Can dining out on Thanksgiving save you money?

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Can dining out on Thanksgiving save you money?

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy a memorable meal.

For some, the annual food extravaganza may not be quite as relaxing or enjoyable, particularly for those footing the bill (or toiling away in the kitchen). It may actually be cheaper and less time-consuming to have your holiday meal at an affordable restaurant.

The other Thanksgiving option

There are plenty of Thanksgiving dining guides to help consumers save money, providing a more convenient and possibly affordable option instead of cooking at home.

Numerous restaurant chains across the country offer Thanksgiving dinner for a relative bargain compared to the cost of buying all of the supplies yourself, said Matt Arnold, editor of EatDrinkDeals. This can save consumers hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of the gathering.

“Tons of national restaurant chains have deals in the $10 to $20 per person range,” said Arnold. “For smaller groups of two to six people, you may often be better off spending $20 or so per person at a restaurant as opposed to cooking a turkey and all of the various sides and desserts at home.”

Here's how to save on Thanksgiving travel.

Avoiding upscale restaurants

If saving money is your goal, Arnold suggests avoiding the midscale to high-end restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steak House or Capital Grill, where you’ll pay up to $40 per person.

Instead he recommends chains like Bob Evans, which offers a Thanksgiving meal for $14.99 per person and $6.99 for kids. The holiday spread includes choice of entrée, three sides, endless bread and a slice of pie.

Similar options include Luby’s ($11.49 per person), Mimi’s Cafe ($19.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids) and Shari’s ($14.99 per person).

Saving time & money

Becky Beach, a money saving expert and creator of MomBeach.com, has been taking her family to Boston Market for Thanksgiving for the past several years. She began the tradition as a way to save time and money.

“It’s far cheaper to get a meal for $10 per person at Boston Market than to spend hundreds on groceries,” says Beach. “Our family of three gets an entire meal for under $50. I can understand that some families may have a tradition that involves spending lots of money and time on their Thanksgiving meal. However, I’m looking to save as much money as possible.”

This year Boston Market is offering individual meals on Thanksgiving day for $13.99 and a feast for three, which includes sliced turkey, three large sides, three dinner rolls and an entire apple or pumpkin pie, for just $39.99.

Cooking at home? Try this $4 side dish.

Another budget-friendly option: take-out

Reserving a takeout meal on Thanksgiving Day and bringing it home can provide a happy medium, said Arnold. Take-out cuts back on overall costs and eliminates the prep time. But it still allows for a cozy gathering in your own home. Several popular chains offer this option.

“It’s a good option for those who want to host but don’t want to have to deal with the fuss of cooking and cleaning,” said Arnold.

Do the math yourself, you may just end up saving some money this Thanksgiving. Looking for more ways to save? Here's how to keep your dinner under $100.

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