Want to save money for Thanksgiving? Here are some ideas for a cheaper holiday dinner


As decisions are being made on what is going on the Thanksgiving table from centerpieces to side dishes, families are looking to save money and maintain the Norman Rockwell feast.

Prices for the meal have had cross winds as the cost of the centerpiece turkey has dropped to an average of $1.37 per pound but sides and desserts have had mixed price movements.

The average Thanksgiving meal for 10 cost just under $65 in 2022, . While inflation has been cooling recently, families are still seeking relief from growth in costs over the past three years.

Graphic by Sara Chernikoff

Here are some ideas to save money this Thanksgiving.

Right size your feast

While the gut-busting meal is the center of the holiday, reducing the excess buying is an opportunity to shave money from the grocery bill.

While food waste is commonly thought of as an ecological problem, there are financial costs as well.

Approximately 200 million pounds of turkey is thrown away each year, according to the If the same amount is thrown away this year that will translate to over $274 million dollars heading to a landfill.

By reducing the size of the centerpiece bird by two pounds, the average meal cost drops $2.74 cents.

The same principle applies to side dishes and desserts. In the Los Angeles area, a package of Marie Callender's 10-ounce apple pies is $2 less than the sale price of the same company's 38-ounce Dutch apple pie .

This is not to say that there shouldn't be leftovers from a Thanksgiving dinner but understanding how much a family will actually eat can save money from going into the trash.

Close up of Thanksgiving turkey during family dinner at dining table.

This year, choose fresh over canned

This year has seen the costs of canned produce rise, making fresh produce options an attractive and healthy alternative.

The found that fresh green beans have remained, "inflation resilient," while the cost of the canned option has risen 9%.

The same report found that while the cost of canned cranberries are up 60%, fresh cranberries will cost 20% less.

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Time your purchase

If you have the flexibility to wait until the final days before the holiday, there may be last minute deals to be had.

“Historically we see a big drop in the two weeks before Thanksgiving,” Michael Swanson, chief agriculture economist with Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute,

As soon-to-be cooks make their selections and demand shrinks, retailers should offer better prices to chase the remaining holiday spending.

When discussing sweet potatoes Swanson said, "the price is expected to come down before Thanksgiving as grocers become much more competitive with each other for consumers’ dollars."

Potlucks level the cost

While the picture of a brood gathering at the ancestral home being served by a host family is the ideal of Thanksgiving, one of the best ways to defray costs is to open up the menu to all.

Potluck style gatherings allow for a wide range of dishes while allowing the host to focus on the star of the show and the presentation.

Spreading out the costs across multiple guests also keeps the host's budget in check.

Other stories to read over the holiday week