How to save money this Thanksgiving


✔ Planning ahead for a family gathering can help you cut costs.

✔ There are many meal ideas that can save money– from potluck to meat-free menus.

✔ Avoid the high cost of food waste by reimagining leftovers.

 Focus on the true meaning of the day – giving thanks, celebrating with loved ones and starting new traditions.

Inflation and the high cost of groceries are going to put some added financial strain on Thanksgiving celebrations across the county this year. Whether this is your first time hosting or an annual tradition, planning can help you keep costs down without cutting back when you get together with loved ones. Here are a few ideas to help you plan your gathering, show your gratitude and usher in the autumn leaves while managing the costs.

Make it a potluck

Most people are happy to bring a dish or pick up ready-made the day before. Start early by asking each of your guests if they can help out. Once you’ve gotten a few volunteer chefs, you can assign dishes to friends or family members so that you stay in control of the menu, and you won’t have to make everything. Even those who may not want to cook or are truly lost in the kitchen can be asked to bring beverages, dinner rolls or snacks. It’s a great way to get everyone involved and share the costs.

Put your spin on dinner

Canada is world-famous for its cultural diversity. Most people love discovering new foods and trying new things. If the high cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner is making you think, “no thanks”, make a favourite family meal instead. Take the opportunity to pass on recipes to your children. What matters most is that you’re taking the time to appreciate each other.

Plan a brunch instead of dinner

Brunch is less time-consuming and can be a lower-cost way to entertain. Making brunch the big meal of the day means you have the whole afternoon to get outside and enjoy the day. Family members with children can also get home early.

Pitch in and order out

Last year, the CBC estimated “the cost of a classic roast turkey dinner with all the fixings — stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, pumpkin pie and beverages — was $203.95 for a family of four, with some leftovers”.[i] If you can find a meal kit that fits your budget, and lets you share the cost of a special day, this option could be right for you. Consider the advantages. Thanksgiving meal kits, available for order well in advance of the big day, offer:

Minimize waste: You can order a meal kit based on your exact number of guests.

Manage your budget: You know exactly what the day will cost and you won’t be tempted to buy last-minute items at the supermarket.

Save time: Most meal kits require some kind of work like heating and cutting but it’s nowhere near the effort you would make on your own, especially if you’re not handy in the kitchen.

Create a meat-free feast

Skipping the turkey and other meat options in favour of a plant-based menu can help to cut costs. Consider a vegetarian or vegan dinner using seasonal and regionally grown vegetables.  Locally grown vegetables are fresher and tastier, help support the community and because they travel shorter distances, they are better for the planet. Fall is Canada’s favourite time for home chefs who love to cook with in-season produce, so you are likely to find lots of options and recipes to help plan your no-meat meal. Healthy veggie dishes like salads, soups and stews can be prepped in advance and require little time to put together. A plant-based Thanksgiving dinner is good for the planet and good for your budget.

Plan for leftovers

Food waste costs Canadian households about $1,300[ii] a year, on average. If you’re planning a big dinner with lots of guests and plenty of food, think about how you can share it all when the day is done. Who doesn’t love a sandwich made from Thanksgiving leftovers the next day?

If you have leftover food, take some time to reinvent it—use up everything in the kitchen and put a fresh spin on holiday favourites. 

Creating a memorable day while giving thanks doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety and stress. Minimize the cost by planning and creating new ways to celebrate with friends and family. Try starting a new tradition while saving money. Got a few more minutes? See how you can lower your grocery bill both before and after the holidays. 

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice on any subject matter.

[i] CBC online. “Inflation is making Thanksgiving dinner more expensive than ever.” Posted: Oct 07, 2022, 8:22 AM EDT | Last Updated: October 7, 2022. Viewed September 2023. Source.

[ii] National Zero Waste Council. “Food waste in the home”. 2022. Viewed September 2023. Source.

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