11 Ways to Save Money This Thanksgiving

Make it the best (and thriftiest) Thanksgiving ever with these money-saving tips from Nicole McLaughlin.

Want to host a Thanksgiving equipped with mouthwatering dishes without going broke? Keep your belly and wallet full this year with smart grocery tips from hostess extraordinaire, Nicole McLaughlin. These 11 guidelines will help you make this the most delicious and budget-friendly Thanksgiving ever.

1. Get Your Turkey While You Can

"The turkey you buy ahead of time and the one you'd buy the week of Thanksgiving is probably harvested at the same time," shares McLaughlin. "As long as you've got good freezer space, go ahead and purchase it now."

Once you have the turkey, the rest is simple — simply brine with pantry staples and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herb blend for a deliciously juicy bite.

2. Try a Turkey Alternative

Branch out from the standard bird this year for a flavorful, budget-friendly holiday twist. Try a grilled turkey tenderloin to free up oven space or opt for cornish game hens if you're hosting a smaller crowd.

While turkey is the traditional choice, it just doesn't appeal to everyone. These other options are easy to find, often less expensive, and take less time to cook.

cornish game hens

Get the recipe: Cornish Game Hens with Garlic and Rosemary

3. Be A Cheater

Nicole advises home cooks to "take the pressure off yourself — it's about providing great taste, but you don't have to make a gourmet meal." Try making gravy with turkey wings rather than the whole bird, or adding a bit of orange zest to canned cranberry sauce for a "homemade" touch.

Using a few shortcuts gives you more quality time to kick back with family and friends. After all of the prep work for Thanksgiving, you deserve it.

4. Start New Traditions

"Embrace change," advises McLaughlin. "No one is going to be upset with trying something new as long as you have a few familiar favorites on the table." With supply chains issues and shortages on the rise, Thanksgiving might look a bit different this year.

Draw inspiration from Nicole's own holiday table. Italian Sausage and Rice makes a deliciously hearty dish that will hold its own among other Thanksgiving favorites.

5. Buy Produce on Sale and Prep for Freezer

Stock up on fresh vegetables when prices are slashed and save them for the main event. Nicole freezes fresh trimmed green beans for superior flavor at half the cost. Maintain crisp, just-picked quality while avoiding skyrocketing grocery prices this year.

You can also boil sweet potatoes until fork-tender, slice, and freeze for later. They're simple to prepare with a bit of brown sugar and pecans and make a hearty treat any time of year.

Classic Candied Sweet Potatoes in a white dish
Allrecipes Community

Get the recipe: Classic Candied Sweet Potatoes

6. Use Dried Herbs

Buying individual fresh herbs out of season can really add up, so stick with pantry staples like dried rosemary and oregano to add depth to your dishes. Poultry seasoning combines marjoram, sage, and thyme for a perfectly earthy effect.

McLaughlin makes one exception to this rule — fresh parsley. "Parsley transforms dishes and makes each bite fresher," she says. "Parsley also brightens up all of the brown Thanksgiving food with a pop of green."

7. Shop Multiple Stores (And Don't Be Afraid To Go Discount!)

Just because a store like Aldi or Walmart is known for being discounted as compared to other retailers, doesn't mean the quality suffers. Look for mailers and in-store deals to nab incredible bargains on holiday ingredients.

Put forth the extra effort to make more than one trip if it means saving money. And don't be afraid of store-brand products. Going generic often saves tons of money and oftentimes is the exact same stuff.

8. Fresh Doesn't Always Mean Expensive

Think boxed stuffing is the best buy? Think again. A loaf of French bread is a fraction of the price, and all you'll need are spices you already have in your pantry to make a mouthwatering stuffing from scratch.

9. Make Mock Desserts

Create wow-worthy desserts for a crowd without breaking the bank. In-demand ingredients like pecans can come with a steep price, so make mock desserts that taste like familiar favorites while saving you a pretty penny at checkout.

Get the recipe: Mock Pecan Pie

A mock apple pie made with butter crackers creates a warm holiday feeling without the traditional fruit filling, and a "pecan" pie made with coconut and oat satisfies cravings for a sweet crunch.

10. Break Out Fine China

Make things beautifully personal by using your own dishes for Thanksgiving. You'll cut the cost of pricey disposable plates and make memories with special meaning.

11. Go Big-Batch For Cocktails

"Big-batch cocktails are easy and inexpensive," says Nicole. "You can throw together mulled wine or sangria — all you have to do to elevate your drink is to add fruit or spices."

There are several great options for boxed wine on the market. You'll save up to fifty percent on cocktails by buying 4 bottles of wine all in one convenient package.

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