Tips for Hosting a Budget Friendly Thanksgiving – NBC Los Angeles

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you might feel overwhelmed by the cost of it all. So the I-Team went shopping and talked to a money saving expert to find ways you can host a budget-friendly Thanksgiving gathering.

From Turkey to stuffing to pies, Thanksgiving can get pricey, especially when the guest list gets long.

We wondered if it could be cheaper to order a dinner to go, instead of making it from scratch. We found one popular southern California spot selling dinner for eight to ten people for $180.

So we hit the grocery stores and shopped a similar menu. Money saving expert Andrea Woroch chimed in with lots of advice for us.

“Store brands have come a long way in the past 10 years. They really are just as good as the name brands, you’re just not getting the fancy packaging,” she said.

In fact, for our green bean casserole, at Vons, the store brand can of beans was $1 cheaper than the name brand. At Walmart, the store brand cream of mushroom soup was just 50 cents, compared to $1.72 for the brand name.

We found the same thing for turkey; the brand name was often $1 more per pound, which can really add up.

Woroch says to start looking for deals now. Yesenia Gonzalez, who’s hosting Thanksgiving dinner, follows that advice.

“We try to do it early on just to save money and to budget,” she said.

With budget conscious shopping in mind, and assuming you have some staples on hand, we created a similar feast to the $180 to-go dinner for much less. We spent $74 at Vons, $59 at Walmart and $60 at Food 4 Less.

And here are some other tips we learned along the way. Pies from the bakery section can be pricier than frozen ones. And we often found frozen name brand pies on sale. That made it even cheaper than making a pie from scratch.

Another way to save: follow Woroch’s advice and buy a smaller turkey and fill the table with inexpensive side dishes, which many of us like better anyway.

Woroch also suggests having your guests chip in. Ashley Barrett is taking that advice.

“I’m asking other people to also bring dishes to help with sharing the cost of everything,” she said.

Woroch recommends the website perfectpotluck as an easy way to organize it all.

“This way there’s no guessing who’s bringing what. You have the plan, you know everything will go smoothly,” she said.

Woroch suggests watching grocery store ads for deals, like stores offering free turkeys with a purchase. And if you plan to serve alcohol, stick to one signature cocktail, instead of stocking a full bar; you can also ask guests to bring a bottle of wine.

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