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Thanksgiving Meal Plan for Under $50

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. This content is intended for readers who are 21 and over. #doingthe99 #99yourthanksgiving #CollectiveBias

In our home, one of the best holidays for family memories around the table is Thanksgiving. It seems like Thanksgiving is the holiday when everybody pulls out all the stops.

It's not the turkey or the ham that get all the attention; it's the side dishes.

We got everything to make every single side dish on this Thanksgiving meal plan at the 99 Cents Only stores, coming to a total of less than $50, including the fresh ingredients and produce!

Watch this video to see how:

Use this handy list to jump to the recipes and information you want from here.

Table of Contents:

Why shop the 99 for Thanksgiving?

Now before we get into the full reveal of this Thanksgiving feast on a budget I'll share how we decided on which menu items to create.

In our family, we rotate hosting the Thanksgiving meal between our family members' homes, everyone bringing a dish because planning and preparing the meal can often costs in the hundreds of dollars, especially when we're talking about the WHOLE family coming over.

Hosting Thanksgiving doesn't need to be stressful on the budget; that's why my first stop for Thanksgiving meal planning was the 99 Cents Only Store.

Though we only have 6 guests for this particular meal, we prepared enough food for 12 guests, which how many we'd normally host on Thanksgiving. And we did it for under $50 by shopping at the 99!

My first stop as a 99er was the produce aisle and the seasonal décor section where I gathered inspiration for this meal plan meal.

Yes, all of these items are from the 99!

I've seen similar flatware at other stores for $5 a pack while they're only $0.99 at the 99. And the wood trivets and cutting boards, which give the table a warm look, are $0.99 to $1.99 at 99 Cents Only.

The décor and place settings aren't included in the $50 food budget and I'll be explaining how I created the table décor in another post, coming soon.

Not only did the 99 have everything we needed to create a beautiful Pinterest-pretty table for Thanksgiving but they also had all of the produce and ingredients needed to create a bountiful Thanksgiving spread.

In the 99's produce section I was gathering the main staples that you would need for a Thanksgiving meal like sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, and carrots.

When I spotted these gorgeous yellow and purple-red heirloom tomatoes in a box of 2 for $0.99!

There is always something new and exciting at the 99. You never know what you'll find when you “do the 99” (shop at 99 Cents Only Stores)! I knew that I wanted these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes to be part of the fresh ingredients in our Thanksgiving feast.

And I still am so excited to find them at the 99 for less than a quarter of what I'd pay elsewhere! Without coupons.

I planned the rest of the meal recipes around the idea of celebrating fresh produce and groceries available at 99 Cents Only.

We focused on peppers, spices, and other Latin and Mexican influenced flavors to give the traditional Thanksgiving meal a little bit of a Southwestern twist.

Want more Southwest Thanksgiving side dishes? Check out this Butternut Squash and Chorizo Hash.

I picked up a selection of wine from the 99's vast collection of domestic and imported wine. I mean seriously, wine at the 99?! And totally for a fraction of what I'd expect to pay at a grocery store for quality wine from Italy, California, Spain, and more.

Choosing Side Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner

As a multicultural family, each family member has a favorite cultural side dish they like to enjoy for the holidays.

Since my husband is from the South, we have to have southern Thanksgiving sides like:

  • sweet potato pie
  • cornbread
  • sweet potato casserole

Being from the West, I love the flavors of fresh produce. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and heirloom tomatoes we're definitely on the menu for me.

The kids love mashed potatoes with gravy and my parents love stuffing so of course we had to include both of those dishes.

Thanksgiving menu for under $60 (serves 4-6 people):

  • Spicy Cornbread *jump to recipe*
  • Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
  • Heirloom Tomato Avocado Salad *jump to recipe*
  • From Scratch Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon *jump to recipe*
  • Wine for adults
  • Sparkling Apple Cider the kids
  • Homemade Pumpkin Pie
  • Homemade Sweet Potato Pie

Spicy Cornbread and Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

My Mexican grandmother added chiles to everything.

In a nod to her, we added chiles and chili powder to traditional cornbread muffins using the Jiffy brand mixes at 99 Cents Only. I have fond memories of both of my grandparents and my mom using Jiffy baking mixes to create muffins for all of our holiday meals.

I'm actually not a fan of stuffing, but my husband and the rest of the family love it, so he created a cornbread sausage stuffing using breakfast sausage, cornbread stuffing mix, and fresh ingredients like celery and Poblano chiles from the 99.

