9 Thanksgiving Swaps That Will Help You Spend Less Money

#3: Choose recipes that call for frozen vegetables instead of fresh.



Mid section of woman holding bill in grocery section of supermarket

Photo by: Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Ahh, Turkey Day. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, quality family time … and a whole lot of expenses. But this year, I’ve got you covered with a bunch of smart swaps you can make to shave off the dollars. Many of these are tips that I’ve used myself over the years — read on to find out everything I've learned.




Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

1. Cook Turkey Parts Instead of a Whole Turkey

If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, consider swapping out the whole turkey for turkey breasts and making Roast Turkey Breasts with Gravy. They’ll cost less money than the whole bird and will be a lot easier to roast. (If you compare the pound to pound price of turkey parts to a whole turkey, the whole turkey will be less expensive. But you’ll be buying way fewer pounds, which makes sense if you're servng fewer people anyway). You might also think about cooking turkey breast cutlets or tenderloins, which also cost less than a whole bird and are as easy to prepare as chicken.

Katie Lee makes Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Ketchup Glaze and Roasted Sweet potato wedges, as seen on The Kitchen, season 26.

2. Or Make a Thanksgiving Turkey Casserole Instead of a Whole Turkey

Speaking of forgoing the whole bird, if you’re cool with the idea, think about taking it one step further and buying ground turkey, which really saves dollars. Plus, a lot of Thanksgiving meatloaf recipes mashup several sides. Take Katie Lee’s Fall Meatloaf, in which you mix stuffing into the meatloaf and glaze it with cranberry sauce. In essence, the dish combines a main dish and two sides. Therefore, when you make this recipe, you can probably forgo making those sides altogether, and save even more money.

Scalloped Corn

Photo by: Armando Rafael ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Armando Rafael, © 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

3. Swap Frozen Vegetables for Fresh Veggies

It’s a fact that veggies are expensive, especially when they’re out of season. But that’s where frozen vegetables come into play. They’re flash frozen at the peak of freshness, meaning their quality is typically great. I recommend seeking out recipes that specifically call for frozen veggies, instead of trying to swap frozen veggies into recipes that call for fresh. See, for example, Ree Drummond’s Peas and Carrots recipe or this Scalloped Corn recipe, which would make a fantastic sides.

4. Simmer Some Mulled Wine

Fun fact: mulled wine basically exists to use up leftover or cheap wine — so make some instead of buying a pricey bottle. Think about it: you simmer wine with a bunch of warm spices to cover up the flavor. The best part is that mulled wine seems quite fancy, like you went to the trouble of making a custom cocktail. So grab a bottle that’s less than $10 and start simmering. May I suggest checking out Ina Garten's recipe, Mulled Wine?



Photo by: La Bicicleta Vermella/Getty Images

La Bicicleta Vermella/Getty Images

5. Use Cheaper Nuts Instead of More Expensive Ones

Stroll down the bulk foods aisle, and you’ll soon realize that not all nuts are created equal in terms of price. Although your stuffing might call for pistachios or pine nuts, here’s a pro tip: walnuts and almonds will do just as well in your recipe, and they’re significantly less expensive.



Indoor Herb Garden, Potted Container Plant by Window Sill

Photo by: zeljkosantrac/Getty Images

zeljkosantrac/Getty Images

6. Buy Potted Herbs Instead of Grocery Store Clamshells

Why are those tiny clamshells of herbs at the grocery store so darn expensive? And they contain barely any herbs! It seems like every Thanksgiving dish relies heavily on one if not several different herbs, and a great way to save some money is to buy potted herbs from your local nursery. They tend to be less expensive than the fresh cut herbs at the grocery store — and if you take care of them after Thanksgiving, you’ll also save money in the long run.

Food Network Kitchen Step by Steps Beauty Chicken Stock



7. Make Your Own Chicken Stock Instead of Buying It

Between the stuffing and the gravy, Thanksgiving calls for a lot of broth — and it all adds up. But if you plan ahead, it’s totally possible (and easy) to make your own for practically no cost at all. Plus, homemade stock supercharges all your recipes with extra flavor. The next time you roast a whole chicken (or cook bone-in chicken thighs or breasts), save the bones and freeze them. Likewise, whenever you have leftover veggie scraps (carrot peels and tops, wilty celery, sad herbs and onions), toss them in the freezer bag too. Soon, you’ll accumulate enough to make stock and all you’ll have to do is add water and simmer. Here’s Food Network’s recipe for The Best Chicken Stock; you’ll see that it calls for some very specific aromatics — but it’s totally okay to swap in an equivalent volume of the veggies you have.



Dried shiitake mushrooms over table.

Photo by: Flavia Morlachetti/Getty Images

Flavia Morlachetti/Getty Images

8. Used Dried Mushrooms Instead of Fresh

Fun fact: many restaurants lean heavily on dried mushrooms because they last a long time and pack more flavor than fresh mushrooms so you can use fewer, making them cost-effective. Use them in stuffing and casseroles, swapping about three ounces of dried mushrooms for every pound of fresh mushrooms in a recipe.



Mise en place pressure-cooked chocolate bread pudding with liqueur. Ingredients are bowl of chopped 90% chocolate, four eggs having been slightly beaten, milk, liqueur, butter bread slices and buttered soufflé dish.

Photo by: annick vanderschelden photography/Getty Images

annick vanderschelden photography/Getty Images

9. Buy Milk at the Drugstore Instead of the Grocery Store

Surprise, some staples like milk and paper towels are significantly less expensive at drugstores. I learned this because I live across the street from one, and often run out when I need staples. In addition to my personal experience, I’ve chatted with friends in other parts of the country who have experienced the same thing. Brilliant!

Related Links:

Next Up

Behind the Scenes of The Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Christmas

Browse insider snapshots of Ree's down-home seasonal bash with local ranchers and their families.

DIY Grocery Store Centerpieces

These DIY projects can be made in a flash and, best of all, require only materials found at the grocery store.

Holiday Brunch Buffet Game Plan

Throwing a brunch buffet? We'll take you through the play-by-play for getting it all to the table.

Planning a Holiday Cocktail Party

You're throwing a cocktail party! Here are some Food Network suggestions that will take you through the entire planning process from the drinks to the snacks to the theme.

Holiday Table Settings for $10 or Less

Get great decor on a budget with these ideas that won't break your holiday bank.

Cupcake Toppers in 10 Minutes or Less

These cute decorations are a quick way to dress up your favorite cupcake recipe just in time for the holidays.

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Call it the ultimate holiday potluck: Seven chefs bring seven great dishes to the table for an old Italian Christmas Eve tradition.

5 Tips for Thanksgiving Savings

Trim costs on the biggest meal of the year by putting these five tips into practice.

How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner for Less Than $100

We put together several detailed menus.

How to Make Your Holiday Dinner Special — Without Breaking the Bank

Add some holiday magic to your meal AND stick to your budget.

Related Pages