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Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thanksgiving on a Budget

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Go easy on your wallet this holiday with these budget-friendly tips

Host a budget-friendly Thanksgiving this year.

Let’s be honest, Thanksgiving is expensive. From the turkey to its trimmings and everything in between, celebrating our nation’s most cherished holiday can be taxing on our bank accounts.

While you want nothing more than to make Thanksgiving special for your family and loved ones, sometimes there’s a fine line between cutting costs and hosting the perfect holiday dinner. We feel your pain, so we’re here to help you determine where that line is and help you host Thanksgiving on a mindful and easy budget. Keeping your costs down doesn’t have to mean settling for inferior products or limited quantities, though, and we spoke to contributing writer David Bakke at Money Crashers Personal Finance about easy and creative tips that will help you be frugal this Thanksgiving. Bakke and the team at Money Crashers are constantly thinking of ways to save when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, and they shared some of their ideas with us.

Click here to see How to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget (Slideshow)

These tips are simple, and they’re all about planning and cooking smart. For example, while it might save you money to make most things from scratch, you’ll also cut some dollars by knowing when to buy canned or frozen foods, too, so be smart when you’re shopping and pay attention to price tags. Hosting Thanksgiving on a budget is also about knowing how to take charge, like deciding what your guests will drink rather than wasting money on alcohol that no one wants, and asking family to pitch in and bring over a side dish or two.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to deplete your bank account, and you’ll see that with smart planning and a head start, you’ll be thankful for Thanksgiving this time around.

For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving!

**This article was origianlly published on August 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget 101

The holiday season is all about excess. But in this financial climate, simple meals and décor can seem tastefully elegant instead of Dickensian. This year, it's de rigueur to forgo the fancy spread and get back to basics. Here's how:

Plan Ahead -- Open your day planner and circle Nov. 1 with a red pen. This is when you should start planning your menu. The turkey will account for nearly 40 percent of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner [source: All Recipes]. Buy it early, and get a frozen bird -- it'll store easier, defrost better and roast up juicier. A week before Thanksgiving, commit an afternoon to prep work. Tear up bread for stuffing, mix dough for pie crusts and dinner rolls, and simmer chicken to make stock. Plan your shopping excursion on double-coupon day, and take careful inventory of your pantry so you don't buy unnecessary items.

Stick to the Classics -- Thanksgiving is no time to experiment with unusual dishes or recipes that exceed your skill level. You've got a hungry crowd waiting, and they'll expect traditional dishes. When that clove-studded, orange-infused turkey falls flat, you'll have to tack on another $20 to your budget to cover Chinese takeout for your hungry guests. You really can't go wrong with a classic menu of roast turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie [source: Martha Stewart]. As a rule of thumb, choose recipes with the fewest ingredients and steps to save money and time.

Deviate from the Classics -- An untraditional Thanksgiving dinner can make a chic culinary statement and cost less than the storybook spread. Instead of roasting a turkey, grill turkey burgers. Knead fresh tarragon into the patties, and finish them off with a Gwyneth Paltrow-approved condiment: cranberry ketchup, a combination of cranberry chutney and tomato ketchup [source: Huffington Post]. Instead of Champagne, serve cranberry-sparkling water spritzers, or make a root beer float with pumpkin-flavored ice cream.

Add More Décor -- Nothing sets the occasion quite like an enchanting dinner table. You don't have to spend a fortune at the florist to create an autumnal wonderland rather, collect natural elements from your backyard for free, fresh décor. For the centerpiece, fill a vase halfway with acorns, then arrange willow branches, sturdy sticks and gold and red leaves to cascade over the top. Make place cards with tiny squares of ivory card stock secured to pinecones. Light a few taper candles, and the dining room will be aglow with the magic of the holidays.

Tell Guests It's BYOS (Bring Your Own Side) -- As long as you let guests know well in advance, they won't mind bringing something to dinner. You can focus on the bird and assign the starches, vegetables, cranberries and dessert to friends and family. This way, you can put a little extra toward your wine budget.

