Best Thanksgiving Foods That Don’t Kill Our Budget

Gathering around, with family, to celebrate Thanksgiving together is a great time of year. But, providing all of the food can get pretty pricey. Especially, if you happen to be the host and aren’t having a potluck style Thanksgiving. But, we have found a lot of great Thanksgiving foods that won’t kill our budget and are delicious too!


Cranberries are a very traditional American Thanksgiving dish to be had. Not only can they be a healthy addition to your Thanksgiving meal, but they can be pretty darn cost-effective also. If you purchase them in a can, already prepared, they will obviously cost you more than if you make them yourself.

Typically, a can of jellied or whole cranberries can cost anywhere from $.95 to $1.60, depending upon the brand, where you live, and where you shop. This is for a 14 oz can, which definitely has some added sugar. Which isn’t the best addition to your holiday meal.

But, if you purchase whole cranberries and make them yourself instead, you can get much more bang for your buck. A lot of times you can find a 12 oz bag for $1.98, or you can order a 5 lb bag for $12.49. This may be too many cranberries for you, but if you go in with other family members or friends to split the cost and divvy up the cranberries, that is just another great way to save more money.

Delicious Whole Cranberry Sauce

There is a great, and really easy, recipe for cranberry sauce that we have used time and time again. This cranberry sauce recipe calls for more sugar that we typically use, so we cut it in half when we make it. But, ultimately, this recipe calls for:

  • 12 oz bag whole cranberries = $1.98
  • 1 cup orange juice – $2.99 for a 52 oz bottle (6.5 cups) = $.46 per cup
  • 1 cup sugar (we use 1/2 cup, so that is what is priced) – $2.49 for a 4 lb bag (9.5 cups) = $.13 per half cup
  • 1 tsp orange zest = $.59 for one orange to zest
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon – $5.99 for 7.12 oz (42.72 tsp) = $.04 per 1/4 tsp

TOTAL: $3.20

This recipe has a yield of 8, versus a yield of approximately 4 for a can. Therefore, purchasing canned cranberries at $1.60 per can, you will need at least 2 cans to yield the same amount. So, you can spend $3.20 for the canned version or spend maybe 15 minutes making an even better version for the same cost. Unless, you get that larger bag of cranberries, in which case, you can save yourself even more money.


Potatoes are something that almost everybody loves and they proof that healthy food doesn’t really have to cost more money. And they can be cooked so many different ways, which makes them an extremely versatile choice. However, the easiest, and most budget-friendly way to make them is either mashed or roasted.

I have found that using either Yukon Gold or Red potatoes work the best in either applications, so seek those two varieties out. Finding a 5 lb bag of Yukon Gold potatoes for under $5 seems pretty easy to run across. For mashed potatoes you just need to add butter, milk and any spices of your choice. If you are roasting the potatoes, olive oil and spices are the only additions needed.

Here is a great recipe for basic mashed potatoes using the aforementioned ingredients. If you do everything according to the recipe, then you are looking at a cost of $2.22 to serve 4 people. But since you have a 5 lb bag of potatoes, you might as well make them all, so you can have leftovers!

The roasted potatoes will come in a bit cheaper, since you don’t need the butter or the milk. The base cost of these (depending upon the spices you choose, of course) can run $2.15. I like these a lot because you can easily change up the flavor profile for different palettes.
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Green Beans

Green beans are a great vegetable to add to your Thanksgiving food selection. They are nutritious (containing decent amounts of Fiber, Vitamins A, C & K, Beta-carotene, Folate and Potassium) and cost effective. Plus, they can easily take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with, which makes them extremely malleable.

I have been able to find a 12 oz package of fresh green beans for around $2.79, or a 14.5 oz can for around $.98. Please keep in mind that the latter is a lot of water weight though, and less green beans. The cans contain around 3 servings and the fresh serves around 4-5, depending upon what you choose to do with them and how you cook them.

One of our favorite ways to make green beans for the holidays is by sauteing them with some olive oil and spices. This is quick, easy and really flavorful.

Here is a great sauteed green beans recipe to try out that won’t cost you a bundle to try. Overall, this recipe will cost you around $3.07. While this still costs more money than just the plain canned green beans, there is so much more flavor and texture than what you will ever get with canned green beans. Therefore, I would highly suggest you give this a try!


I don’t know about you, but toffee is one of my favorite things to make and it goes such a long way. Toffee is a great addition to many events year round, but it is one of our most coveted Thanksgiving foods too. So it is always a crowd favorite!

You can find my full toffee recipe, with the more in depth breakdown, on my website. But, here is the shorter version:

  • Unsalted Butter (1 lb) – $2.99
  • Sugar (16 oz) –  $2.49 for a 4 lb bag (9.5 cups) = $.52
  • Water – FREE! (usually)
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (12 oz)– $2.12
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (1 tsp) – $1.99 for a 3.3 oz (16.43 tsp) jar = $.12

TOTAL: $5.75

That may sound like a lot, but I get a huge sheet pan full of the stuff and it can easily serve 10-12 people.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is another Thanksgiving regular favorite and is seen on tables everywhere this time of year. The great thing about pumpkin pie is that pumpkin is great for you, delicious and pretty easy on your wallet. That is the trifecta!

More often than not the most expensive part of a pumpkin pie is the crust. So, if you are handy in the kitchen, making your own from scratch may be the way to go to help offset the costs. If not, there are a plethora of pie crust choices starting at $1.99 for each one.

For one of the best, and easiest pumpkin pie recipes, the breakdown is the following:

  • Pure Pumpkin (15 oz can) = $.95
  • Light Brown Sugar (3/4 cup) – $2.29 per 2 lb bag (4 cups) = $.43
  • Eggs (3) – $.99 per dozen = $.25
  • Cinnamon (1 1/2 tsp) – $5.99 for 7.12 oz (42.72 tsp) = $.21
  • Salt (1/2 tsp) – $1.99 for a 3.3 oz (16.43 tsp) jar = $.06
  • Ginger (1/2 tsp) – $2.79 for a .7 oz jar (4.2 tsp) = $.33
  • Allspice (1/2 tsp) – $.78 for a .65 oz jar (3.9 tsp) = $.10
  • Nutmeg (1/4 tsp) – $2.99 for a .9 oz jar (5.4 tsp) = $.14



Since a regular sized pumpkin pie should serve 8 people, that is a pretty good deal!

Thanksgiving Foods Wrap Up

Overall, there are plenty of foods that you can serve (or bring) for Thanksgiving that won’t break the bank. But some of our all time favorites are:

  • Cranberries
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Toffee
  • Pumpkin Pie

None of these foods cost us a ton to make and everybody loves them!

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods to serve, or bring, on Thanksgiving that don’t kill your budget?