Budgeting Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving DinnerWhether you’re hosting the big meal at home or preparing just a few dishes to pitch in with others, Thanksgiving dinner can get a little pricey. There are hostess gifts, decorations, dinnerware and, for course, turkey with all the trimmings.

I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for several years, and because of my girls’ food allergies, I prefer to buy it all myself. It serves two purposes—I can control the ingredients and stake a claim on all leftovers. ;)

However, I stick close to a $100 holiday dinner budget (for food, plates and decor). With careful planning, it is possible to serve even a large crowd with just a little money. Don’t spend too much on decor—a few natural centerpieces will go a long way. Core a few apples and insert taper candles or use mums that you can plant outside to enjoy for years. If you have table cloths & napkins tucked away, you’ll set a beautiful table without spending a penny on paper products.

That way, you can use the bulk of your funds on the main event—it’s all about the food! Start by making your Thanksgiving menu right now. Our basics stay the same from year to year—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie—but I throw in a new side dish every couple years or pull out old favorites, depending on sale prices. Be as generic as possible at first to give yourself wiggle room. For example, if a veggie tray is too expensive next week, you’ll have the option of buying another appetizer.

Once you know what you’ll be serving, create a master ingredient list. This should include absolutely everything you will need to prepare each recipe, including quantities. Then comes the fun part—it’s time to go through the pantry. Every November, my pantry gets a thorough cleaning so that I can take real stock of what I have, check expiration dates on things that have probably been there since last Thanksgiving and donate the school’s annual food drive.

As I put the items back on the shelf, I compare them to my ingredients and cross off items I will not need to purchase. Whatever is left becomes the Thanksgiving grocery list. You have a couple weeks left to watch sales, clip coupons and buy everything you need within your budget. We’ll be helping with grocery shopping lists, deal alerts & a live shopping trip later this week on Fox59 Morning News.

Getting Thanksgiving dinner to the table on time? That one’s on you!



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