Be a Discerning Host -- If money is tight, you don't have to be the hostess with the mostest -- it's better to be a discerning host. Make thoughtful, smart choices about your dinner spread while keeping your guests' tastes and your financial means in mind. For instance, if your crowd prefers white meat, purchase a smaller, less expensive turkey breast. Perhaps a full dinner isn't an option this year. You could always host a morning brunch. A few pastries, quiches and mimosas will hold over your friends and family until they're off to their dinner celebrations. Or, throw an after-dinner soiree: Put on a pot of coffee, mix up a signature cocktail and arrange petit fours, fresh fruit and cheese on a tray. You'll close out turkey day with style and panache!

How To Cook A Thanksgiving Spread For 4 On A $25 Budget

June, Delish's senior food producer and resident budget eats expert, set out to create a traditional Thanksgiving meal on the cheap: $25 for a 4-person dinner. Watch to see how she fared&mdashand catch the rest of her series Budget Eats on YouTube!

Thanksgiving is just around the bend, but holidays will probably look very different for many of us this year. With limited travel, self-imposed quarantines, and safety measures in place, families and friends will probably be joining each other virtually, sharing their food spreads visually rather than bumping elbows at the communal table. As sad as that might sound, 2020 is a year which has taught us that traditions can always evolve to suit our needs and unexpected circumstances. With that in mind, Julia and I decided to apply our $25 budget eats framework to the food-centric Thanksgiving meal.

Queen Julia's parameters for our $25 day of thanks were as follows:

  1. A one-time meal for four people for Thanksgiving
  2. Must include turkey, 2 sides, and a dessert

What can $25 buy? A lot, it turns out&mdashif you shop around, you can maybe get as lucky as I got and round up enough food to feed six-to-eight people, especially if you skip on buying an entire turkey. (If you're not on a tight budget, check out Julia's taste test of Thanksgiving meal delivery services.)

Because I only live with my partner Aaron and our apartment isn't quite big enough to responsibly host two more friends for a socially-distanced meal, we had quite a feast.

While meat doesn't always make it into our budget meals, turkey day just doesn't seem right without its eponymous item: I could not skip out on turkey altogether. After a brisk half-hour stroll around my neighborhood, I chanced upon some ginormous turkey drumsticks that rang in at $1.19/lb for just $4.53, these two drumsticks ended up being the stars of two delicious meat mains.

There were a few other ingredients that seemed essential to maintain that Thanksgiving vibe: cranberries (for sauce), potatoes (for mash), rosemary (for flavor), celery and onion (for stuffing), pumpkin (for pie), and butter (for all that is good in life). With my remaining funds I scored a few additional deals, including a bag of dried red chilis (for Aaron!), Brussels (for health!), butternut squash (it was only $1!), mushrooms (for gravy), and a pint of half & half (for creaminess).

The process

Cooking everything took two long days&mdashand of course, eating it took just 20 minutes. On day 1, I roasted veggies, made a stock with turkey bones and vegetable scraps, baked some potatoes, steamed the kabocha squash, and made my cranberry sauce. As the sunlight disappeared into the evening and the walls of my apartment began to sweat more than I did, I decided I would not be making a traditional pumpkin pie after all.

I rose earlier on day two and got up while it was still dark to really kick things into high gear. I made the dough from Lauren's ridiculously beautiful apple tart recipe, and paired it with a kabocha squash filling, crossed my fingers and wished for the best. And what do you know, it was the first time I can recall anything in 2020 turning out so smoothly!

The rest was honestly a whirlwind and a blur. I made so many sides: lemony roasted Brussels sprouts, creamy twice-baked mashed potatoes, a savory butternut squash pie with a curried potato crust, and some no-bread potato stuffing with tiny roasted potato cubes that were first boiled then roasted to golden, crunchy perfection.

This was perhaps the most classic Thanksgiving I've ever experienced. I cut my finger, I yelled, I cried, and then I smiled and ate with relief and happiness. Having grown up in a Chinese immigrant household, I've never cooked a spread like this before, but according to Aaron, I did good: 10/10 good, in fact. Not bad for a first-timer!

Thanksgiving on a budget: Money-saving recipes

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, which means it&rsquos time to enjoy the three F&rsquos: Football, family and food! If you are in charge of preparing some good eats this year, but are working with a smaller budget than you&rsquod like, you are not alone.

