Tips for Hosting a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving – NBC Los Angeles

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

From turkey to stuffing to pies, Thanksgiving can get expensive, especially when the guest list is long.

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

So we went to grocery stores and bought a similar menu. Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch gave us lots of tips.

“House brands have come a long way in the last 10 years. They really are as good as the name brands, you just don’t get 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 only 50 cents, compared to $1.72 for the brand.

We found the same for turkey; brand name often cost an extra $1 per book, which can really add up.

Woroch says to start looking for deals now. Thanksgiving dinner host Yesenia Gonzalez takes that advice.

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

With budget-conscious shopping in mind and assuming you have basics on hand, we’ve created a feast similar to the $180 take-out dinner for a whole lot less. We spent $74 at Vons, $59 at Walmart, and $60 at Food 4 Less.

And here are some other tips we’ve learned along the way. Pies from the bakery section can be more expensive than frozen ones. And we often found frozen branded pies on sale. This made it even cheaper than making a pie from scratch.

Another way to save: take Woroch’s advice and buy a smaller turkey and fill the table with inexpensive sides, which many of us prefer anyway.

Woroch also suggests that your guests participate. Ashley Barrett follows this advice.

“I’m asking other people to bring dishes as well to help share the cost of everything,” she said.

Woroch recommends the site perfectpotluck as an easy way to organize everything.

“That way, there’s no guessing who gets what. You have the plan, you know it’s going to be okay,” she said.

Woroch suggests looking at grocery store ads for deals, such as stores offering free turkeys with a purchase. And if you plan on serving alcohol, stick to a signature cocktail, instead of stocking a full bar; you can also ask guests to bring a bottle of wine.

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