Spicy Cornbread Muffins Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1/2 TBSP cumin
  • 1 Poblano Chile, diced finely

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Jiffy cornbread mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Mix in the spices and chiles.
  3. Pour the prepared mix into a muffin tins, lined with paper liners.
  4. Bake according to the Jiffy package instructions.
  5. Serve warm, with pats of butter.

Heirloom Tomato Avocado Salad

I started the meal plan with the heirloom tomatoes that I found at the 99. No one in our family is really a big fan of Thanksgiving veggies so we created this tomato salad in place of the traditional green bean casserole for Thanksgiving.

Everyone in my family loved this alternative vegetable side for Thanksgiving.

Because I wanted to add a Latin flare to all of the dishes, I decided to create a Caprese inspired salad with sliced avocado instead of mozzarella. The creamy flavor of the avocado would complement the tomatoes in a similar way to mozzarella. And yup, the 99 also has balsamic vinegar and olive oil!

I happen to have a basil plant in my backyard garden so I grabbed a few leaves from that for garnish but the 99 often has fresh herbs available in their produce section.

The 99 always has fresh ripe avocados which I absolutely love. Growing up, my Grandma had a avocado tree in her backyard so we used to not know how much avocados cost. They were just a regular everyday item in our household.

When I got older I realized how expensive avocados can be! Avocados are only $0.99 a piece at the 99.

My mom told me that this salad was one of her favorite parts of the meal and she could not believe that I got these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the 99.

Heirloom Tomato Avocado Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow heirloom tomato
  • 1 large purple-red heirloom tomato
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Remove the stem and core from the tomatoes.
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes.
  3. Halve and thinly slice avocado.
  4. Layer the tomatoes and avocado onto a platter, fanning out the layers to make a pretty pattern for the salad.
  5. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

From scratch sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes

The 99 had yams and sweet potatoes we used for sweet potato casserole topped with traditional marshmallows toasted with a torch.

All of the ingredients for this traditional Thanksgiving side dish are available at the 99.

The 99 also has a great selection of baking ingredients including flour and other common ingredients for desserts. We found everything we needed to create a from scratch sweet potato pie and a from scratch pumpkin pie.

I don't have a photo of the pumpkin pie because we ate it so fast! My mom is like the Cookie Monster for pumpkin pie …

And yes, you can even get the whipped cream for the pie at the 99!

We also prepared mashed potatoes and gravy with fresh Klondike potatoes and gravy mix from the 99.

For the mashed potatoes, you'll also need whipping cream and butter, both available at the 99.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon

I love Roasted Brussels Sprouts and the 99 has the best price on fresh Brussels Sprouts I've found.

Print

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

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Delicious oven-roasted brussels sprouts finished with bacon.

  • Author: Jennifer Priest
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

1.5 lbs brussels sprouts

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1 lb bacon

1 pat of butter (1/2 tbsp)

Instructions

  1. Wash and halve about 3 bags of Brussels sprouts from the 99.
  2. Toss them in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and any spices you like (we love cayenne powder).
  3. Roast them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400°F for 15 minutes.
  4. While those are roasting, cook 1 pound of bacon.
  5. Chop the bacon and then toss with the roasted Brussels Sprouts in a frying pan with a pat of butter to mix well.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

These are delicious any time of year but they're a decadent yet fresh side dish for Thanksgiving.

A proper Thanksgiving meal isn't complete without drinks!

Thanksgiving Drink Menu

One of my favorite childhood treats was Martinelli's Apple Cider. During the holidays my grandma would bring home a couple bottles of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider for the kids to enjoy alongside the adults who were enjoying adult beverages.

When I saw these individual size Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider bottles at the 99, I knew I had to get them for our kids for Thanksgiving.

When my guests arrived for this meal and saw the fabulous selection of wine, they thought that I must have spent a lot of money. I told them that I found all of these delicious wines at the 99. The 99 Cents Only Stores, headquartered in Commerce, CA have a great selection of wine in all of their stores.

For our menu I chose:

  • Clos LaChance Estate-Grown Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Central Coast of California
  • Trinity Hill The Trinity Red Wine from Hawkes Bay New Zealand
  • ReMidas Soave 2013 wine from Italy

With the low prices the 99 has on wine, I was able to get a fabulous selection of red and white wines from all over the world at a great price.