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, which means it&rsquos time to enjoy the three F&rsquos: Football, family and food! If you are in charge of preparing some good eats this year, but are working with a smaller budget than you&rsquod like, you are not alone. The good news is you can still have a great Thanksgiving on a budget. So before finishing your food list, take a look at some dishes (as well as shopping and preparation ideas) that can help you save money on dinner.

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Succulent Turkey

You&rsquore going to have to spend a bit for a Thanksgiving turkey, unless you find a store offering a great deal (some grocery stores offer turkeys for less than $.70 per pound if you spend $50 to $100 on other items). However, once you&rsquove purchased your turkey, your savings account doesn&rsquot have to suffer when preparing it:

  • Make your own stock: If you use stock to create a succulent turkey, try making your own as an alternative to store-bought stock and save $3 or more per 32 oz. container.
  • Visit a farmer&rsquos market for spices and seasonings: Instead of paying for expensive store-bought spices, visit a local farmer&rsquos market to purchase fresher spices in larger quantities at cheaper prices.
  • Buy non-perishable ingredients early: If you&rsquore adding brown sugar, vegetable oil or long-lasting ingredients like butter, catch them on sale early to make turkey baking cheaper.
  • Purchase items in bulk: By visiting wholesale stores like Sam&rsquos Club or Costco, you can purchase items that will be needed in your turkey, as well as other recipes, at a lower cost.

There are endless ways to cook a roast turkey, but you can bet it&rsquoll taste even better when you haven&rsquot paid an arm and a leg for it.

Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Dishes: Savory Sides

No Thanksgiving plate is truly full without tasty side dishes to go with the turkey. So here are some great recipes for a discount Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Stuffing: Stuffing is traditionally an inexpensive side. Whether you&rsquore making traditional bread stuffing or a cornbread stuffing, you can get away with spending as little as $5, especially if you&rsquove purchased onions, celery, butter and other ingredients in bulk.
  • Potatoes: A great side dish that costs very little is mashed potatoes. Purchase bulk bags of potatoes at a farmer&rsquos market, boil and mash them up, add a bit of salt for taste and top with delicious turkey gravy for a fantastic and inexpensive side.
  • Rolls: Pre-made rolls can add up pretty quickly when purchased from a grocery store. So why not try to make your own with a simple dinner rolls recipe that requires basic ingredients and calls for no kneading?
  • Veggies: It&rsquos fairly easy to find bulk carrots (10-12) for as little as $1. Add some orange juice, brown sugar and butter in this glazed carrots recipe and you&rsquore sure to enjoy a great veggie at a low price. Also, if greens are your thing, this traditional comfort vegetable can be purchased for as little as .50 per pound at a farmer&rsquos market. Greens can be challenging to make because they are traditionally bitter in taste, but with the right recipe, you can have a dish your family will love.

For additional low-cost side dishes, consider red cabbage, roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce.

Don&rsquot Forget the Best Part: Low Cost Desserts and Drinks

To complete your Thanksgiving meal, don&rsquot forget dessert! Here are some ideas your family and wallet are sure to enjoy:

  • Cakes: There are a number of cake recipes that families cherish. Carrot cake is a staple in many homes because it is so moist and sweet, and it doesn&rsquot have to be expensive, either. A gooey butter coffee cake is inexpensive and delicious as well. But if you&rsquore not locked into baking from scratch, why not buy a couple of pre-made cake mixes for $1? They cut out a lot of ingredients and still taste great.
  • Pies: If you&rsquore a pumpkin pie lover, making this treat can be pretty inexpensive. Canned pumpkin is a cheap item, so making your own pumpkin pie with generic ingredients can be a great deal. If pumpkin isn&rsquot really your thing, there&rsquos also a low-cost sweet potato pie recipe you might enjoy. Or you can try an easy cobbler recipe that only requires a few ingredients and the canned fruit of your choice.
  • Cookies and more: Some people like to veer from the traditional chocolate chip cookie dessert. If this is you, try tasty and cheap peanut butter cookies. A couple of other treats that require only a few ingredients are lemon bars and rice pudding. And as with cakes, if you&rsquore not against mixes, consider buying your cookies, brownies and other treats as mixes to save a few bucks.
  • Drinks: Whether you&rsquore into eggnog or fruit punches, there are some great drinks out there. However, before going out and buying expensive gallons, consider making your own at a lower cost.

