Thanksgiving Dinner Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune — Top Money-Saving Tips

The cost of turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples are higher in 2022, but it's still possible to save money on Thanksgiving dinner. Follow these tips.

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Nov. 15 2022, Published 11:47 a.m. ET

Thanksgiving dinner

Amid continually soaring inflation rates, serving your family a robust Thanksgiving dinner in 2022 could cost more than last year. U.S. households have been feeling the pinch of higher grocery costs, fuel costs, and other inflated expenses for a long time now. Are there ways to lower the cost of Thanksgiving dinner?

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Thanksgiving meals can cost quite a bit, in part due to the fact that Americans tend to overindulge and make extra food. Of course, turkey is expensive as well, partly due to an avian flu outbreak earlier in the year impacting supply. Keep reading for tips on how to save money on Thanksgiving dinner.

Many households want to save money on Thanksgiving dinner.

Source: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

It seems most American families cook Thanksgiving dinner and eat at home, rather than dining out. Last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation Survey estimated how much it would cost to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 10: $53.31, or $5.33 per person. That was a 14 percent increase over the 2020 costs, and inflation has continued to rise in 2022.

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That survey included enough turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk for 10 people.

Try these tips if you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner and want to save money.

Pumpkin pie
Source: Getty Images/Bogdan Kurylo

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to break the bank for those hosting, in spite of the higher costs of groceries. Some ways you might save money on your Thanksgiving feast include asking guests to provide side dishes, buying store brands, following sales and using coupon apps, and paying with a good grocery rewards credit card.

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Common tips for saving money apply to a Thanksgiving on a budget. Instead of one host family footing the bill for the entire Thanksgiving meal, you might consider asking guests to contribute a portion of the meal. Depending on how many people are coming to your home, they might each bring a side dish, beverages, or dessert, which cuts down the costs for the host.

You can also keep your Thanksgiving meal costs down by using coupons, looking for which stores have the best prices on Thanksgiving staples, and buying the store brand whenever possible.

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Thanksgiving dinner
Source: Getty Images
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Another suggestion that may make traditionalists balk is giving up turkey on Thanksgiving in favor of a less-expensive protein. Of course, that’s non-negotiable to many Americans for this holiday, as CNBC reports, but if no one in the family feels strongly about turkey, you don’t have to serve it.

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Wells Fargo’s food and agribusiness analyst Brad Rubin even noted that this may be the first year that “Americans may actually find value in eating out” on the holiday.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, eating out could save money in some cases. The cost of dining out has risen only 8.6 percent on average in the past year, compared to the cost of eating at home, which is up 12.4 percent.

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Credit card rewards can help ease the pain of Thanksgiving expenses.

If you’re buying groceries for Thanksgiving on a budget anyway, you can put the bill on a rewards credit card, preferably one with excellent grocery rewards. Plus, if you’re traveling for the holiday weekend, use your gas rewards card to put some of that money back in your pocket.

Use the Butterball calculator to ensure you buy the right size turkey.

Another way to reduce costs and reduce food waste is to use the Butterball calculator. This enables you to input the number of adults and children in your group to decide on the right size turkey to feed everyone. It can be difficult to estimate how much of each food to make, so let this tool do the work for you.


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