Thanksgiving will be more expensive this year — here’s how you can save

Thanksgiving turkey
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This Thanksgiving, 38% of consumers are planning on paying more than they did last year, for the same amount of food. The price of potatoes has gone up 30% in the last year, pumpkin pie a whopping 147% and eggs an even crazier 217%. 

With grocery prices so high due to inflation, not to mention a turkey shortage, this Thanksgiving will be costly for many. However, the below tips can help you cut costs when preparing for the big day.

Start shopping early  

To keep from spending more than you can reasonably afford, it’s important to have a budget and start shopping early. This means working out how much in total you’ll be able to spend, broken down into a comprehensive shopping list. By going ahead and listing out what you’ll buy and for how much, it’ll cut back on the urge to make impulse purchases and avoid waste.

You may even decide to be flexible in what specifically you buy, but you should go into the store with a definitive budget. Plus, by shopping early, you’ll be able to take advantage of the best deals. Giving yourself time to shop around for the best deals on products is important this holiday season, especially since your money won’t go as far in times of high inflation. 

Have flexibility with your menu 

A simple way to save this Thanksgiving is to have flexibility when planning your menu. By being flexible in what you plan on making, you’ll be able to plan your meals around the best deals. You may also want to forgo tradition in order to save some extra cash. Since last year, frozen turkey prices have increased from $1.15 per pound to $1.47 per pound for the week of October 28 to November 3, 2022.

Opting for a different type of meat, like chicken, could be an easy swap if you’re looking to save as much money as possible this holiday. But we know at least some of you just shuddered reading that. 

Opt for a potluck style meal 

Especially if you’re getting together with family, opting for a potluck style Thanksgiving dinner could save you a lot of cash. Instead of making everything for everyone, try getting each guest to bring something. This way, the cost (and effort) of Thanksgiving dinner isn’t such a burden on you. Maybe you’ll prepare the turkey and your guests will bring the sides. However you want to do it, spreading the cost of dinner between multiple people will cut back on how much each person spends this year.  

Use a Cash Back app 

Using a cash back app can be an easy way to save a few dollars here and there leading up to Thanksgiving, whether you’re shopping for groceries or filling up your tank at the gas station. These apps offer exclusive discounts and rewards at thousands of stores, helping you earn on the purchases you’re already making. For example, the app Rakuten (for iOS and Android) is one of the best cashback apps for shopping as it partners with over 3,500 stores.

According to their website, they’ve paid users over $2 billion in cash back, so it’s no wonder why it's so popular among users. It's an easy way to cut costs where you can.  

Save on travel 

Being flexible on what days you'll travel will let you take advantage of the cheapest deals. Airline prices vary depending on the day; flights booked in the middle of the week will be cheaper than those on weekends. Booking flights for Thanksgiving travel on Nov 21-23 will offer some of the cheapest prices this year, according to GoBankingRates, as will flying on Thanksgiving itself. 

Another easy way to keep up with the best flight deals is to download a flight tracking app. This takes the leg work out of finding the best deals and will even update you when prices drop. Additionally, not checking baggage is a way to avoid expensive fees. Especially if you’re traveling with a large family, avoiding baggage fees could potentially cost you hundreds of dollars.

Because of the cost of airfare, you may also reconsider driving instead of flying, as a way to save money. If this is the case, just make sure you’re saving on gas as best as you can. 

Erin Bendig
Staff writer, personal finance

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.