There&rsquos no doubt that making Thanksgiving dishes for the family can be financially straining, even when you cut the greatest of corners. But if you create a budget for your meal ahead of time, check your weekly circulars to find which retailers are offering the best deals, don&rsquot be afraid to clip coupons and take advantage of store discount days, you could make paying for this holiday a lot easier.

Thanksgiving on a Budget

For more information and recipes from Stratford University and Chef James Sinopoli, click here.

How to Brine a Turkey

If you want a moist, flavorful turkey, brining a turkey is a great way to accomplish this. This turkey brine recipe is so easy and using the refrigerator bin or an ice chest with a Turkey roasting bag to hold the turkey in the brine, while keeping the turkey cold in the ice chest with ice is a great way to prepare the turkey before thanksgiving.

• 12 cups of water, divided
• 1 cup of kosher salt
• 2 cups of white or brown sugar
• 1 cup apple of cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons of sage
• 2 tablespoons of thyme
• 2 tablespoons rosemary
• 1 tablespoon of pepper
• 6 cups of ice


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1. Bring 4 cups of water to a simmering boil. Add salt and sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat. Stir in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper and ice. The brine is ready to be used.
2. Remove giblets and neck from the cavity. Rinse the outside and inside of a thawed turkey. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry. Completely submerge the turkey in a large soup pot bigger than the bird and cover with a lid. Allow the turkey to marinate for 12 hours for a small turkey (8-10 lbs) and up to a full day for a bigger bird. Rinse turkey and pat dry before adding additional seasoning, butter, or oil in preparation for roasting.

*It is important not to use a self basting, pre-seasoned, or kosher turkey, otherwise the turkey will be too salty.

Chestnut Soup

• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• ½ cup finely chopped celery
• ½ cup finely chopped carrot
• ½ cup finely chopped onion
• 1 garlic clove minced
• 3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 whole cloves
• 6 cups of chicken broth
• 1 (14-15 ounce) jar of peeled cooked whole chestnuts, crumbled (3cups)
• ¼ cup of Madeira wine
• ¼ cup of heavy cream
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Melt butter in a 3 quart heavy saucepan over low heat, and then stir in celery, carrot, garlic, and onion. Then cover the pan to soften the vegetables. This can take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes.
2. Wrap parsley, cloves, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bouquet garni.
3. Add broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25 minutes. Add chestnuts and Madeira and simmer, covered for 3 minutes.
4. Puree soup using an immersion blender, or in small batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to 4-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in cream, pepper, and salt to taste.

Mushroom Sage Stuffing

• 1 (10-ounce) package white slice button mushrooms
• 3 tablespoons canola oil or butter
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans of chicken broth
• 1 loaf day old French bread, diced into ½ inch cubes
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat to oven to 350°. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the canola oil. Stir in the onions and celery and cook until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and herbs and continue to cook until the mushrooms are browned and the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk together the eggs and chicken broth in a large bowl. Add the cubed bread and toss to coat all of the bread. Stir in the cooked onions and mushroom mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to the baking dish and bake, covered loosely with foil, for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking time to brown to top.

Cream Puff Pastry (Choux Paste)
Pastry used for Potato Puffs and Pumpkin Mousse

• 1 cup of water
• 4 ounce butter (1 stick) cut in 1 tablespoon segments
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
• 6 eggs

1. Combine the water, salt and butter in a sauce pan and bring it to a rolling boil (be sure the better is cut up so it melts quickly before that water boils).
2. Add flour all at once and stir constantly until it makes dough that comes away from the sides of the pot, remove it from the heat.
3. Stir it slightly to remove some of the heat, beat the eggs in one at a time, beating vigorously between additions.
4. Use immediately by piping out or scooping out golf ball size portions of the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet
5. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes until the puffs have risen, then reduce the temperature to 350° and allow the puffs to finish baking to a golden brown and the puffs are dry throughout.

