10 Tips to Turn Thanksgiving into a Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Gathering

Don’t let the holiday season spending stress you out. Try these 10 tips to turn Thanksgiving into a budget-friendly plant-based gathering.

Eating seasonally tastes better and reduces supply chain strain
Table full of fall vegetables
  • Published: 9/12/2023
  • 5 min. read

Thanksgiving is around the corner and you feel thankful to have friends or family to celebrate with plant-based foods. Don’t let the holiday season spending stress you out. Try these 10 tips to turn Thanksgiving into a budget-friendly plant-based gathering.

10 Tips to Turn Thanksgiving into a Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Gathering

Thankfully, plant-based eating is not only healthy, it can also be very budget-friendly. Research even shows that eating vegan meals at home can result in 30 percent less spending than meat-based meals (1). So whether you’re hosting a Thanksgiving or attending an event, you’re already saving more than those who gobble more meat. To save even more, here are 10 tips to turn your Thanksgiving into a budget-friendly plant-based gathering.

Less is more 

Just because it's a special day, doesn’t mean you have to watch hours of cooking tutorials or search the neighborhood for the newest and best plant-based ingredients. Keep it simple by serving a Thanksgiving Bowl instead. 

Start with a base of affordable grains like brown rice, couscous, or barely. Top with some seasonal vegetables like green beans or chard, roasted tofu, and sprinkle with some crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds or nuts. 

Potluck party 

If you’re hosting, it already calls for a lot of prep, planning, and spending. Don’t add extra stress for yourself and your wallet by supplying everything. Plant-based potlucks are the perfect way to save! 

Create an excel sheet or chat group where everyone signs up for their favorite dish. This way you can see if the dishes mix well together and make sure nothing goes missing. To make your life easier, ask each person to contribute to cleaning up their own dishes. People are usually happy to help and it can encourage your group to get moving and prevent the post Thanksgiving serotonin sleepies. 

Soup and sides 

Stocking up on soup and vegetable sides will keep your Thanksgiving guests full with minimal cost for you. Plus, soups and some sides can be made in advance to save you time the day of; just simply reheat and top with some fresh herbs. 

Save extra vegetables a couple weeks before Thanksgiving or keep them in the freezer ahead of time. Blend them in a soup, throw them into a casserole, or bake them into a loaf of bread (like carrot or zucchini). 

Check out more tips on how to keep your Thanksgiving sustainable without sacrificing the flavor: Sustainable Cooking: Tips from Our in-House Chef.

Get thrifty 

Save cash by stocking up on serving gear from a thrift store. Find plates, cutlery, glasses, and other fun tableware there without overspending. Plus, you’ll be lending a helping hand to the environment by limiting the disposable stuff. Still don’t have enough or don’t want extra stuff? Ask friends and family to bring some!

Natural decorations 

Nature is beautiful so why not use it to decorate indoors too? Go for a nice walk and grab some branches and leaves to make a centerpiece. Use your small potted plants and herbs to celebrate the holiday of abundance. Decorate like the first Thanksgiving by creating a cornucopia full of produce then eat it or share it afterwards!

Love your leftovers 

Sometimes Thanksgiving leftovers may even be better than the meal itself. Use the leftovers to create new dishes for the next week or two. Use leftover sides or casserole dishes to top your salads. Try putting extra vegetables in a yummy bowl or soup, such as this 

Carrot and sweet potato soup. If you’re vegan, simply swap the quark for some tofu. If you have extra ingredients, such as nuts, add them to your breakfast oats. 

Stick with seasonal 

Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables can save you money and give you better flavor (2). That’s because you won’t be paying for the cost to transport them. As a bonus, if you get them from your local farmers market, the farmer may offer you a discounted rate for bulk or if the market is closing and they are trying to sell their stock. Not sure what’s in season? Check out: The Most Nutritious and Delicious Fall Produce.

Pick more plant-based 

If you’re not a full vegetarian or vegan, but want to explore a more plant-based way of life, start by incorporating more plant dishes. Use half the amount of meat, dairy, or poultry for your Thanksgiving dishes and fill the other half with nutrient-rich vegetables. Not only will your body thank you, you’ll also be saving money. Try protein rich options such as beans, lentils, or whole-grains to keep the satisfying sensation.

Make a mocktail

Considering how much a nice bottle of wine or spirit costs, you could be saving dozens of dollars on booze, if you aim for alcohol free. Not only will reducing alcohol save you cash, it also helps prevent disease. Heavy alcohol drinking can negatively affect our brains, hearts, gut health, and immune system (3). If you enjoy drinking, try switching off, one mocktail then one drink of your choice. Get inspired and enjoy sipping on these Best Holiday Mocktails and Non-Alcoholic Mixed Drinks

Don’t shop hungry

As a word of advice, never go to the grocery store hungry. Even if you planned what to buy, your hungry body and mind will likely influence you otherwise. Write a shopping list, have a snack before you go, then stick to the list. This also holds true for your party. It’s best to eat a healthy meal or snack a few hours before, to limit overeating. 

Want more delicious recipes to turn your Thanksgiving into a budget-friendly plant-based gathering? Download Lifesum and you’ll be thankful.  

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