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3 Simple Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

By: The Art Institute of Phoenix Filed under: Culinary

November 15, 2017

By Guest Writer, Art Institutes Instructor, Chef Jo Ann Ayres

3 Simple Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget


Whether you’re not able to travel to see family for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday or you’re simply on a bit of a budget, here are a few tips to help you enjoy a special meal without breaking the bank.

1. Call up a few friends.

The simplest way to save some money is to pool your resources. If you ask around, you’ll probably find that you’re not the only one staying here for the long weekend and craving a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Round up your friends who are going to be in town and plan your dinner together. Within the group, you may even already have some of the required ingredients and equipment for cooking your meal. You can also check out the local grocery ads; usually there will be specials this time of year on many of the holiday items you may want.

2. Find full dinners available at the store.

If you consider yourself cooking challenged, but you can’t forgo the turkey, check your local grocery stores for complete holiday meals. I saw one ad for a pre-cooked meal that was enough food for six people priced under $50. That’s around $8 a serving, close to what you would pay for fast food. I’d have a hard time beating that price cooking everything from scratch. 

3. Plan a potluck.

Finally, making it an old-fashioned potluck may be the most fun option. For this solution, everyone either brings whatever dish they like most, or if you’re more organized, you can assign items such as an entrée, vegetables, desserts, etc. Sure, you won’t know exactly what the meal will consist of, but that’s what makes it exciting!

Making the Most of Your Thanksgiving

Hopefully this blog post has given you some ideas on how you can make your Thanksgiving special, no matter what your budget or where you’re spending the holiday. As a chef, I always want the food I make to be the best tasting and most beautiful, but I’ve come to realize that not everything has to be perfect to have a good Thanksgiving. I remember one year I devoted a lot of time and effort trimming my broccoli florets to be uniform, so that they would look amazing in the serving dish. However, my brother kept stirring, and stirring, the broccoli. Those beautiful florets got beat up and, in the end, were not exactly so attractive. Twenty some-odd years later, my family still laughs about the beat-up broccoli. I no longer remember much else about that meal or how it tasted, but we still laugh about that event every year. You don’t have to have flawless food to have a good time--although we now keep my brother busy with anything that doesn’t involve any cooking!

AiPhoenix Jo Ann Ayres

About the Author: Chef Jo Ann Ayres has worked in the hospitality industry for around 25 years. She has worked at a resort, multiple restaurants, and a wholesale bakery. Nineteen years ago, she joined The Art Institute of Phoenix and has been here ever since. As a Culinary instructor, she teaches basic baking as well as several of the specialty baking classes.

Explore our Culinary programs and see how you can prepare for a career in the culinary field at The Art Institutes today!


By: The Art Institute of Phoenix Filed under: Culinary

November 15, 2017

culinary