Potato Puffs (with Choux Paste)

• Approximately1 cup of Choux Paste
• Approximately1 cup mashed potatoes
• ½ cup of shredded cheese
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I like parsley and chives)
• Pinch of nutmeg
• Oil for deep fat frying set at 350°
• Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Combine the Choux Paste and mashed potatoes
2. Add the shredded cheese and herbs alone with salt and pepper to taste
3. Place the mixture into a piping bag, or a zip lock bag with the corner cut open to squeeze out lengths into hot fat. Remove the browned and fried puffs to absorbent toweling.
4. The puffs are best served right after they are prepared, however, you can store them in a single layer with parchment or wax paper separating the layers in the freezer. Refresh the puffs by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet with foil sprayed with non-stick spray and bake the frozen puffs in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or when they are adequately hot throughout.

Maple-Glazed Baby Carrots

• 3 lbs of baby carrots
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 6 tablespoons of butter
• 6 tablespoons of maple syrup

1. Place carrots in a large saucepan. Add water to barely cover add salt. Bring to a boil cook about 7 minutes or until carrots are crisp and tender, drain the carrots well.
2. In a sauté pan on medium heat, melt the butter. Add the carrots and the maple syrup. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes to coat and glaze the carrots. You can garnish with chopped parsley, chopped orange zest, or even candied chopped walnuts.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

• 1 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries
• 1 orange

1. Put washed, drained cranberries in a food processor with 1 orange quartered, seeded, and roughly chopped.
2. Pulse the contents of the food processor for a few seconds, just until coarsely chopped. Stop and scrape down sides of the bowl, if necessary to chop evenly.
3. Add ¾ to 1 cup of sugar and taste adjusting sweetness as desired.
4. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Cranberry Orange Relish may be frozen for up to 2 months.

Easy Pumpkin Mousse Filling (with Choux Paste)

• 6 eggs separated
• 1 cup sugar divided
• 15 ounce can of pumpkin
• 4 ounces of cream cheese
• 1 cup of heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons of dark rum
• ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
• Pinch of nutmeg
• Pinch of cardamom
• Pinch of salt

1. Over a double boiler, whisk the egg yolks, ½ the sugar and the rum until hot and thick
2. In a mixer, cream the cream cheese and pumpkin filling together until smooth, blend in the egg yolk mixture and add the spices to the mixture. Remove to a clean large bowl and let cool.
3. Whip the egg whites until frothy and then gradually add the remaining sugar whipping to a firm peak.
4. Fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture in 3 additions.
5. Whip the cream to a medium-firm peak (careful not to over-whip the cream or it will turn to butter) and fold the cream into the pumpkin mixture.

Doing Thanksgiving on a Budget? Try Brunch

It may feel like we&rsquore living in a suspended reality right now, but before we know it Thanksgiving will be here and we&rsquoll be gathering around the table for the most traditional of American meals. While we all love the Thanksgiving warm-and-fuzzies, and the autumnal eats, the price tag of a Thanksgiving meal can easily get a bit overwhelming. Last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation announced the average price of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 had reached an all-time high at $50.11. With that in mind, we&rsquove done a bit of soul searching re: how to keep the feast costs down and the Thanksgiving cooking delicious. Unsurprisingly, the highest priced ticket item on the Thanksgiving shopping list is the turkey. In 2015, a 16-pound turkey averaged out at roughly $23.04 &mdash when you&rsquore trying to truly do the meal on the cheap, that amount can be out of reach. One big way to save some pennies and still eat well is to trade in your Thanksgiving dinner for a Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch. A Thanksgiving breakfast can involve basic and affordable foods that are not as specialty or expensive as the traditional Thanksgiving stuffing and cranberry sauce fare. Think eggs and a big stack of pancakes or substitute a whole bird for turkey sausage or turkey bacon, and serve up some seasonal vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or Brussel sprouts on the side. Mary Ostyn, author of the cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week, also suggested the frugal idea of a baked potato bar. &ldquoBake a bunch of potatoes and serve with: cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon, green onions, peppers, olives and other yummy toppings. Besides being affordable, this meal has the advantage of being completely customizable by each guest.&rdquo Ostyn&rsquos other big suggestion for a holiday breakfast is a stuffed and festive French toast platter. We also spoke with chef Leanne Brown, a food studies scholar who wrote the cookbook Good and Cheap specifically for people on a $4/day food stamp budget, for a few of her cost cutting recommendations for the holiday meal. She agreed that a Thanksgiving breakfast was a good idea for sticking to a tight change purse. She also supplied a few hacks, including her mom&rsquos cost-cutting stuffing secret. &ldquoMy mum makes it be saving the bits of bread from various loaves for a few months in advance and freezing it all. So by the time Thanksgiving comes around you have a variety of breads and you just have to toast and add spices, vegetables and/or the meat of your choice.&rdquoFor dessert, she suggested foregoing pies to save on the high price of butter. &ldquoConsider making a sweet potato or pumpkin pudding to keep the flavor but cut some of the costs,&rdquo she said. She also offered what we consider to be a delicious sounding center-piece recipe for our pending Thanksgiving breakfast: Brussel sprout hash and eggs. Serve it up with a side of turkey bacon and a pumpkin pudding, maybe a baked potato bar? We&rsquore hungry! And our wallets are happy. Leanne Brown's Brussels Sprout Hash and EggsIngredients


