

Ibotta App

The Ibotta app is one that I been using for a few years now. Sometimes it is one of my best friends, but other times it has nothing that I am using.

Not everything on the app is brand specific either, which I love!  Just remember to read the fine print for each item. Especially because some of the items are listed as purchasing more than one of that item at a time. I have caught myself not reading the quantities until it was too late, and kicked myself for the mistake.

This app gives cash back, into your Ibotta account, for things that you already purchase. Once you hit $20, then you can get the cash deposited into your PayPal account or use it for gift cards. We have been primarily been getting the funds in the form of an Amazon gift card, so that we can use it to purchase household goods we need. But there are a ton of ways to get the cash out, so whichever way works best for you and your family is the way to go.

Receipt Hog

This app is one of my all time favorite apps to use. In fact, I use it every time I shop anywhere and have a receipt, it is that magical!

The major perk with Receipt Hog is that it doesn’t care which store you shop at. The app just wants you to take a picture of your receipts and rate your visit. There are different rewards for different types of stores, such as:

  • grocery stores
  • gas stations
  • big box stores
  • specialty stores

As long as you take a picture of any receipt within a 2 week period of time, it will be credited to your account. Once you hit 1000 coins, they can be redeemed for a $5 Amazon gift card or for it to be deposited into your PayPal account. If you hit 2900 coins, it turns into $15, 4300 coins turns into $25, and 6500 coins turns into $40.

I have only been able to cash it in once so far, but that is because I wanted the $40 payout. When we did cash out, we used it for an Amazon gift card. Then used that gift card and combined it with our Ibotta gift card payout to get our new vacuum cleaner. For FREE!

Budget Friendly Thanksgiving

We love seeing our family and spending the holidays with them, but it takes some of the fun out of it if we are thinking about how much it is going to cost us the whole time. So, these three methods are what we use every year to keep Thanksgiving from killing our budget. That way we can really enjoy our time together and eat well at the same time!

Have you found ways to eat well on a budget at Thanksgiving? What are some of your tips and tricks?