If you've ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner, you know that it can be expensive. This year, hosts will spend an average of $31 per guest, according to a new report from LendingTree. But a dinner featuring staples like turkey and mashed potatoes doesn't need to be that pricey, as long as you're willing to make some things from scratch and stick to a budget: the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the average 10-person meal costs $48.90. Their menu includes turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, peas, cranberry sauce, as well as a vegetable tray as an appetizer and pumpkin pie and coffee for dessert.
I set out to determine if I could split the difference and feed eight for under $50.
That's a lot of food for not a lot of money, especially since I live in New York, where food prices are higher than the national average. Taking a cue from the Farm Bureau, I opted for a straightforward menu consisting of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and crescent rolls, as well as apple pie for dessert (sorry, not a fan of pumpkin). Oh, and coffee.
The final shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner came to 22 items. For the purposes of my test I assumed that I would already have on hand pantry staples like flour, sugar, oil, salt and pepper. I took that list to five popular grocery chains: Acme, Aldi, Trader Joe's, Walmart and Whole Foods.
Here's how much I was able to get for $50 at each store.