How to Make an Amazing Thanksgiving Meal for Only $50

Putting together a full Thanksgiving menu doesn't have to be expensive or stressful. Here's how to prepare a delicious dinner for a party of six—for just $50!

A table set with a Thanksgiving meal of sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and turkey.
Photo: Andrea Mathis

Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means that it's officially time to celebrate and cook up some delicious food! There's nothing more comforting than spending this time with close family and friends, and enjoying a delicious meal—but it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. Putting together a full Thanksgiving menu doesn't have to be expensive or stressful. I'm going to show you how to put together an amazing Thanksgiving meal, with all the fixin's, for a party of six—for just $50!

Before we start making our grocery list, I like to raid the pantry to see what I have on hand. Usually, we keep a supply of seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, sage, poultry seasoning, marjoram, paprika, oil and parsley on hand, so there's no need to add those to our grocery list. And, for some reason, I usually always have a loaf of stale bread, which can be used for the stuffing!

So, What's on the Menu?

I wanted to keep things traditional, so I decided to create this tasty menu.

01 of 07

Herb-Roasted Turkey

Herb-Roasted Turkey

This easy method produces all the good looks and moist flavor you dream of in an oven-roasted turkey.

Get the recipe: Herb-Roasted Turkey

02 of 07

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

maple roasted sweet potatoes

The delicious glaze that forms on these maple-roasted sweet potatoes transforms this ultra-simple dish into something sublime.

Get the recipe: Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

03 of 07

Sautéed Green Beans & Onions

Sautéed Green Beans & Onions

Sautéed onions, garlic powder and red pepper add plenty of flavor to canned green beans to make an easy and economical side.

Get the recipe: Sautéed Green Beans & Onions

04 of 07

Citrus-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce

Citrus Rosemary Cranberry Sauce recipe in a white bowl

This easy cranberry sauce recipe calls for simply jazzing up canned cranberry sauce with orange zest and juice and fresh herbs.

Get the recipe: Citrus-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce

05 of 07

Simple Herb Stuffing

simple herb stuffing recipe in a baking dish on a white tablecloth

This easy Thanksgiving favorite comes together in a snap.

Get the recipe: Simple Herb Stuffing

06 of 07

Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes in a pot on a white tablecloth

These mashed potatoes can be served right away or made up to two days in advance, making your Thanksgiving as easy as can be!

Get the recipe: Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

07 of 07

Easy Apple Galette

Easy Apple Galette recipe on a blue cloth

This simple apple-cinnamon galette is easy to make thanks to premade pie crust—no need to make your own dough!

Get the recipe: Easy Apple Galette

Now that we have the menu in place, it's time to start working on that grocery list! Turkeys can be a bit pricy and can easily take up half of the budget, so I decided to get a small, young bird which happened to be half the price of a regular-size turkey. And it was the perfect size for my six guests. Check out the rest of the items that I purchased below:

$50 Thanksgiving Shopping List

  • Young turkey (about 10 lbs.) $9.98
  • Chicken broth (32 oz.) $2.00
  • 1 (3-lb.) bag of yellow onions $3.50
  • 1 bunch of celery $1.50
  • 3 cans of green beans $3.00
  • 4 sweet potatoes $4.20
  • Maple syrup $3.00
  • 1 (2.5-lb.) bag potatoes $2.50
  • Butter $1.50
  • 1 quart of milk $2.76
  • 2 lemons $0.60
  • 2 cans of whole berry cranberry sauce $5.00
  • 1 orange $1.00
  • 1 (2-pack) pie crusts $3.00
  • 1 (2-lb.) bag of apples $3.00
  • Fresh rosemary $1.50
  • Fresh thyme $1.50

Total: $49.54

Now that we have our ingredients, it's time to start cooking. To help keep things stress-free, I like to make a few items ahead of time and store them in the freezer or fridge until Thanksgiving. This helps to eliminate spending extra time in the kitchen, and allows me to spend more time with family and friends.

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without cranberry sauce, which can be made a week ahead to save you time on the big day. There are several ways to make this dish, but I used canned, whole cranberry sauce, which saved me a lot of money. Canned cranberries usually get a bad rap, but they can be easily customized into a fabulous recipe! I jazzed up these cranberries by adding fresh orange zest and rosemary.

A few days before Thanksgiving, I like to prepare the mashed potatoes and stuffing. To make the stuffing, I used a loaf of stale bread that I already had on hand. This helped to save me a little money and eliminate unnecessary food waste.

Next up, mashed potatoes. I've always purchased instant potatoes because I thought that making homemade mashed potatoes was too hard and expensive, but that couldn't be further from the truth. My Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potato recipe only calls for about six potatoes, which costs less than $3.

The rest of the recipes can be easily prepared on Thanksgiving Day. I recommend starting with the turkey, so that you can prepare the other recipes while the turkey is cooking. EatingWell's Herb-Roasted Turkey is very easy to make. I was able to use a couple of the leftover onions, herbs, apples and lemons that I purchased for the other recipes, and it turned out great!

While the turkey was roasting, I went ahead and prepared the Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes. This simple recipe provides so much flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness. The maple syrup is the perfect touch!

The Sautéed Green Beans & Onions is a recipe that we cook for almost every holiday. To help save money, I used canned beans and added some additional flavor with onions and seasonings. Canned vegetables are seriously underrated. They are very cost-effective and a great way to provide your family with some great nutrients, while on a budget.

For dessert, instead of pie I chose an Easy Apple Galette with cinnamon. Galettes may sound fancy, but they are possibly the easiest dessert to make. To save time and money, I used pre-made pie crust sheets and a few of the apples left over from the turkey recipe. My galette tastes just like a warm apple pie, but with a lot less work!

And there you have it! A delicious, Thanksgiving meal for only $49.54! I hope these money-saving tips will help to keep you stress-free during the holiday season!

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