3 Holiday Menus Under $40

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Entertain without blowing your budget. I’ve compiled a full Thanksgiving menu, Christmas menu, and New Year’s Eve menu; each of which costs less than $40!

A platter with pork roast and vegetables.


If peeking at your savings account has you shivering as much as the chillier weather this fall, you’re not alone. Overall inflation across America has jumped around 8% year over year, and one of the biggest spikes hits close to home: Food. The average grocery bill has jumped more than 12% from October 2021 to October 2022, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index.

A slimmer budget doesn’t mean that you need to skip seasonal celebrations to save cash. Instead, I’ve designed holiday party menus that will allow you to host a full feast that delivers maximum cheer per dollar.

Using estimated costs per ingredients tabulated via Target (selected since it is a national retailer with a wide selection), I’ve crunched the numbers for how much it costs in today’s dollars to make some of my favorite holiday recipes.

The Thanksgiving Budget Menu, Christmas Budget Menu, and New Year’s Eve Budget Menus below all have four to five courses and clock in at less than $40 total. Nope, that’s not per person; these holiday party menus feed 6 to 8 adults.

Think of these budget-friendly party menus can as the foundation. Just add drinks, and a personal element or two to sneak in those family heirloom recipes, and prepare to shine as the MVP host of the year.

Thanksgiving Budget Menu

Total estimated cost: $39.71

Serves: 8 with leftovers

No Thanksgiving menu is complete without turkey as the centerpiece. The meat department is where you’ll find some of the steepest spikes in prices, so admittedly, that course is a big of a splurge. But we’re able to balance out that entree (which will leave you with plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers, by the way!) with more affordable side dishes and desserts. Green beans, biscuits, pumpkin; the seasonal crew is all here.

Entree: $22.80

A platter of roast turkey garnished with grapes.


Perfect Roast Turkey

The most Perfect Roast Turkey recipe relies on dry-brining and butter-basting for the juiciest, most delicious turkey you've ever had. Save your pan drippings too for an easy classic gravy recipe.
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Vegetable side dish: $8.03

A platter full of green beans and bacon.


Green Beans and Bacon

This simple recipe for Green Beans and Bacon is an easy, tasty side dish. Blanch fresh green beans ahead of time, then toss with cooked bacon and a touch of brown sugar. It's sweet, salty, and totally satisfying.
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Starch side dish: $1.37

A basket of homemade biscuits.


3-Ingredient Homemade Biscuits

Trusted for the last 40 years, this easy homemade biscuit recipe requires just 3 ingredients. Whip up a batch of homemade biscuits for a dinner side dish, shortcake-starter, or as the base of a breakfast entree.
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Dessert: $7.51

A slice of pumpkin pie on a gray plate.


Pumpkin Pie Recipe

The best Pumpkin Pie Recipe just so happens to be an ultra-easy dessert recipe. Start with a store-bought crust, whisk together a tasty filling, and bake. No one will guess this is a semi-homemade pumpkin pie!
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Christmas Budget Menu

Total estimated cost: $34.85

Serves: 6 with leftovers

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner menus tend to offer a bit more variety and flexibility than the classic Thanksgiving line-up, which I adore! Turkey, ham, lamb, beef, pork, and seafood star on many Christmas tables, depending on your family traditions and current home state.

For this affordable Christmas main dish, I’m highlighting a pork roast option that plays double duty since the recipe includes a side of vegetables. As that finishes cooking, kick things off with an easy appetizer idea that involves dressing up a pantry staple. To balance out all the cookies and fresh bread, which are a must on every Christmas table if you ask me, I’ve added a bonus dose of produce via one of my favorite sheet pan side dishes.

Here, is your guide for how to serve five dishes, including one of my best Midwestern Christmas “cookie” recipes, for less than $35. Yes, it is possible!

Entree and vegetable side dish: $20.41

Pork roast on a plate with vegetables.


Pork Roast

Ideal for holiday dinners or a cozy Sunday supper, this seasoned Pork Roast recipe proves that low and slow is the way to go. Learn how to cook Pork Roast that rivals any restaurant version (and, quite possibly, grandma's heirloom recipe!).
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Appetizer: $4.37

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts on a gray plate.


Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts are salty, sweet, and incredibly addictive (in the best way). Top with 2-ingredient barbecue sauce and broil for a crowd-pleasing party snack recipe in just 20 minutes.
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Vegetable side dish: $3.80

Roasted cauliflower with lemon and parmesan on a baking sheet.


Roasted Cauliflower

This easy Roasted Cauliflower recipe cooks up crispy and caramelized in 40 minutes or less. It's easy and delicious, the perfect weeknight side dish.
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Starch side dish: $.41

No knead bread on a cooling rack.


No Knead Bread

Mastering homemade yeast bread is easy with this foolproof No-Knead Bread recipe in your repertoire. You'll never want to buy bread again after tasting a slice from this chewy, delicious No-Knead Bread recipe (that bakes in just 30 minutes!).
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Dessert: $5.90 (half batch)

A pile of Ritz Cracker Cookies on a plate.


Ritz Cracker Cookies

Transform 4 ingredients into Ritz Cracker Cookies, one of the easiest no-bake desserts ever. Customize this Christmas cookie recipe with team colors or seasonal hues to make this an any-season sweet.
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New Year’s Eve Budget Menu

Total estimated cost: $33.25

Serves: 8 as heavy appetizers

A “snack dinner” like a Midwest Charcuterie Board or Ultimate Mezze Platter is my secret to feed a crowd at cocktail parties and all-evening affairs. For New Year’s Eve, I keep that same grazing philosophy so we can enjoy nibbles from dinner until after midnight, between movies, board games, and watching the ball drop.

This heavy appetizer menu features satisfying yet easy snack ideas for the meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, healthy handheld wrap sandwiches, and a good-as-gold sweet treat.

Meat appetizer: $9.37

Barbecue little smokies in a white bowl.


2-Ingredient Barbecue Little Smokies

Sharpen your toothpicks. Barbecue Little Smokies are the easiest, most festive appetizer you'll ever make. Two ingredients, zero prep, and 100% addictive, exactly the way all good party food should be.
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Vegetarian appetizer: $11.59

Spinach artichoke dip being scooped out of a cast iron pan.


Spinach Artichoke Dip

Homemade Spinach Artichoke Dip is even better than the classic restaurant appetizer. It's hot, bubbly, cheesy, just begging for some crusty bread or tortilla chips.
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Pita chips on a piece of brown parchment paper.


Homemade Pita Chips

Fluffy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, my Homemade Pita Chips are a crowd-pleasing and easy party snack idea. Discover how to make pita chips in 20 minutes using any of your favorite herbs and spices.
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Light entree: $8.97

Veggie tortilla roll ups on a blue platter.


Veggie Roll Ups

Veggie Roll Ups are a tasty riff on that Midwestern classic, veggie pizza. Make the same filling but spread on tortillas instead of crescent rolls so they're easier to tote along to parties.
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Dessert: $3.26

Caramel corn in a paper boat.


Caramel Corn

This easy homemade Caramel Corn makes an excellent food gift or favor as well as a stellar game-day or party snack.
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Millions of Americans suffer from food insecurity every day, but you can help. Here are the best food donations to buy (and the ones to avoid) plus a section on specific food donations for the holidays.

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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