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barett

Two 16-ounce loaves challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes**

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

2 small onions, diced (cut into &frac13-inch pieces about 2 cups)

4 stalks celery, diced (cut into &frac13-inch pieces about 2 cups)

2 large carrots, diced (cut into &frac13-inch pieces about 1&frac23 cups)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1½ cup turkey stock (see recipe below — or you can substitute low-sodium turkey or chicken broth)

**Reserve 3 to 4 bread cubes for the Pumpkin Pie with Brown Butter Streusel

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer on rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand until crisp and dry.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the liquid released from the mushrooms has cooked off, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until the liquid is evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, add the bread cubes, mushroom mixture and thyme. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, turkey stock, milk, melted butter, mustard, 1 tsp salt, and generous grindings of pepper. Pour over the bread cube mixture and toss to thoroughly combine. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake until crisp and golden on top, 45 minutes to an hour.

$40 (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner in Under an Hour

So you want to have a super-easy, vegan, and low-budget Thanksgiving dinner. The first things that you’ll need to pop into the oven are your vegan roast and pie, which usually take about an hour, depending on package instructions. While those are baking, you can prep your other foods.

Check out these inexpensive options:

5-lb. Bag of Potatoes ($2.97) + Salt + Vegan Butter ($3.99) = Mashed Potatoes

Cut up the potatoes, boil them until soft (about 20 minutes), and mash with some salt, pepper, and vegan butter. You can also add garlic and other spices if you have them on hand.

Vegan Gravy ($1.20)

Top your mashed potatoes with a can of your favorite mushroom gravy.

Daiya Macaroni and Cheese ($5.25)

The package instructions are super-simple. Boil the macaroni, drain it, and mix in the vegan cheese sauce.

Stuffing Mix ($1) + Vegan Butter + Water or Vegetable Broth ($1)

The stuffing box says, “for pork,” but don’t let that fool you. There are no animal parts in the ingredients. Simply bring water or veggie broth to a boil with some vegan butter, then add your stuffing mix and fluff with a fork.

Organic Whole Cranberry Sauce ($3.99)

All you need to do is open the can and pour the contents into a serving dish.

Vegan Turkey Roast ($10.99)

There are many roasts to choose from, and this one’s perfect for those of us on a budget.

© Gardein

Vegan Pie ($10)

Try an “accidentally vegan” fruit pie in the freezer aisle of your local grocery store. Claim Jumper and Marie Callender’s have quite a few options. You can also find vegan pumpkin pie at specialty stores such as Whole Foods for around $10.

This entire meal costs about $40. See how easy and inexpensive it is to enjoy a vegan holiday?

Thanksgiving on a budget

You’ve seen the picture. Mama hands papa a big, golden brown bird while a family sits around a table filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls and all the other trimmings.

The problem is you’re on a budget. After you buy the Thanksgiving bottle of wine you’re going to need to put up with your in-laws, you just don’t have the budget for a big meal. No big deal! Here’s a menu you can put together for the price of a turkey and a dollar or two per person. You’ll have all the flavor you’d want for a Turkey Day meal without the cost.

