7 Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving means giving thanks for all the good in our lives. It also means stuffed turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. It’s a time-honored tradition of spending time enjoying a delectable holiday meal while in the company of those we love. It can also mean spending an awful lot of money.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average host cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 guests will spend approximately $50 on the dinner alone. Of course, if you’re expecting more than 10 guests or you tend to overspend when hosting, your costs can easily top that amount. Between the turkey, ingredients for that luscious holiday meal and décor to set the ambiance, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap.

Looking for ways to cut back without compromising on the quality and festivity of your meal? Look no further! You know that here at Insight we love to keep your wallet plump. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways for you to save on your Thanksgiving costs this year.

1. Verify your guests’ attendance

Before you start writing up a spectacular menu or a detailed shopping list, check to make sure you have an accurate head count of the guests and family members who will be joining you for Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t want to end up with a fridge full of leftovers. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.

2. Find out what your guests like

While you’re doing your invites, ask for your guests’ individual tastes. You don’t want to forget that Great Aunt Martha is on a strict gluten-free food plan or that your cousin’s spouse is a vegetarian. Aside from specialized diets, ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won’t touch. If something on your menu isn’t very popular with your guests, skip it – even if you think it’s an essential Thanksgiving food. This way, you won’t exhaust yourself over a pumpkin soup that nobody will touch or end your holiday meal with trays full of leftovers and lots of hungry guests.

3. Make it a potluck

Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic “yes!” to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don’t just say anything’s fine, though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google Sheet with your planned menu and let your guests add what they’d like to contribute to the meal. This way, they’ll know exactly what you need, you’ll know what they’re bringing and best of all, you won’t be doing all the cooking yourself.

 4. Serve on smaller plates

Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate’s size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. Let your guests load up all the way without leaving half-full plates. They can always refill if they still want to eat more later.

5. DIY décor

You can set a beautiful holiday tablescape without blowing your budget; all it takes is a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, silk flower arrangements, and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things from around the house or yard as your décor. For instance, you can create a whimsical candleholder by gluing cinnamon sticks around a candle or design an autumn-themed centerpiece with leaves and pine cones which can be found at your local craft store. You can take a look at our blog on frugal fall decorating for more inspiration.

6. Shop the sales

Grocery stores and shopping centers tend to run specials on turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu several weeks in advance so you can take advantage of these sales. Keep it flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that’s cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Supermarkets tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.

7. Cook from scratch

Most everything is less expensive – and tastes better – when it’s homemade. Think gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and apple pie. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don’t find yourself relying on too many convenience foods and paying the price both in cash and taste. Your wallet and your guests will thank you!

When you gather around the table with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for all the good in your life without feeling guilty over how much you spent on the meal. All it takes is a little planning!

What are some of your best Thanksgiving dinner hacks? Share them with us in the comments!

5 Ways to Host a Super Bowl Party on a Budget

Super Bowl Blog PostAfter the holidays, you might be a little hesitant to host a Super Bowl party this year. Fear not! Here are some easy ways to save while still hosting a great party.

Co-Host With a Friend
Instead of having multiple parties, offer to co-host the party with a friend. This is a win for everyone. You not only share in the financial responsibility, but also in setting up and cleaning up. This will make it less stressful on you, your friends and your wallet!

Make It BYOB
Have your guests bring their own beverages – especially when it comes to alcohol. Trying to stock a bar with every beverage your guests like could really blow the budget. Most people prefer to bring their favorite drinks anyway!

Think Potluck
Tell everyone to bring their favorite snack or dish to share. Set up a buffet table where guests can add the dishes they bring and everyone can snack as they please. You can supplement the buffet table with chips and dip and a few other snacks for your guests. This way you aren’t responsible for providing all the food and everyone knows there will be something they like!

Buy in Bulk
If you do need to buy food for the party, buy it in bulk. Think of simple, easy recipes that will feed a lot of people – like chili. Make sure you like whatever food you are buying in bulk though, just in case there are more leftovers than you anticipated. You don’t want to be stuck with food you won’t enjoy after the big game!

Go to the Dollar Store
You probably want to decorate for the party – but skip the expensive party stores. Head to your local dollar store instead! They will have lots of items you can use to decorate, as well as paper plates and plastic silverware. Instead of buying tablecloths, pick up your favorite team’s colors in wrapping paper to cover the tables with. Festive and budget friendly!

We hope these tips help you save money while still throwing a great party! Do you have any other suggestions for hosting a Super Bowl party on a budget? If so, comment and share them with us!