Cheap Thanksgiving Dinner: How to Feed Your Family on a $50 Budget

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By: Meredith Witthar | Segun Oduolowu Posted: 12:32 PM, Nov 8, 2018 Updated: 12:32 PM, Nov 8, 2018

Surveys suggest that the average American family will spend around $165 on Thanksgiving and about seven hours on cooking dinner. The List wants you to spend less green and more time with your family! Consumer expert and Co-Host of The Shopping Tips podcast Lisa Lee Freeman has four ways to make a cheap Thanksgiving dinner under $50.

1. Find a Free Bird

Our first tip for a cheap Thanksgiving dinner? Finding a bird for free! That’s right. Turns out, a lot of supermarkets this time of year will offer free turkeys if you spend a minimum amount. “Last year, for example, Acme offered a free turkey if you spent $100,” Freeman explains. Also last year, Albertson’s and Safeway offered free turkeys if you spent $150. So keep an eye on those flyers when geting your groceries for the week!

2. Dress Up Your Cheap Thanksgiving Dinner

Sometimes throwing a cheap Thanksgiving dinner means getting creative! Find some of the items and dishes you need on sale with a few tricks that will make it look like you spent hours in the kitchen! One idea? Get a plate of cookies for a bargain, put a little icing on there to make them look homemade and no one will ever know the difference. You could also throw some chives and sour cream in boxed potatoes, or cut out a store-bought pie into individual ones so everyone get their own. When we bought canned, boxed and frozen sides and desserts, we came up with a total of $23. 

3. Punch it Up on a Budget

You can’t throw a cheap Thanksgiving dinner without the booze – and there’s no need to spend tons of money! “Instead of spending money on a full bar, which can cost hundreds of dollars, make a punch with rum or vodka and fruit juices,” offers Freeman. “And if you want wine, buy some inexpensive box wines! There’s a lot of decent ones.” Toss the box before serving and pour the wine in a decanter. That brought our total to $40.

4. Shop Somewhere New 

Use an app like Flip! Enter the name of the item you’re looking for and the app will pull up sales on that item in stores all over your area. You might just find that the dollar store or even the local drugstore has a better price. 


You also can’t go wrong with too much dessert. So, we rounded out our cheap Thanksgiving dinner with a pecan pie for $6, bringing our final Thanksgiving day total to $46.


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