Budget-Friendly Alternative to a Whole Turkey

Every year that we made a big full-size turkey for Thanksgiving, we ended up:

  • Cooking for DAYS because it took so long to thaw
  • Spending a TON of money
  • Buying a NEW pan because the turkey won't fit in anything you already own
  • Eating “turkey” everything (turkey tacos, turkey tamales, turkey soups, etc) for DAYS
  • Throwing out over half the turkey because we just couldn't eat it all

Throwing out leftover turkey is such a waste of time, money, and food!

Here are some ideas of what to do instead of a huge bird this Thanksgiving:

Skip the Turkey for Thanksgiving

One of my friends told me they're just making a whole roasted chicken because it:

  • Feeds 4-6 people easily
  • Fits in a regular sized pan that they already have
  • Doesn't create a ton of leftovers
  • Costs under $10 (even if it is organic!)

Another idea is to cook individual cornish game hens for each person. This cornish game hen recipe is our family's absolute favorite for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Plate of sliced turkey breast on Thanksgiving dinner table

Make Less Turkey

Choose a turkey breast or turkey leg quarter instead of the entire turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Enjoy turkey for dinner
  • Save money by not buying an entire bird
  • Minimize leftovers!

We cooked a turkey breast with this meal and with all the sides, no one left hungry at all!

Free Printable Thanksgiving Side Dishes Shopping List

CLICK HERE to download this free printable shopping list!

Creating a Pinterest-pretty Thanksgiving Tablescape on a budget

Thanksgiving was the holiday where my abuela used the fancy tablecloth and pulled out all of the fancy dinnerware. I'm talking Crystal goblets with gold accents, multiple China plates with gold accents, and definitely the best flatware with cloth napkins.

It was her time to make her home shine!

I wanted to replicate this look on a budget and also in a way that was easy to clean up. Paper plates don't look amazing but they make clean up quick.

I was able to get really beautiful paper plates, matching paper napkins, and copper colored flatware all at the 99 for, you guessed it, $0.99 each.

I spent less than $3 to get festive plates and flatware that look amazing!

I wanted a warmer look for the place settings so instead of flat chargers or place mats, I bought 6 bamboo cheese plates from the 99 for $1.99 a piece.

I arranged the two sizes of plates on top of these “chargers” and then set the flatware and napkin up in a formal fashion, adding a stemless wine glass above the plate.

Instead of place cards, I found these really adorable stuffies at the 99.

I added a little chalkboard signs underneath the stuffie's arms and used those as the place cards on each person's plate. They could then take the stuffie home and use the little chalkboard board sign to display whatever they wanted.

To give the table a beautiful Thanksgiving glow I picked up a couple of glass mosaic votive candle glasses at the 99 and placed flameless battery operated candles in side of each. I scattered these across the table along with some felt leaves that I also picked up at the 99.

Above the table, I arranged pumpkins and wreaths from the 99 to create a pretty backdrop for a pumpkin shaped chalkboard (also from the 99) for the menu.

To give the display some height, I tied the wreaths to teepee shelves I already had, using twine. This display cost about $9 to make with supplies from the 99.

I share the details of how we put together this incredible Thanksgiving tablescape for under $50 in this video.

You can get everything to make this on-trend tablescape at the 99:

  • copper colored flatware
  • stemless wine glasses
  • wooden chargers

I've seen similar items at other stores for at least four or five times the price at the 99!

How much should I budget for Thanksgiving?

In the past, I've budgeted about $20 per person for Thanksgiving dinner. Increase the cost by at least $10 per person when adding in wine or spirits.

This Thanksgiving, you can create a feeling of plenty and bounty without breaking the bank. Your first stop has to be the 99.

Get everything you need to make delicious sides, amazing drinks, and a beautiful table for less than $50 when you shop at 99 Cents Only Stores.

I used to spend hundreds on delicious, fresh holiday meals … but now that I'm shopping the 99, I can get the same quality and selection for a whole lot less.

What are you planning to serve this Thanksgiving?

Pin this:

AD: Fresh, delicious sides the entire family will love ... for under $50! This Thanksgiving make a Mexi-California inspired feast for less than $50. Thanksgiving on a budget tastes so good. #Thanksgiving #ThanksgivingDinner #SmartFunDIY #SideDish #99centsonly #doingthe99 #99yourthanksgiving

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow, I know where I’m coming for Thanksgiving this year! All of those side dishes look amazing! And what a fun idea to put a Latin spin on that Caprese salad, too. Thanks so much for sharing this inspiration…and for making me hungry! #client

  2. Wow.. I have never seen produce or wine at a dollar store. I apparently need to move to the US! Thanks for sharing!

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