At a time of year designated for feeling thankful and appreciating all that you’ve been given, things can often get quite expensive. If the kitchen is considered the heart of the home, then it makes sense that the holidays are centered around meals shared amongst many – and Thanksgiving is the one that kicks off the season. After purchasing a turkey large enough to feed the family (and of course provide leftovers for sandwiches!) and ingredients to produce enough sides and desserts to appease everyone, the cost can quickly start adding up. So how do you host a great Thanksgiving on a budget?

Just because you’re planning to feed a large group and have a diverse selection of options doesn’t mean you can’t do it all on a budget! Check out our tips for hosting Thanksgiving on a budget below.

Embrace The Potluck

Whether you’re a Thanksgiving hosting veteran or stepping up to the plate for the first time you’ll undoubtedly want to knock the socks off of your guests with your culinary prowess and hosting skills. However, that doesn’t mean that your guests wouldn’t be happy to help. Invite your guests to bring along their favorite side dish or dessert, or reach out to guests who have a signature dish that you love and ask if they wouldn’t mind bringing it along.

Plan In Advance

In all things – from planning dinner menus to massive home renovations – the number one way to keep costs reasonable is to make a plan and stick to it. Arrive at the supermarket armed with your menu and a list of all the ingredients you need to purchase and then don’t deviate from the plan. This will be a practice in willpower and resistance – at this time of the year the grocery store is teaming with delicious desserts, savory sides, and lovely floral arrangements. Stay strong. Put on blinders, follow your list, and don’t look around until you’ve reached the checkout aisle. Your wallet will thank you later.

Make It Homemade

If you aren’t opposed to making more of an investment in time than money, homemade items are the way to go. When you purchase pre-made desserts or sides you’re paying a premium on not only the ingredients, but also the labor that was required to make it and the packaging.

Name Brand Isn’t Everything

For most ingredients the difference between purchasing a name brand item versus the grocery store generic won’t make a difference in the overall taste and appearance of your menu items. You may feel compelled to spring for the known-brand for such a special occasion, but there’s no way your guests will know unless you tell them, and it won’t make a difference to them anyway.

Shop In Season

We often find ourselves coming back to this advice – shop for locally grown, in season produce. There is no better way to ensure you’re getting high quality, fresh produce at a reasonable price than to shop at your local produce and farmers’ markets. Think about it – if you’re cooking with produce that isn’t in season in your area that means it has to be shipped in from elsewhere. Not only are there transportation costs associated with that, but the food isn’t fresh. It’s likely coming from thousands of miles away, which means it’s been sitting transportation facilities and warehouses for at least a couple of days.

You may be surprised at just how many vegetables are in-season in late November. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, spinach, kale, and apples are all still readily available among many other options.

Keep It Simple

Probably the easiest way to keep your budget in check (besides asking your guests to provide their favorite items) is to keep it simple. There’s no need to pull together seven sides and twelve desserts to try and appease everyone’s individual taste buds, since most people aren’t going to take a helping of every single dish available. Select a couple of side dishes and desserts that you’re confident making and call it a day.

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