Picture the iconic Thanksgiving feast: a table full of dishes ranging from perfect roast turkey to cranberry sauce to mashed potatoes to so many different types of pies. Now, imagine how many gajillion dollars you’d have to spend putting that meal together. However, fear not, an inexpensive Thanksgiving dinner can be yours for about a little more than $30, not including the price of the turkey and a few items you should have around the house (salt, pepper, sugar, flour), without sacrificing quality or variety.

Thanksgiving turkey (Approximately $15 to $20 for a 13-pound bird)

This is the one item that is going to cost, no matter what. However, because price is an issue, you don’t need a huge bird. In fact, smaller birds cook more evenly and tend to stay moister. Still, whatever you do, make sure your turkey comes with giblets and the neck. That will be important.

Mashed potatoes and gravy (total: $6.50)

Get a five-pound bag of potatoes, which will run you about $5. In addition, buy two cans of chicken broth, which will cost about $1.50. You’ll also need a little cream from the peas and a pat of butter from the pie, but we won’t add their cost here! To make the mashed potatoes, just boil them and mash them with salt, a little cream and three tablespoons of butter.

However, then we have to think about gravy. To make the gravy, toss the giblets and neck in about three tablespoons of flour, then brown them in three tablespoons of butter. Pour in the broth and let it get thick.

Corn mache choux (total: $8.50)

This dish will give your guests a little wow that they weren’t expecting from a budget meal. Buy a bag of frozen corn (about $2), a few stalks of celery for about $1 and some bacon, which you can hopefully find for about $5.

Budget corn mache choux


  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • Splash of cream (borrowed from the peas)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, slowly cook the fat out of the bacon.
  2. Remove the bacon and finely chop, reserve for later.
  3. Cook the celery in the bacon grease for eight minutes, then add the corn and two tablespoons of water. Cook until the corn is soft (about four minutes).
  4. Add the chopped bacon back to the skillet and cook until the water is mostly evaporated. Add the cream and black pepper and serve.

Creamed peas (total: $6)

Creamed peas are easy. Get some frozen peas for about $2 and a small container of cream for about $4. To make this dish, boil the peas in salted water until they are ready and add the cream.

Apple pie (total: $9.50)

What would Thanksgiving dinner be without dessert? To keep this year’s feast affordable, but delicious, we’re going to make our own apple pie. All you really need are apples (about $3), butter (about $5) and cinnamon (which hopefully you can find for about $1).

Budget-friendly apple pie


  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Ice cold water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the butter from the refrigerator and immediately cut it into eight pieces.
  3. Put the pieces in a bowl with the flour, sugar and salt and begin working the ingredients together.
  4. To do this, pinch the butter so that little pieces are pulled off and coated in flour. Do this until you have something that looks like little pebbles.
  5. Once finished, add the ice cold water a tablespoon at a time until you have something that looks like pie dough.
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for an hour to set.
  7. After an hour, remove the crust, dust your counter with a little flour and quickly roll the pie crust out and place into a greased pie plate (use the butter wrapper from the filling to grease the pie plate).
  8. Bake the crust for ten minutes empty (called blind baking).
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Let the butter come to room temperature.
  3. Remove it from the wrapper and cut into eight pieces, then melt those eight pieces over medium heat.
  4. Once melted, add the apples and cook until they are soft, about ten minutes.
  5. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to coat.
  6. Pour the filling into the crust and bake the pie for ten minutes or until the filling becomes set.

Total: $30.50

(Yes, it’s a little over, but you’re not going to use all the bacon or butter, so you’re ahead on groceries!) With the price of the turkey, you’ve got an entire party for less than $50.

What Does Thanksgiving Mean To You?

Giving thanks for everything we have and the opportunities and the ability to give back makes us whole.

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for not only your family but for the community you live in and how you give back.

Last week we did a one-hour garbage pickup around our son’s school and put it in a shopping back to put in the trash.

It’s the little things that matter but make a big difference.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Discussion: What types of dishes will you have on your Thanksgiving menu? (they don’t have to be keto)

Drop me your comments below as I’d love to read about your meal ideas.