Create a Pinterest-Worthy Thanksgiving Dinner for $30

image source: brooke mclay
image source: brooke mclay

Want to host a Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t have a big-time party budget? Though it’s easy to think holiday feasts are over-the-top expensive, it’s actually quite easy to cook up an incredible meal without being extravagant.

The trick to making an affordable spread for your festive soiree comes down to recipe and ingredient selection. If you’re willing to rethink the traditional turkey, you can still cook up favorite holiday flavors while saving serious dough. Add in a few simple sides with seasonal veggies, and suddenly you’ll have a table full of irresistible eats.

Here’s how to revamp the classics and dish up a $30 holiday meal:

  • Turkey & Stuffing | $8 Cranberry Glazed Turkey & Stuffing Meatloaf
  • Green Bean Casserole | $6 Zucchini & Tomato Gratin
  • Rolls | $5 Cornbread Skillet
  • Sweet Potatoes | $3 Glazed Carrots
  • Round Pies | $8 Blueberry Slab Pie

(Price Note: Where did I get these prices? All items were purchased at a low-cost standard grocer in Salt Lake City, Utah. The prices above assume you’ll be utilizing basic ingredients already in your kitchen like butter, eggs, and honey.)

Image source: Brooke McLay
Image source: Brooke McLay

Looking to save even more cashola? Peel and slice apples instead of using berries for the pie. Shop the grocery sales. And use dried herbs instead of fresh. These tiny little swaps can cut a few extra bucks without diminishing flavor.

Gorgeous and gourmet-inspired, this holiday menu is easy on the purse and even easier on the taste buds. Make, celebrate, and enjoy!

Image source: Brooke McLay
Image source: Brooke McLay

Cranberry Glazed Turkey & Stuffing Meatloaf

Don’t dish out the big bucks for a giant bird! Make your own meatloaf with inexpensive ground turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and get all the same flavor without the big budget.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes


  • 1 (6-ounce) box turkey, chicken, or cornbread stuffing
  • 1 (14-ounce can) chicken broth
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, pour broth over stuffing mix. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add turkey and eggs to stuffing mixture.
  4. Press mixture into a 9×5″ nonstick loaf pan.
  5. Spread cranberry sauce on top (if desired).
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan, slicing, and sharing. Enjoy!
image source: brooke mclay
image source: brooke mclay

Honey Glazed Herbed Carrots

Kissed with ginger, garlic, and honey, these herbed carrots pack serious flavor punch (without punching a hole in your wallet).

Makes: 9 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 4 cups baby carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1″ piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (parsley, sage, fennel, thyme), if desired
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Place baby carrots in a large pot or skillet.
  2. Cover with water and boil until tender, about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Drain water from the pot, add garlic, ginger, butter, and honey to the carrots.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter sauce begins to boil.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in herbs.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Image source: Brook McLay
Image source: Brook McLay

Vegetarian Cornbread Skillet

Serve this hearty cornbread skillet and you’ll have something on the table for your vegetarian friends, too! This simple dish makes clever use of those inexpensive cornbread mixes, which can often be purchased for just 50 cents each!

Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 (8.5-ounce) boxed cornbread mixes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup scallions, freshly chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, stir together cornbread mix, eggs, and milk. Set aside.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, stir together tomatoes, black beans, corn, and scallions.
  3. Spoon cornbread batter on top.
  4. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until the cornbread turns golden brown.
  5. Remove and cool slightly before serving.
Image source: Brooke McLay
Image source: Brooke McLay

Zucchini Tomato Gratin

Make yourself a stunning side dish using inexpensive squash and sliced roma tomatoes. If you don’t already have Parmesan in your pantry, the cheapest option is to buy bottled grated Parmesan, usually found in the salad dressing aisle.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 3 zucchini, sliced
  • 3 yellow squash, sliced
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 stick butter, melted (or 1/3 cup olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a 9×9″ baking dish, coated with nonstick baking spray, then place sweet onion slices all over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Stack zucchini, squash, and tomato slices together, laying stacks across the pan.
  4. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until Parmesan is golden brown and zucchini is very tender.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
image source: brooke mclay
image source: brooke mclay

Blueberry Slab Pie

Pre-made pie crust and frozen blueberries. This simple recipe couldn’t be easier. Or more perfect for a crowd.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes


  • 2 (14.1-ounce) boxes refrigerated pie crust
  • 3 pounds frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, well beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Open one box of pie crust, pressing the dough into the bottom of a 9×13″ nonstick baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, toss blueberries with 3/4 cup sugar, flour, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  4. Pour into crust-lined pan.
  5. Unroll second box of pie crust, pressing both rounds together to form one large piece.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into long, 1″ wide strips.
  7. Place strips across the pie lengthwise.
  8. Then weave the remaining pieces in widthwise, creating a latticed top crust.
  9. Press the edges of the top and bottom doughs together.
  10. Brush top crust with egg and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the pie turns golden brown and the blueberry mixture begins to bubble.
  12. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, then slice and serve.
Image source: Brooke McLay
Image source: Brooke McLay
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