Thanksgiving: Being thankful on a budget



Time To Be Thankful; Not Broke


Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year and it’s coming up right around the corner so I like to get planning in advance especially for the dinner and decorations. Thanksgiving is when I get to spend time with my family and friends eating lots of good food while celebrating what we are thankful for in our busy, everyday lives.

We celebrate the people and things that bring us happiness, the loved ones who are always there with the support we need and the beauty of the world in which we live in and all it has to offer.

Quality time spent with those who are important to us shouldn’t put a strain on our budgets nor should the process of organizing a large gathering so taking it step by step is crucial to the success of the holiday as is the participation of those you love.

The cost of hosting a large gathering can get high pretty quick but with some holiday meal planning and preparation there are ways that you can keep the costs down and still enjoy a lovely meal that will create memories for years to come.

Is there a better way to spend time with the ones you love than enjoying a nice, bountiful meal together?

I don’t know about your family, but when my family gets together we like to eat, and we eat a lot! Our family of six has grown to be a family of 14 in only a couple of years requiring more food to fill all our tummies.

I look forward to the comatose state of eating too much food and needing a nap after dinner as I’m sure you can all relate to.

Family meals in our home are becoming more expensive as our family continues to grow so we are always looking for ways to save money in the grocery budget even if it means cooking from scratch and trying new dishes that we haven’t tried before.


Thanksgiving Dinner on A budget


Thinking ahead and planning throughout the year for these large meals can be helpful in minimizing the cost of your dinner.

Making a turkey isn’t cheap. An 18 lb turkey will typically feed 18-20 costing around $50.00 for the turkey alone.

You do not have to follow the tradition of making a turkey with all the fixings. If a turkey is not in your budget or you would like to cook something else go for it, do not feel that you have to stick to tradition.

Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for the wonderful things we have in our lives, the meal is a bonus! Keep your eye on your flyers, buy early if you find a good sale, you can freeze it until it’s needed.

Stuffing…How many of you don’t like to eat the heels of a loaf of bread? Throw them in the freezer and they are perfect to rip up and use for making your Thanksgiving stuffing. You save money not having to buy loaves of bread or boxed stuffing and you avoid wasting bread throughout the year.

Food waste contributes to higher costs in your grocery budget so if you can use up what you have in the refrigerator or pantry before it goes off or freeze it for later use you are spending less and getting more bang for your buck.

My mom has done this for years and I quite often find myself throwing what we don’t use in the freezer and that works for me because I don’t want to have to spend any more money than I need to.


Co-host Thanksgiving dinner


Another great option is to co-host the dinner and split the work and cost with a family member. There’s no reason why one person has to do all the work. If you can get a few people together during the planning process you can host a holiday party the easy way while having others participate in the process.


Have a potluck!


Ask family members to bring a side-dish to contribute to the meal (maybe you provide the turkey) and everyone shares the costs of the meal. It’s also a great way to try new and various recipes that you might not have been inspired to make or maybe you have never heard of them before.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a potluck where someone isn’t asking another for the recipe for a dish they brought. It’s a great way to start and build conversations at a gathering as well.


In-Store deals and coupons


Around the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Easter, companies quite often offer coupons for products many of us use. These coupons can be found in various magazines, on companies Facebook pages, newspaper inserts and often on in store products.

Baking magazines with multiple coupons are also normally circulating around the holidays. Keep your eye out for these as they can be a money-saving tool for your Thanksgiving dinner.


Make your own meal


Skip the store-bought pie and dessert and make your own, after all homemade is cheaper than store-bought and tastes far more superior than anything you can buy in a box, jar or can.

How to make pumpkin puree for baking


pumpkin pie pumpkin

There are a few different methods used for making pumpkin puree including steaming and roasting and boiling. For the amount of time required and how easy it is to do I like to boil mine.

4.0 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin Puree
  • I pie pumpkin
  1. Select your pie pumpkin. Pie pumpkins are smaller than a pumpkin you would use for a jack-o-lantern. There are varieties of pumpkins that are better for baking being a little sweeter and having a nicer texture. I purchased mine for $2.00 at the local pumpkin farm down the road.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and stringy goodness inside.
  3. Cut into multiple smaller pieces which can then be peeled before or after cooking.
  4. I like to boil the pumpkin with the skin on, it separates from the pumpkin went it boils, peeling it raw is more work.
  5. Boil in a pot big enough to cover all pieces, boil for approximately 25 minutes until they are nice and tender.
  6. Remove carefully from the pot (the pieces may fall apart) and easily remove the skin using a sharp knife to skim if it off if needed.
  7. Using a blender, a food processor or even a hand mixer, blend the pumpkin into puree.
  8. If desired, but not required, you may wish to run the puree through a sieve or cheesecloth for a smoother texture.
  9. Use in your favourite pumpkin recipe or freeze in portions to use at a later time


