Ways To Stretch Your Dollar for Thanksgiving

Ways To Stretch Your Dollar for Thanksgiving

Celebrate Thanksgiving in style on a budget with hints and recipes from Recipe4Living.

Each year Americans come together for Thanksgiving for no other reason than to see loved ones and chow down on turkey. This year it might seem as if the cost of providing that turkey with all the trimmings might just be out of your budget. But at Recipe4Living we believe that everyone deserves a Thanksgiving feast that includes all the sides. That's why we've put together a low-cost meal along with some helpful hints for keeping your Thanksgiving meal within budget.

There are dozens of great ways to cut the cost of your Thanksgiving meal including buying frozen turkey instead of fresh turkey or buying just a turkey breast if your dinner is small. Check out local specials in your area and purchase dry and canned items as they go on sale. Canned cranberry sauce is an especially good way to save as fresh cranberries cost around $2.99 for a 12-ounce bag and canned cranberries are $1.99 for 14 ounces. Instead of purchasing jars of dried herbs, buy fresh. Since you're only using a small amount it makes sense to pay for the fresh herbs that come in smaller quantities.

Another great way to cut costs is to prepare your dinner rolls and pies from scratch. Practice substitution wherever possible. Instead of an expensive item such as wine, you can use juice or water. Don’t bake a wide variety of pies, just make pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is still the Thanksgiving dessert and it’s perfectly acceptable to make it with canned pumpkin. Check into frozen vegetables or buying produce that's in-season. Brussels Sprouts are plentiful in November and can be halved to go even further. 

We've put together a sample menu for Thanksgiving dinner denoting prices wherever possible. We got our numbers from Peapod but you can probably find better deals in your area. Try checking the online site for your local store or downloading coupons from one of the many great coupon websites. And finally, why not ask someone else to bring the dessert or a side? Potlucks are a great American tradition so why not apply it to our great American holiday?

Roast Turkey with Sage and Sherried Cider Giblet Gravy
This apple and sage turkey roast with homemade gravy is the ultimate in gourmet cooking.

12 to 14 lb. turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for making stock (Butterball Turkey Hen Frozen 14-16 lb. $29.85)
1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges (.89 a piece)
7 large fresh sage sprigs ($2.49 for a 5 oz package)
2 slices firm whole-wheat sandwich bread ($1.19 per 16 oz loaf) Can be used for a sandwich the next day.
1/2 Granny Smith apple, quartered lengthwise ($.99 each)
1/2 onion, quartered lengthwise (Large Onions Spanish $.69 each)
1 stick (1/2 C.) unsalted butter, softened ($2.29 per box)
1 C. water

For gravy:
1 C. dry Sherry (you can substitute water or more apple cider)
1 C. apple cider (preferably sparkling) ($2.97 for 1/2 gallon)
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour ($2.00 for 2lb bag)
2 C. turkey giblet stock or chicken broth plus additional stock or broth for thinning gravy

Assorted fresh sage sprigs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rinse turkey and pat dry inside and out. Season turkey inside and out with salt and pepper and pack neck cavity with 1 lemon wedge, 1 sage sprig, and 1 bread slice. Fold neck skin under body and fasten with a skewer. Fill body cavity with apple, onion, 3 sage sprigs, and remaining lemon wedge and bread slice and truss turkey. Rub turkey with remaining 3 sage sprigs and arrange sprigs on a rack set in a roasting pan. Spread turkey with butter and arrange on rack in roasting pan. Roast turkey in middle of oven 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. and baste turkey with pan juices. Add water to roasting pan and roast turkey, basting every 20 minutes, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more, or until a meat thermometer inserted in fleshy part of a thigh registers 180 degrees F and juices run clear when thigh is pierced. Transfer turkey to a heated platter, reserving juices in roasting pan, and discard string. Keep turkey warm, covered loosely with foil.

Make gravy: Skim fat from pan juices, reserving 1/4 C. fat, and on top of stove deglaze pan with Sherry over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Stir in cider. Bring Sherry mixture to a boil and remove pan from heat. In a heavy saucepan whisk together reserved fat and flour and cook roux over moderately low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add Sherry mixture and 2 C. stock or broth in a stream, whisking to prevent lumping, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes.   Whisk in additional stock or broth to thin gravy if desired. Season gravy with salt and pepper and transfer to a heated gravy boat. Garnish turkey with sage.

Rice Stuffing
Years ago my mom used to stuff the turkey with this rice recipe. I like it so much I don't wait for a turkey to make it. If you want to make a meal out of this, add 4 links of sauteed sausage for heartier portions.

1 C. rice, cooked and cooled ($2.79 For 14 oz box)
2 eggs, beaten ($.99 for a dozen)
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese, divided in half ($3.49  for 8oz. can)
3 grinds black pepper
Large pinch parsley, fresh or dried ($.75 for one bunch)
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella, divided in half ($1.90 for 8 oz shredded)
1/4 C. low fat ricotta, optional ($3.49 for 15 oz.)
1 Tbs. grated cheese
Breadcrumbs ($1.69 for 15 oz)

After the rice cools (you can prepare ahead and add butter so it doesn't stick), add remaining ingredients except for breadcrumbs, and half mozzarella and Parmesan. Mix well and place in greased ovenproof baking dish (for easier cleanup). Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray with baking spray (be careful you don't get hit with flying breadcrumbs) and bake at 350 degrees on center rack for about 10 minutes or heated through and bubbly.

Caramelized Candied Sweet Potatoes
This sweet potato recipe is a favorite in our house during the holidays! You will love these - I got this recipe from my mother and have never heard of anyone else making them like this.

6-8 fresh sweet potatoes ($.89 per sweet potato for $5-7)
1/4 C. brown sugar (light or dark) ($1.00 for 14 oz)
1/4 stick butter or margarine ($2.99 per pound)
marshmallows (as many as you'd like)  ($1.29 per bag)

Precook your sweet potatoes in a large pan of water on stove, until they are softened, but still firm. Cool in cold water.  Peel and slice lengthwise. Put about 1/4 stick of butter or margarine in a large frying pan. On low, melt butter and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of brown sugar over butter. Add slices of sweet potatoes in single layer. Fry until they start to caramelize, turn over and caramelize the other side. I usually have to do this 2 or 3 times until I have all my potatoes fried.

Then place in an oven-proof bowl or Dutch Oven. Place marshmallows over top, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees until marshmallows start to brown. Serve.

Dinner Rolls
These easy rolls are the perfect accompaniment to any dinner.

1 C. butter (leftover from Caramelized Candied Sweet Potatoes)
1 C. sugar  ($1.39 for 1 pound)
1 C. sweet milk ($2.29 per 14 oz can)
1 C. warm water
2 Tbs. yeast ($1.99 for .75 oz package)
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs (bought for rice stuffing)
6 C. all-purpose flour (leftover from Roast Turkey with Sage and Sherried Cider Giblet Gravy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter, sugar and milk over low heat. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix salt, eggs and flour and add to sugar mixture. Mix together well. Put in a well-greased pan and let rise. Knead down, then form into rolls and let rise again. Brush tops with melted butter and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 dozen rolls

Buttered Brussels Sprouts with Parsley and Chives
Your family will beg for seconds of this flavorful vegetable dish.

2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved  ($2.49 per pound/$4.98 total)
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) butter (leftover from Caramelized Candied Sweet Potatoes)
Salt to taste
1 Tbs. fresh snipped chives ($2.49 for 5 oz.)
1/2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley (leftover from Turkey)

Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Drop Brussels sprouts into the water and cook until they are bright green and tender, about 8 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. When butter begins to bubble, add sprouts and season to taste with salt. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and steam sprouts in butter for 3-4 minutes. Just before serving, toss in chives and parsley. Serves 8.

Pumpkin Pie
The old favorite is still the best. Try it and you'll see.

1 16-oz. can pumpkin ($1.79 per can)
3/4 C. sugar (leftover from dinner rolls)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon*  ($2.99 for a 2.37 oz bottle)
1 tsp. ground ginger* ($4.99 for an 8 oz bottle)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg* ($6.49 for a 1.1 oz bottle)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs (leftover from Rice Stuffing)
2/3 C. evaporated milk ($.99 per 12 oz can)
½ C. milk
Prepared Pie crust ($3.40 for Pillsbury Just Unroll Pie Crusts 9 Inch - 2 ct) OR you can make your own.

For those of you that may not know, canned pumpkin is pumpkin puree, usually with some extra flavorings added. Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Add eggs and beat eggs into pumpkin mixture with a fork. Add evaporated milk and milk and mix well. Place in pie crust (cover the edge of the crust with aluminum foil to prevent burning) and bake for 25 minutes in 375 degree oven. Remove foil from crust and bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the pie.

*Save the cost of individual spices by purchasing a single bottle of Pumpkin Pie Spice that goes for around $5.79 for a 1.1 oz bottle.

Basic Pie Crust
Use this basic pie crust recipe with any of your favorite fillings – very versatile and always delicious.

2 C. all-purpose flour (leftover from dinner rolls)
1 tsp. salt
1 C. shortening (substitute leftover unsalted butter from Roast Turkey with Sage and Sherried Cider Giblet Gravy)
1/3-1/2 C. ice cold water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half, and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don't over work it. Use as directed in pie recipe.

This Thanksgiving doesn't have to taste bland just because you're on a budget. Practice substitution tips as well as frugal shopping and this just might be your most memorable Thanksgiving yet.

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