For $2.00 and approximately 40 minutes I measured out 4 ½ cups of puree compared to 2 cups that you typically get out of a can for around $3.00. A single pumpkin pie recipe usually requires 2 cups of pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin puree can easily be frozen and it’s good to use within a year or so. Another great frugal recipe you can check out is Mr.CBB’s Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake which is great for any Thanksgiving dinner if you want to eliminate the crust but keep the same great pumpkin pie flavour.




Autumn is my favourite season of the year. Summer has come and gone and we are left with leaves off all colours blanketing the ground, chestnuts and walnuts dropping off the trees, cool mornings and shorter days, summer is packing it in for the winter.

Take the kids for an afternoon nature walk and see what you can find to make a centre piece for your dinner table, chestnuts pines cones, or the reddish-orange leaves of a Sugar Maple tree can add some colour to your table.

Remember to always be respectful of what and where you take things from.


Support local pumpkin farms. Pumpkin farms are the place to be in the fall especially if you have young kids. Many farms offer corn mazes, hay rides, fresh-baked goods, and of course pumpkins for sale.

Along with pumpkins most sell ears of ornamental corn, corn stalks, hay bales, gourds and squash offered at reasonable, affordable prices which can be used to create a table centre piece, decorate a porch or used to make a wreath for your front door. Our local farm sells gourds 3 for $1.00, bunches of ornamental corn for $1.00, hay bales for $3.00.

Don’t be shy to check out your local dollar store as well as any free online websites like Freecycle or Kijiji where you might find some great holiday decorations for less.

Decorating your home inside and out for Thanksgiving can easily be affordable.

What are you thankful for?

This year I am thankful for my 2 beautiful children who put a smile on my face day after day, my family, friends and co-workers who continually show me support and encouragement. Remember, the best things in life are free so let’s be thankful for the time we have in life and the people we get to enjoy it with.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families this year!


How do you minimize the cost of celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones?


Are you NEW to Canadian Budget Binder?

Related articles
Katrina B

Author Bio: Katrina B

Katrina is a regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store merchandising representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario. If you would like to know more about her landscaping services simply email Mr.CBB at


  1. Mary F. Campbell says:

    Thanks for a wonderful blog entry Katrina!

    Hubby and I are planning our trip to the pumpkin patch for late October and I have my pumpkin bread all picked for our mini-harvest celebration. Thanks for the tips on making a pumpkin puree!

    When my mother passed on 24 years ago, my family of origin stopped celebrating Thanksgiving together. Hubby and I tend to have very non-traditional Thanksgiving celebrations but we celebrate nonetheless. This year we are postponing our Thanksgiving celebration until the American Thanksgiving. I plan to make a wonderful home cooked meal for my sweetie to come home to… at the end of a busy work day. Technology means that we can even enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade together after our supper, to kick off our holiday season!

    I guess I should start thinking about my meal plans since I am saving our turkey dinner for early December when hubby is off for the month so that we can enjoy creating all sorts of turkey leftover remakes and get a lot of mileage from one little bird. 😀

    • That sounds great Mary! I’m sure you will both enjoy. I love pumpkin bread..I may bake some tomorrow! Hope you and Hubby have a great Thanksgiving 🙂

  2. I love Thanksgiving – it’s definitely one of my favorite holidays, because of the food and family. However, you are right – it can get super expensive. We try to do a potluck Thanksgiving or something of that nature to cut down on the costs. I also find getting to the stores earlier is helpful

    • I love potlucks, always a good variety of food. Shopping before the holiday rush allows you to take advantage of various sales, and less people in the stores too! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Christine Weadick says:

    Great article Katrina!!! Most years we have a get together at my one SIL’s place as she is between us and the other SIL. She cooks the bird and the potatoes and we do the potluck number for the rest of the meal. I usually get asked to brings desserts and the home made cranberry sauce. We all pitch in to clean up after so she isn’t left with all those dirty dishes either.
    I’ve saved the bread bits for years, my Mom did it for years too….freezer burnt hotdog and hamburger buns crumble nicely for the stuffing!!, I got my turkey for us yesterday at No Frills… $.87 lb!!! I got a nice size turkey for $12.52!!! Happy about that, I make stock from the remains and get a good number of meals out of one bird. I’ll get my money’s worth out of it for sure!!
    Last year Thanksgiving was rather rough for us as hubby was in hospital. Things were touch and go for a while, not knowing what to expect. This year he is stable and doing much better than the doctors ever thought so that is high on the thankful list…..we have a sweet little boy that calls us Moomah and Poopah and gives the best little boys hugs and kisses!!!!!, we are here and we are together….. It’s good……..

  4. I think a potluck is the best way to save and celebrate the idea of giving thanks. Every year, the weekend before thanksgiving, my friends host a huge “friendsgiving” potluck for about 40 people. They make a turkey, we bring the rest. It’s really wonderful.

  5. I minimize cost by going over to someone else’s house. Either they usually make everything and I bring a dessert and/or wine, or it’s a potluck situation. I almost never host thanksgiving, mainly because my cooking is awful and my place is too small. 🙂

  6. It will be a low key Thanksgiving dinner this year since it will be just me and my husband, however, your post will come into handy in the future. Thank you for the reminder to start thinking about all I am thankful for this year!

  7. We host Thanksgiving at our house but we whoever comes over, brings the pies or any other dessert. Okay, now I’m hungry! 🙂

    • Mmm I love pie! I’m hungry now too! The variety of desserts is nice too since not everyone likes pumpkin pie! Someone in our family always brings an apple pie just in case!

  8. Katrina, I view Thanksgiving exactly the same way you do! Nothing better than sharing a meal with loved ones and eating lots of awesome food. LOVE the idea about freezing the heels of the bread – we’re going to start doing that immediately! I always host Thanksgiving for our extended family, and our deal to keep it frugal since we’re on such a tight budget right now is that my mom buys the turkey, I prepare it and all of the cheaper dishes, and everyone else brings something. Also, I watch the sales in the weeks before Thanksgiving and pick up ingredients here and there while they’re on sale. Great post!

    • Thanks Laurie, it sounds like you host a lovely dinner! My extended family is rather large, we don’t all get together too often these days but when we do…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, our potlucks are incredible!

  9. We always end up traveling to see family at Thanksgiving. I guess it cuts down on food costs, but there are travel expenses. It’s a good time though. I almost prefer it to Christmas because there are no gifts to think about.

    • I have sisters who travel a lot to come home for holidays. It’s get expensive for them. We love having them home though! We have enough occasions already to receive gifts, Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have!

  10. I’m thankful everyday when I wake up my cutie daughter is beside me, I may have not much but her love for me is perfect! When we celebrate our thanksgiving we usually do the potluck. And I’m the one who is responsible in decorating and I love doing that. 🙂

    • Clarisse kids are a great gift, it’s amazing how they can change your perspective on life. Have fun decorating and hope you enjoy a great meal!

  11. For the first time ever I will have a cousin with us for Thanksgiving this year. I only have 2 first cousins, one in the UK (paternal)and one in New Zealand (maternal). This year I will be “gratitude personified” to celebrate with my only paternal cousin who, at almost 80, has never traveled anywhere by plane, nor been to visit us since we arrived in Canada in January, 1951. I saw her last in England in 1999, and went to NZ in 2001 for my uncle’s 100th birthday. I have felt so separated from each of these special women and my words are inadequate to describe how much Thanksgiving will mean to me this year. Katrina has written a lovely post – I am thankful to have met Katrina this year, she is a lovely person and I feel privileged to call her a friend. I am also thankful for Mr CBB and this blog, which introduced me to Katrina and which has brought me some new caring friends and some inspired meals! Bring on Thanksgiving and let us celebrate our many blessings – and introduce my cousin to pumpkin pie!!!!

    • Oh Mary I have hope you have an amazing visit with your cousin! I’m happy to hear that! I am very thankful to have met you as well, you are a beautiful soul with a big heart. I will be up your way in a couple weeks maybe I’ll pop in for a visit? Happy Thanksgiving Mary and family xoxo

      • Katrina give me some warning before popping in, have to tidy the front beds!!!! I fell apart in the heat . . . have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your precious kidlings!! <3

  12. Keeping the food waste down helps to keep the meal in budget–I always look for recipes to make the leftovers take on a life of their own–and not just Thanksgiving take 2.

  13. Hi Katrina!

    Thank you very much for sharing this post. Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday. I will definitely try this. I believe that my family will really love this.


  14. This Life On Purpose says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I love anything made with pumpkin, but I’ve never experimented with it myself. I’ve now got a project for the weekend: pumkin pie 🙂

Add Your Comment


Rate this recipe: