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Help me do Thanksgiving on the cheap!

I've got about 8 adults and 4 children at my house for Thanksgiving. There may possibly be 1 or 2 more adults. I can have my one daughter bring something but other than her, no one else is able to bring anything.

What should I start buying now so I can spread the cost out over a few weeks?

Any menu plans and/or recipes you could share with me? One person is a vegetarian.

ANY ideas you have would be great!


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  1. The best advice I can give you is to watch your circulars and DO NOT try to spread out the cost. Every store near me offers a free turkey with a $100 purchase around Thanksgiving - you will save yourself the cost of the turkey if you do all your shopping at once. My stores also usually put T-day related items (cranberries, sweet potatoes, etc.) on sale in the week prior to the holiday. As for the actual menu, there isn't anything on a traditional T-day menu that is terribly expensive - how "foodie" do you want to be?

    9 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      Wow! Around here you only have to spend $25 in one trip to get a turkey for $8-9 or under (depending on what size you get.) I think you can get a free one some places if you spend $50.

      I agree about all at one time, though- everything is on sale the week before Thanksgiving.

      Instead of spreading out the cost, just set some money aside each week and spend it when you can save the most.

      1. re: biondanonima

        If you can get a free turkey, then I would definitely go for it. None of the stores around here offer that - just a highly discounted price with a $25 purchase.

        If you have one near you, I would recommend checking out Aldi for the staples. I got a lot of my basics there for last thanksgiving (potatoes, celery, onions, cranberries, etc.) and they were just as nice as the regular stores and about half the price.

        1. re: jw615

          This week Aldi has on the vine tomatoes at $.99 for 24 oz. Last week yellow onions were $.59 for a 3 lb. bag, the big stores they are $1.49 lb. Butter is currentlly $1.99 lb. These prices are from 25 yrs. ago. Also $.35 avocados, thats practically Mexico price.

          1. re: robt5265

            Aldi's is not what it was 30 years ago. I have to keep reminding myself a lot happened between 1976 and 2006.

        2. re: biondanonima

          The two main stores near me are Giant Eagle and Acme. I don't think they ever have free turkeys with purchase. I'll keep an eye out, though.

          1. re: anniam

            I thought most of the Giant brands did the free store brand bird with 300 grocery points. I think this is true of the Giant Landover, Giant Carlisle, and Stop and Shop brands and perhaps Peapod as well.

            1. re: melpy

              Giant Eagle is different from Giant. Giant Eagle is based in Pittsburgh and extends into Ohio and WV.

              1. re: dmjordan

                If looking at Giant Eagle, I purchase my turkey now! Even at $0.78/# instead of $0.59 it *may* go like last year.

                The reason why is so I can find reasonable size turkeys now as in 14# and under. A week before, you are forced to buy 20#+ in size turkeys.

        3. If you're happy buying a frozen turkey, you can do dinner very affordably! Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, cranberry sauce. You don't NEED ten side dishes, you know? For the vegetarian, I'd do some rice pilaf stuffed acorn squash, which could be a side dish for other people as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: katecm

            Make a copy of a substantial vegetarian side (that rice pilaf stuffed acorn squash sounds wonderful!) that will go with the rest of the meal and ask the vegetarians to make it and bring it along to share with everyone. When a couple of my friends were vegans they always brought their own food - they just wanted to join in with everyone else at the table. It was a little bit of a pain since they also then monopolized the microwave, but a relatively small sacrifice for us to have them with us for Thanksgiving. Now, thank god, they've gone vegetarian and include poultry and fish, as well as dairy, in their brand of vegetarianism. They can eat everything now!!!

          2. Buy stale bread now cheap and cut into sort-of cubes and dry in the oven, then load into plastic bags to wait. Get shabby/bruised vegetables (celery/carrots/'shrooms/onions), cut the ones that look ok at least in spots into thin slices and freeze. Cook the bad-but-not rotten or moldy bits slowly in broth after caramelizing with butter/olive oil. Pour the broth into trays and freeze to make out-of-the bird veggie dressing with salt and pepper and thyme and maybe parsley. Rest of homemade stuffing into bird.

            Make your own crusts for pies, your own filling (I make sweet potato pie rather than pumpkin as it's richer tasting and more filling so people eat less.)


            People just like traditional foods for Thanksgiving. Salad, green bean casserole (I hate but if it isn't on the table there's a chorus of why nots! And that's from Bay Area foodies!), brussels sprouts caramelized in the oven, mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce.

            Apps: slightly stale french bread cut into slices and made into bruschetta or goat cheese and homemade caponata (buy iffy tomatoes, eggplant, cook down with onions, etc.)

            Sorry it's not more creative but...

            3 Replies
            1. re: rccola

              Great ideas, especially making broth from discounted veggies. I think appetizers can safely be omitted. If people will have to wait around for the meal, a crudite tray with some ranch dip, and perhaps a bowl of spiced nuts or party mix are all that's needed. Folks don't want to fill up on apps so don't offer something for which you can't use the leftovers. You can make smaller amounts of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes than you ordinarily might, because with the choice of those two starches plus stuffing, people won't each have a full-sized portion of each.
              You can never have too much stuffing, but go easy on the spuds unless you have a lot of fridge space for leftovers. America's Test Kitchen had the good idea of buying extra wings and roasting them atop the auxiliary dressing in the casserole dish, so it gets flavored like the in-cavity stuffing.

              1. re: greygarious

                The out-of-bird experience was for the vegetarian--hence the veggie stock with caramelized onions.

                I make sweet potato pie for dessert--more filling than pumpkin! Just mashed with the meal as gravy (turkey or vegetarian) goes better with them than with sweets.

                The idea of the extra wings is great but not for vegetarians. =(

                I like apps to keep people noshing in the living room instead of bothering me in the kitchen.

                1. re: rccola

                  rccola - I love sweet potato pie! Good idea!

            2. For the vegetarian. You can make the stuffing with veggie stock instead of chicken stock. And if you stuff it into the turkey save some and put it in a small casserole dish and bake separately. I don't eat meat but I'm usually happy with the side dishes which was always my favorite part. Best to ask the vegetarian if they need anything special or they may even be happy to bring a dish that they can eat.

              1. If you have a Costco nearby, I would suggest one of their pumpkin pies--maybe your daughter could bring that along with some whipped cream. As for the rest, stick with the basics and do some checking around on prices. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, squash and frozen peas would be fine with me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: escondido123

                  Agree, that's all most of us really care about. Oh and cranberry sauce.

                2. Yeah, I think the main thing is to not overdo it, like I usually do. I start letting people say "oh, make sure you make such-n-such" and I end up cooking for two days and have way too much food.

                  I need to keep it basic and not foodie. The only thing I hate compromising on is a turkey. I usually try to get a fresh free range turkey, but I can't afford one this year. Any brands of regular turkeys that are better than others?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: anniam

                    Get a Butterball or other "self-basting" brand. That designation means it's been injected with salt solution, which is pretty much the same as brining, adding flavor to the bird and keeping it tender.
                    Kosher turkeys are also pre-salted but cost more than "self-basting" ones.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      IIRC the Kashrut salt process (obviously I'm not of that heritage) is to draw the blood out for specific meaningful reasons. which works great on poultry. but costs more as there's more work involved in the raising and the Rabbinical oversight and the handling.

                      and tastes quite good.

                      I suppose the chemical reaction of a brined bird is essentially the same as a K one in regards to flavor.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        grey - thanks, that's good to know.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I love Butterball turkeys! More expensive ones taste gamey to me. I buy 14 lb or less .. that way you're getting a female. I've found the bigger ones to be stringy. At T day time, Safeways near me carry both fresh and frozen ones. The frozen need to be thawed in fridge for 4 days.

                          1. re: walker

                            I just bought two Butterballs, a 12-lb and a 13 lb for $19.75!

                            1. re: anniam

                              Where? Did you get BOTH for that price? If so, that's really great.

                            2. re: walker

                              Ooops, they were Honeysuckle, not Butterball. Oh well.

                              1. re: anniam

                                Honeysuckle is still pretty decent. Better than many store brands, so be proud!

                                1. re: happybaker

                                  Never too early to think about Thanksgiving!!

                                  I just was gifted a Honeysuckle turkey and it is BETTER than Butterball, which I had decided after years of experimenting was best of the genre. Now the question, where can I get it again? I had never seen it before. It is the best frozen turkey I ever cooked.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    I believe Walmart carries honeysuckle band

                                    1. re: LaLa

                                      Thank you! We have a little Walmart right now but a 24 hour one opening soon, so I will check it out. It is really good, for a frozen cheap turkey.

                                      For some reason, my husband keeps pointing out the commercials for Walmart where people rave about their beef. I will try to keep an open mind!

                        2. A a grad student I used to host Thanksgiving for cheap.

                          The most expensive thing is the turkey. Research the most affordable place to get it. Don't even bother looking at anything labelled free range, organic or heirloom, because you can't afford it.

                          For the rest of it, if you make it yourself, you can do it pretty cheap. Stick with ingredients that are inexpensive (avoid asparagus, or heirloom tomatoes). For a sample menu.

                          Roasted Turkey. If you don't have a pan, buy a cheap disposable aluminum one, and place it on a cookie tray for support.

                          Gravy - cook up the neck and giblets from the turkey to make a stock, add this to the pan drippings, thicken with flour. If it's not enough, add chicken stock.

                          Stuffing - buy day old bread, skip expensive ingredients like sausage and chestnuts (I do a simple bread/onion/celery/sage stuffing and make lots).

                          Mashed Potatoes - potatoes are cheap. Make lots. Use some butter and milk when mashing them up. To make really good creamy mashed potatoes, boil them whole in the skin (keeps them from getting too wet), peel while still hot, and run them through a food mill or potato ricer (I use a wire strainer and a dowel for the same effect), and mix in butter and milk. Don't use a blender or food processor, as that will over beat them and they'll go gluey.

                          Baked Squash - cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake on a tray with a bit of water until soft (~ 1hr). Scoop out, mash. This can be done the day ahead.

                          Alternate - if you want to go a bit posh, start with squash soup. I use a ratio or one onion, two cups squash and two cups chicken stock - sautee the onion in a bit of oil, add the stock and squash and cook until tender. Puree, and run the a sieve. Season with 1 t cumin, 1/2 cinnamon, 1/4 cloves and about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. The result is very thick and velvety in texture, and very creamy.

                          Steamed green beans; steam, serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Use frozen beans for economy, but not canned.

                          Creamed corn made from scratch, with frozen kernel corn as a base.

                          Apple and celery salad with walnuts and a mayo based dressing.

                          Cranberry sauce - my personal favourite is a fresh cranberry relish made with raw cranberries, fresh oranges (including peel) and sugar.

                          Desert: Apple pie, pumpkin pie, vanilla ice cream. Make from scratch - I find that baking the pumpkin is much easier than stewing it.

                          Approximate shopping list, assuming the equivalent of twelve adults, and using the squash soup. I assume you have flour/salt/milk/sugar/spiceson hand.

                          Approximate shopping list

                          - 15-18 pound pound turkey
                          - 3 large loaves white bread
                          - a bag of onions
                          - a bag of baking potatoes (~15)
                          - 1 bunch celery
                          - 2 blocks butter, 2 blocks shortening (pie crust, and general butter use)
                          - 2 bags of apples
                          - 1 bag frozen green beans
                          - 1 bag frozen corn
                          - 250 ml container of light cream
                          - 3 cans chicken stock
                          - 1 large squash
                          - 2 lemons
                          - 1/2 cup walnuts
                          - 1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
                          - 2 oranges
                          - 1 cooking pumpkin
                          - 2 cans of condensed milk
                          - 4 eggs
                          - jar of mayonaise
                          - 4 L vanilla ice cream

                          For the vegetarian, they can eat everything on the menu except the gravy and turkey. Cook some of the stuffing outside of the turkey. For a turkey substitute, one thing I've done in the past is tofu skins stuffed with a filling of shitake mushrooms and rice, with some soy sauce in the seasoning. It complements the rest of the meal pretty well, and can be assembled ahead of time.

                          For a beverage - wine gets expensive, so if people offer to bring something, tell them to bring a bottle of wine. Or, go with a non alcoholic beverage - something like cranberry cocktail and sparkling water. Coffee and tea with dessert.

                          20 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            Good advice except, depending on where you shop, to avoid asparagus because it's expensive. In fact, here in Chicago (Jewel supermarket) asparagus is regularly sold at $1.99/lb in the lead up to Thanksgiving. Fresh green beans are typically about the same, and I've seen them for as much as $2.49/lb at Thanksgiving. So, my advice on fresh green vegetables, if you are on a budget -- as with everything you are buying -- is read the circulars and shop what's on sale.

                            I do note that the advice here is to buy frozen green beans. They may cost less, but perhaps not enough to make the sacrificed flavor worth the price. You'll save about $2-$3 buying one 32 oz bag of beans, compared to an equivalent amount -- after trimming ends -- of fresh beans or asparagus at $1.99/lb.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              WOW!! That is awesome! Thanks for typing that all out for me!

                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                "Roasted Turkey. If you don't have a pan, buy a cheap disposable aluminum one, and place it on a cookie tray for support. "
                                This is the only part of your advice that I would STRONGLY advise against. The aluminum pan on the cookie tray is just way too unstable, especially when you're trying to maneuver a boiling hot 12 to 25 pound bird with the drippings sloshing around. I did it once and yikes! once was more than enough!
                                Get a cheap graniteware enameled steel roasting pan something like this:
                                You can get them at the dollar store for even less than that and you won't have to worry about your turkey pitching over onto the floor. They're not bad for a cheap pan, either.

                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                  One thing I'd advise NOT to buy for the vegetarian: Tofurky. It's expensive and tastes dreadful. I was veg for nearly 20 years, and ate it only once and that was once too many. Happy hosting!

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      pine - I agree! I bought one for my daughter a few years ago from Trader Joe's and it was awful.

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        most masquerade foods are wrong (turkey bacon? no thx). run the other way to vegan or just eat the flesh, stop the charade.

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Very much agreed. I think the gravy is the most disappointing part of it. Although when I was a vegetarian I only had it a couple of times because there was usually at least one person at the dinner who had a wheat allergy and couldn't eat it. To be fair it does have its fans but I wouldn't bother spending the money on it unless someone asked for it.

                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                            I've made substitute veg gravy with very well caramelized but not burnt onions and mushrooms and celery and flour roux nutty brown (or use cornstarch if gluten problem) and some Worcestershire/little bit soy sauce, lots of pepper if you like and a touch of ginger and lots of thyme. Tastes pretty good but is work.

                                            Add fennel seed to veg dressing for that hint of sausage without sausage. Not too much! add and try. grind seed fresh.

                                            Eating meat is so much easier. For the cook, not the animals. =(

                                            1. re: rccola

                                              Yes, that does sound good. There are many great vegetarian gravies - that's why the one the Tofurkey people provide is such a downer, especially considering the price.

                                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                You know, I never tried Tofurkey. Its reputation preceded it and I was afraid.

                                                Turkey has such a characteristic taste. I made many things from TVP and different spices/sauces but never turkey. Even ham is easier because of smoky taste--and we don't like smoked turkey. Plus the sweet aspect of ham.

                                        2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                          I've seen very nice roasting pans at garage sales...and while I didn't buy one (I have a really good roasting pan, purchased new), I have relied on garage sales for other dishes, I often buy serving dishes for 25 - 50 cents or so each at garage sales.

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            good tip. goodwill, salvation army or other thrift shops also often have things like that, although that should be found as soon as possible, they will be selling them fast at this time of year.

                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                              KaimukiMan - great idea. I need a roasting pan and I never thought to check thrift shops. I'm too late for garage sales in my neck of the woods.

                                              1. re: anniam

                                                Where do you live? (If you don't mind sharing)

                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                  In NE Ohio. Garage sales are big late Spring through Summer and then it gets too cold.

                                                  1. re: anniam

                                                    yes, good point, it is prime garage sale season where I live (California, where October is the best month of the year..) but thrift shops definitely are a good option. Also good for wine glasses, glassware in general, and silver wear.

                                                    1. re: anniam

                                                      I'm not sure exactly where you are in NE Ohio (I'm there too, but you mentioned Acme upthread and I have no idea where the nearest Acme is), but if you have a Marc's anywhere near you, I'd try there as well - they tend to have great prices on staples. The location near me is not the nicest, and they don't take cards other than Discover, but the food is good and significantly less than the Giant Eagle right next to it - usually even less than Giant Eagle's sale prices.

                                                      1. re: jw615

                                                        jw615 - I love Marc's, they've got great produce. I just saw in their flier that they have Honeysuckle turkeys for $.79 lb.

                                                      2. re: anniam

                                                        Try thriftique for serving dishes.

                                                        Value World is handy and Unique, on both the east and west side, has a great monday sale - 50% off!

                                                        And yes, I adore Marc's as well!

                                          2. Anything you can make from scratch is going to be cheaper than pre-made, IF you have the basic ingredients on hand. But if you want pumpkin pie and have to buy the flower and shortening for the crust, brown sugar, eggs, milk/cream and spices for the filling, then its going to cost more. Maybe you compromise and make pumpkin custard instead (half the people leave the crust behind anyhow.)

                                            On some things its going to cost almost the same to make more than enough (almost double) and you end up with leftovers. That can drastically cut your thanksgiving weekend food costs, but only if you actually eat the leftovers and they don't end up either in the back of your fridge till you throw them out, or in the back of aunt Sally's car because she loved it so much. People who bring things are entitled to leftovers, those who come empty handed, leave the same way.

                                            Finally, its a meal. Not a food drive, you aren't trying to feed the teaming hordes at the soup kitchen. You don't have to have 3 varieties of jello salad and 2 kinds of stuffing and 4 potato preparations. Nor do you need to do a turkey, a ham, and a roast to be sure everyone gets something they like.

                                            Because you have vegetarians, don't put ham in the green bean casserole this year. Don't sautee the brussel sprouts in bacon grease, use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth for stuffing, potatoes, etc. Make one protein rich vegetarian dish and the vegetarian will not only appreciate that, but that you didn't make a huge fuss and a lot of extra work. If everyone else absolutely needs meat in the green bean casserole put some bacon bits on the table as a condiment. And depending on the vegetarian, something as simple as a nice egg salad, a side dish for everyone else, can be a centerpiece for the vegetarian.

                                            Good luck. Lots of good advice on this thread.

                                            added: And what?, the people coming empty handed can't chip in $10 or $20? I know they have spent a lot on gas to get there, maybe even on airfare. Only you folks know what is going to be fair. And yes, its a difficult subject to broach, esp. as the host. So have darling daughter call aunt sally to ask her advice on how much would be appropriate, spread the word - especially if aunt sally is old enough to have lived through the great depression.

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                              I like KaimukiMan's point that home-made is not always so cheap if your pantry is not ready for it. You can buy a very good pumpkin pie (esp. at Sam's or Costco) for much less than buying all the raw ingredients for one.

                                              In fact, my quite good local supermarket offers complete pre-made dinners (order ahead) for a price I don't think I could ever match myself. I've never done it, because I like the quality of my stuff better than theirs. And I would actually miss the experience of cooking. But for someone who's really not an experienced cook, it might be an option worth considering.

                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                i noticed costco had a complete meal box for 89.00

                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                  There have been threads about that Costco pumpkin pie, which is delicious (truly) and cheap, not to mention 12" in diameter so it feeds an army! Dress it up with homemade whipped cream flavored with cinnamon and/or pumpkin pie spice. And remember, as Garrison Keillor has reflected, that the best pumpkin pie you have ever had is not all that different from the worst pumpkin pie you have ever had.

                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    Funny--the Keillor remark. I guess I've heard people say the same about pizza and sex, but there I don't agree :)

                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                      pumpkin pie always sux, as far as i am concerned. the other 2? not so much. :)

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        I always thought it was terrible until I had it it made with fresh longneck pumpkin instead of canned. Pulse we only use cinnamon instead of all those other spices. Very light subtle custardy taste.

                                                    2. re: greygarious

                                                      Not even slightly true. The worst pumpkin pie I ever had was at Binibon in the early 80's. Instead of just telling me they were out of it, they took 40 minutes to bring out a slice of uncooked pie shell with a scoop of uncooked pumpkin pie filling on a plate.

                                                    3. re: Bada Bing

                                                      If you are going to buy a pre-made dinner, get it from a restaurant, not a grocery store. Restaurants *know* how to prepare a turkey and sides, grocery stores reheat and re-package.

                                                        1. re: Cathy

                                                          Depends on the grocery. I worked at one which had a full kitchen and the Thanksgiving package was completely made from scratch - kitchen manager was a Johnson & Wales trained chef.

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        I am sorry, but, if you can't afford to host then unfortunately you need to be certain that you do not host. It is one thing to try to cut costs to fit a budget. It is entirely another to charge your guests for the experience of eating at your home. If you can't afford to host then you can certainly let your usual guests know that unfortunately you aren't able to host this year. If they offer on their own to pitch in via potluck or money to make it happen that is one thing but to charge your guests?

                                                        1. re: Astur

                                                          Why is it OK to wish people could contribute a dish, but not ok to wish that they could help defray the cost in other ways. In this case the host is in a position where hosting appears to be virtually mandatory, if no one else can even bring a dish, then they probably can't host either. Sure the host may be able to 'afford' to host, but does that mean they eat peanut butter sandwiches for the next month? I'm afraid I find your reply to be as penurious as you find my comment.

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            Also, since it's Thanksgiving, I'm assuming the guests are family or close friends. Hosting a holiday dinner is a thankless task very often and it is expensive with lots of hidden costs and time consuming.

                                                            In this case, at it seems the host is facing financial challenges, in the spirit of the season, the guests should do what they can (bring dishes, offer financial contributions, etc.) to make it less burdensome for her.

                                                            I would happily pay for an entire Thanksgiving dinner for 12 not to have to host it that day.

                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                              During the decades that I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd I would ask them to bring wine or soft drinks, pies and rolls. Other than that I preferred to make everything myself. Recently I attended T-Day dinner at a friend's and all of us brought some sort of side. The host notified us of what we were expected to bring (or if we got in on the action early enough we could suggest/choose our own side). One year I ended up with creamed onions. I HATE onions, but it was the last thing on her list so i had to make them. I used The Joy of Cooking and everyone loved them so much I ended up being stuck making them every year after that.

                                                              I have to eat free range organic poultry because I'm allergic to the antibiotics they feed regular birds. Because of that, I always bring my own meat, stuffing, and gravy. Expecting the host to spend a ton on a free range organic turkey when everyone else is fine with regular would just be way too inconsiderate. Like the vegetarians who used to attend, I had no problems with providing my own main dish, along with a side for everyone, and then enjoying the potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, corn bread dressing (made with free range chicken broth), asparagus, and potato rolls followed by dessert. Since I don't care for pumpkin pie or mincemeat pie I always made a pecan pie and brought that along to share. As long as you make enough for everyone, you can bring whatever you want. I think any time you have special needs/desires that would put an extra cost or burden on your host you should be responsible for taking care of them yourself.

                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                except in this case it's a given that the guests are not able to bring side dishes, the host will have to provide everything.

                                                            2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              I don't think that it is okay to wish that people defray the costs at all and did not type that. I firmly believe that if you can't afford to throw a party or do hosting that you simply don't do it, even if it hurts. If someone offers to bring something that is a gift. Asking them to bring something or requesting money is considered rude - we would all think the couple getting married and requesting "cash only" to be rude, would we not? It just isn't done. I have had to cut back in my own entertaining lately and would be so upset if someone tried to give me money after I issued them an invitation. If someone asks me if they could contribute a dish and I accept, I am accepting a gift.

                                                              1. re: Astur

                                                                I think there's a difference between hosting a party by your own idea and inclination, and hosting a holiday, which brings with it all sorts of expectations. First, that someone MUST host, and second, what the menu will be.

                                                                1. re: Astur

                                                                  Its not a party for the sake of having a party, it's a holiday and I think you're losing sight of what they day is really about.

                                                                  I know my friends and family would gladly chip in if I told them I'd be happy to host but it was going to be financially difficult if that's what it took to get us all together to spend time together over a nice, traditional meal. I would gladly accept and thank them for their understanding if I were in that position.

                                                                  My friends and family wouldn't consider it rude, it would be considered what family and friends do to support each other and help each other in a time of need- which would be very much in the spirit of the holiday itself.

                                                            3. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              Caveat on the egg dish for the vegetarian: double check if he/she is an ovo-lacto veg, meaning will eat eggs & milk products. Not all do.

                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                yes, which is why i said 'depending on the vegetarian'. besides, maybe he/she doesn't like eggs. but it's an important point.

                                                            4. I had a frugal friend back in the 60's whose family always made double duty with the basic ingredients of their dinner. For appetizers they served stuffed celery and stuffed mushrooms using the stuffing ingredients and chopped liver using the turkey liver. Besides the usual leftovers (sandwiches and soup) leftover scraps of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy were ground up for croquettes and put in the freezer. I used to trade her my turkey carcass for some of those croquettes. They were so good.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Berheenia

                                                                We stopped serving apps years ago . Plan the dinner close to when people arrive, there is no need for apps especially if on a budget, imo.

                                                                1. re: magiesmom

                                                                  We have to have apps and drinks first. Can't mess with tradition. Plus it gives me and my sister- in-law schmooze time in the kitchen.

                                                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                                                    KItchen schmooze time is precious!

                                                              2. I'd definitely go for turkey. If you can't get one free watch for sales on 'turkey parts' Sometimes you can get wings/drum sticks really cheap. Compare those per pound with the cost of a frozen turkey. Get the biggest turkey you can. There's a TON of things you can do with leftover turkey and stock.
                                                                Lots of veg./salad. I've called all the people I knew who were coming to Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner. I say "Howdy! I'm calling to confirm that you're coming for dinner. You are? That's great! Now tell me what are your favorite vegetables?". When I find out who likes what it always seems that I end up with a 'short list' of the veg. most people like. Then, obviously I make sure there's a TON of those veg. on offer. Works every time and the majority are always happy. LOL

                                                                1. I think you have gotten a lot of good advice. Remember that people like to help out and bring something. Costco member - pumpkin pie. Baker - apple pie or specialty dessert. Every one should bring 1 bottle of wine. For the person most concerned with health and fitness - raw veggies, relish tray or a salad. You are left with the basics, everyone can enjoy themselves and you don't have to break the bank.

                                                                  1. I've gotten wonderful advice from everyone. I think the main thing is to keep it simple and non-foodie. Where I get into expense is when I go overboard and try to make too much.

                                                                    Six of the "guests" are my offspring. Daughter #1 lives 2.5 hours away, she comes up a day early and tirelessly helps me cook. Daughter #2 is a struggling single mom of two, going to school and working but I will have her bring a side dish or dessert. Daughters 3 and 4 are college students living at home who also help with prep work. Daughter #5 is 9 years old and son is 13. We usually have a boyfriend or two and and a friend or two of one of the girls who has no where to go. Which is all why I have the lion's share of the cost. I'm very grateful for the help I get.

                                                                    *Janet - I completely agree with you!! If I could pay someone to make T-giving dinner for me, I would do so GLADLY! Heck, I wouldn't even care what they made as long as I wasn't cooking it.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: anniam

                                                                      You're not making the 9 year old bring something? For shame!

                                                                      One year we did just a nuclear family Thanksgiving (we were spending the actual holiday with my grandmother and aunt and my aunt served roast beef and scalloped potatoes, which is supposed to be CHRISTMAS dinner) and we did a pared down menu. Turkey, bread stuffing (bread, butter, sage, celery and onions, plus some broth to moisten), cranberry sauce (cranberries and sugar, essentially), mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Sweet potatoes are also inexpensive in their raw form. And if pumpkin pie seems pricey, there are a lot of basic pies (I made a buttermilk pie last weekend that was just buttermilk, eggs, sugar and cornstarch) that are just as good.

                                                                      1. I/m confused . If six of these people are your kids you have been making these dinners for years. So what is new now?

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: magiesmom

                                                                          Perhaps her financial situation has changed.

                                                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                                                            magiesmom - finances are tight this year, very tight. Paycheck to paycheck tight.

                                                                            1. re: anniam

                                                                              I get it, anniam, Six kids are not cheap to feed.

                                                                              1. re: magiesmom

                                                                                magiesmom - normally I just go to the store and buy what I need for T-giving and that's it. This year we've had a lot of unexpected expenses and I've got to keep T-giving as cheap as possible.

                                                                                1. re: anniam

                                                                                  it is a tough year. I don't think it needs to be an expensive meal. Turkey can be found cheap, potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade stuffing, none of these are a lot. Apps unnecessary, cranberries are on sale and cheap to make from scratch, veggies probably the biggest thing.

                                                                          2. Do not wait to shop for Thanksgiving groceries on the Night Before Thanksgiving... the shelves might be BARE. Don't be a Last Minute shopper...
                                                                            Really, it happened to me after working a very long day... I went shopping and was shocked to find the cupboard was bare - with empty shelves and nothing to restock. Arrrgh.

                                                                            It's one thing or another... ice, or whipping cream might make it on the Day of the Bird shopping list.

                                                                            I LOVE that this one meal is nearly the same on every table across the country, every year. If it's ...., then it must be THANKSGIVING.

                                                                            1. All supermarket chains here put their weekly specials online. Watch these in your area like a hawk and shop the loss leaders, which will start a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Check out cut-rate stores like Aldi for staples like canned green beans and mushroom soup to make green bean casserole. Watch especially for turkey deals. Make everything from scratch (gravy, stuffing, pies) rather than pay for someone else's labor with mixes or prepared foods. And don't get yourself into a snit trying to accommodate special diets--let them skip what they can't eat. Don't worry about such gourmet fads as brining. Why can't others bring something---long travel that day, too poor, what? Reading your post I get an uneasy feeling that you are being taken advantage of. Do you feel that you are?

                                                                              1. The cheapest way to do stuffing would be to use homemade cornbread. That's what I do. Otherwise the advice to buy day old bread is pretty good. Also, creamed corn or corn pudding made from frozen corn is fairly cheap. And you can buy a couple of bags for your freezer ahead by a week a or two.

                                                                                You are probably doing a big turkey. Be sure your oven is big enough, and that you have a big enough roaster for whatever you buy. If you don't, borrow from someone, or figure out a substitute.

                                                                                You can skimp on the cranberry relish, and have lots of mashed potatoes. With homemade gravy for the potatoes, no one will mind.

                                                                                And, unless you are cooking for destitute people, in which case God bless you, your guests can probably bring bakery rolls, wine, coffee, or after dinner mints. If there is something along those lines that would make life easier, then I'd ask for it.

                                                                                If you do a nice relish tray, then you can buy a couple jars of pickles and olives now for later.

                                                                                1. anniam, hope you're not letting the second guessing around here get you down... I've done several Thanksgivings on the cheap but also tend to be a bit of a worrier so I'm not able to postpone my buying/prep. One thing I find a huge savings (and a flavor boost) is to make (lots) of my own stock. Enjoy!

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: miss louella

                                                                                    Everything miss louella said, I echo. Stores around here start carrying turkey parts cheap the week before and I make a bunch of turkey stock and freeze for boatloads of gravy. Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

                                                                                    1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                      one year I didn't get to making stock and used the potato cooking water. Guess what? The gravy was still amazing. And I am known for my gravy.

                                                                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                                                                        magiesmom, great tip! did you leave the potatoes unsalted? I don't always plan ahead enough to have the stock I need for various things.

                                                                                        1. re: miss louella

                                                                                          yes, I never salt potatoes until I am mashing them anyway. I usually have roasted vegetable stock in the freezer, but honestly I think the potato water works just as well as anything in this case as turkey drippings have a lot of flavor. I am sure many will disagree.

                                                                                    2. re: miss louella

                                                                                      miss louella - thanks ... I never thought asking how to keep the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 12 down would provoke any negative comments. Go figure (-; Thanks for the advice!

                                                                                      1. re: anniam

                                                                                        The only point I disagree with is that things go on sale the week before. Most items are on sale now and won't be on sale the week before; they don't have to be.

                                                                                        Most of the items in the most recent Sunday coupons will be on sale in two weeks and there will be no Sunday coupons the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

                                                                                        Otherwise, buy whatever is on sale and make a meal out of it.

                                                                                        1. re: Cathy

                                                                                          Agree that most manufacturer's coupons will be in this Sunday's circular -- but storebrand may be cheaper than the couponed products and sale-pricing within the store may not start until the Thursday before Thanksgiving. In terms of sale pricing in the store, typically if you look at the fine-print on the shelving that shows the price, it will say the date on which the sale price ends. Especially if you are trying to amass a big enough total purchase so that you get a discounted price or free turkey, you are going to want to concentrate most of your purchases with the purchase of the turkey -- and depending upon your fridge/ freezer capacity, that probably means waiting until the weekend before Thanksgiving. So, save the coupons and, if you go to the store this weekend & notice items on sale, only buy them if the sale pricing will end before the following weekend.

                                                                                          One other tip, unrelated to your actual Thanksgiving meal but may be helpful for budget meal planning later: The day after Thanksgiving a lot of stores put their fresh (i.e., not frozen) turkeys on sale because they have a limited shelf life. Buy one then and freeze it if you've got the freezer space; it will be an economical meal that you can have later.

                                                                                        2. re: anniam

                                                                                          I'm so glad you started this thread! I am making my first Thanksgiving dinner since I got downsized at work and have 15 people instead of the usual 6 for dinner so I needed to start thinking about how to cut costs too. There have been a lot of good ideas that I have gotten from this including grabbing a free crock pot for the stuffing. And now I need to track down some turkey parts for gravy. I was toying with the idea of buying some gravy starter from a gourmet store but I need to get grounded about money these days. Keep the ideas coming!

                                                                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                            Berheenia - Gravy from turkey parts is the way to go but I can't always find them around here for some reason.

                                                                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                              I take whatever is inside and make the gravy out of that plus the pan drippings. The only thing that didn't come from the bit I was using was a little salt, pepper wine and flour for the roux.

                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                I usually do it your way and take my time but this is in a rented space with 15 people waiting for dinner so I need to make it fast and make a lot of it!

                                                                                              2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                No you don't :-) Roast the bird in a pan on a rack. In the pan, put white wine, stock, herbs, onion, carrots, celery (if that's your thing, I hate celery so leave it out). Add liquid as needed while the turkey is roasting and you will have the best damn drippings you've ever had.

                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                  This is the first unstuffed turkey for me so all these ideas look really good. Thanks!

                                                                                          2. If there's a bread outlet store near you (what my husband calls the "Used Bread Store" lol) you can get your hands on day-old bread for stuffing at a good price. Also can get rolls for dinner; if you have a large freezer can get all this ahead of time (or someone on this thread has advised drying stuffing cubes it in oven and storing in bags).

                                                                                            I agree that homemade stock is the best, but many stores will sell their own-brand cans pretty cheaply, many will even have a lower-sodium product. Worth considering if you don't have a backlog of bones or chicken parts in the freezer.

                                                                                            I agree with the Costco pumpkin pie rec. If you have a friend with a membership, see if they can pick one up and you can reimburse.

                                                                                            Store-brand butter is fine and you can start looking for it and stocking up now, keeps well.

                                                                                            Celery can be bought ahead and wrapped in foil to help preserve longer.

                                                                                            Sweet potatoes go on sale various weeks this month and keep well. I've got 4 in the slow-cooker right now for this week; I serve them baked or steamed for T-day since I can't abide that casserole-thingy. You could bake/slowcook them the day before and then gently reheat at dinnertime.

                                                                                            No-brand frozen whipped cream works fine. (Mind you, those Cool-whip plastic containers last forever, I used one to bring lunch to work all the time and a coworker was convinced that it was the only bowl in my house lol.)

                                                                                            I also agree with looking for the "free turkey with $$ purchase" deals. Generally store brand, they're fine; one per customer per trip. Calculate your total before checkout, if it looks like enough that you could get a second bird, and you have freezer space (or daughter does), then save half the shopping for the next day and get the second bird. One year I did get a turkey with two butts, was a little strange but tasted fine.

                                                                                            Don't worry about not being able to "do it all up", and don't worry about people who hide behind their keyboards. Your family will enjoy, the grandkids will have fun, and they'll know that you care and that you love them. My mom's turkey was always dust-dry lol but she made our holidays wonderful.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                              Yesterday our local grocery store had those HUGE fresh pork thighs on sale. They're the ones that you can barely lift. Some people cure them and make prosciutto. They were sooooo cheap I couldn't resist buying one. I actually was thinking about your thread when I bought it. Here's an idea: I've done this a couple of times and it's a REALLY good way of getting a lot of excellent meat really cheap. There's a thick layer of fat that you must remove. I throw it away but I guess you could do something with it. Now cut half inch thick steaks...across the grain of course. You'll have to cut around the bone. You'll end up with a big stack of steaks. Now cut the steaks into pieces about 4/5" across. Now if you tried to fry one you'd find the meat to be very tough. Now put each steak between plastic rap and pound the steak with a wine bottle either filled with water or unopened as evenly as you can until the steak is now only about 1/4" thick. This breaks up the tissues and helps tenderize it. Now what you got is a big stack of pork 'cutlets'. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and freeze. Now you can pull as many cutlets as you need and thaw and bread and gently and carefully fry them. They'll only take a minute or so. You could serve them with all the holiday trimmings. Apple sauce. Mushroom gravy (use canned soup and thin with milk and add some fresh parsley) Tinned cranberry jelly. You name it. If you REALLY want to get a 'turkey' flavor going (don't tell anyone) buy a few packages of powdered 'turkey gravy mix' Make a TON of this gravy. Make sure to add some fresh finely chopped thyme, oregano or rosemary and a splash of red wine for that made from scratch look. The pork cutlets drowned in this gravy will taste a LOT like turkey cutlets. (After all this gravy trick is a staple in a lot of restaurants.)
                                                                                              PORK the 'other white meat'. Any time you see these pork thighs I suggest you make cutlets out of them.

                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                Puffin - Is a pork thigh the same as a shank? How big is it?

                                                                                                1. re: anniam

                                                                                                  the shank is from below the "knee". puffin's cut comes from higher up the leg.

                                                                                                  i just bought a smoked pork picnic butt -- the same cut you would use to make pulled pork, but it's got a hammy flavor to it from being cured and smoked. boneless, so zero waste and super cheap, only $1.59 pp. it needs soaking to leach out some of the salt from the cure, but is a good economical holiday meat. if you're not married to turkey that is.

                                                                                                  i don't know anywhere around here that gives away free turkeys, for sure.

                                                                                                  1. re: anniam

                                                                                                    A pig thigh is really big! Think twenty pounds.

                                                                                              2. OMG! I just made the best stump-the-stars "homemade" apple pie made from my own crust and CHEEP gourmet apple filling (plus a little Meyer lemon juice from neighbor's tree and extra butter) bought at Marshall's. Don't forget to take a little swing by those stores and check their gourmet overstock sellout aisle! They had pumpkin pie filling, too but I didn't try. Bought lemon curd and, with leftover crust, made little old neighbor guy a tiny tart just for him. And he loved that!

                                                                                                1. I've noticed that both of my grocery stores, King Soopers (Kroger) and Safeway have put Thanksgiving stuff on crazy good sale, starting today. Stuff like the cartons of chicken broth for 1.49 (cans 49 cents), marshmallows for 49 cents, 15lb bag of potatoes for 3.99. Safeway already has turkeys on sale... I think 7.99 for a small one (under 14lbs) and only a couple dollars more for the larger ones. No minimum purchase required. The produce market (Sprouts) has organic red garnet yams (sweet potatoes) for 88 cents a pound. I plan to do the bulk of my shopping this weekend since I just got paid, and just save the last minute shopping for the perishable produce.

                                                                                                  1. This is apropos :


                                                                                                    edit: a chart about feasting on a budget for Thanksgiving - not a loan solicitation!

                                                                                                    1. I make my stock the early day before. I use the gizzard, neck, and snip off the wing tips. I also cut off the tail. Simmer with onions, salt pepper. Let chill. I separate the fat from the stock, but I don't throw it away. I use it instead of butter as the rub for the breast. I use the stock in the stuffing along with the diced giblet and neck meat and leftover stock goes into the pan and is the starter for the basting juices. Gravy is made from pan juices thickened with flour and enriched with milk.

                                                                                                      For the vegetarian dish, I'd suggest a cheese and vegetable strata. Milk, eggs, cheese, veggies, bread slices. A combination of protein source and stuffing substitute.

                                                                                                      I usually buy frozen veggies as they're usually on sale for a great price. Except for carrots. I use fresh ones to make glazed carrots.

                                                                                                      I'm from Maryland, so, weird as it seems, the tradition is to serve sauer kraut.

                                                                                                      I'm not a fan of pumpkin, so I bake an apple pie. As the apples are going into a pie, you can use the ones that have been marked down.

                                                                                                      Keep checking the circulars. You can make a delicious, festive meal for not a lot of money. If possible, keep your options open as to what you serve.

                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                        When we first moved to MD my dad asked seine what they were having for Thanksgiving dinner and when the other gentleman got to sauerkraut my dad said "what? are you having hotdogs?"

                                                                                                        When we used to volunteer at the church Thanksgiving dinner, I would always pray not to be the server/runner at the steam table. The sauerkraut and hot gravy from that area always stank and I would easily burn myself trying to carry dishes of those.

                                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                                          So, I take it, no sauer kraut at you TG table? ;)

                                                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                            Nope, only on my Reuben sandwich ;)

                                                                                                            My father eats jarred res cabbage on Thanksgiving but since he is the only one who likes it at the dinner I am doing it won't be served. We will probably have it at the chicken dinner my parents are hosting for my sister. She hates thanksgiving so she isn't coming to my house.

                                                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                                                              she hates thanksgiving? Its like the least offensive holiday..lol

                                                                                                              1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                depending on your family - as others have shared for some families large quantities of alcohol can be justified, or should be avoided - depending on the family habits and addictions.

                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                  Agreed. Sometimes it's better to pass than develop lockjaw from biting your tongue.

                                                                                                                2. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                  She doesn't like the food, there are no presents and drinking is not the focus. Generally she eats pasta with butter and Parmesan as her main dish.

                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                    Hmm, I guess Christmas and St Paddy's are the only really good holidays ;)

                                                                                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                      My sis gets presents for Easter and valentine's day and christmasThere is drinking on St Paddy's, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day and New Years. While we have wine at Thanksgiving the food is the real draw and since she hates it there isn't much enjoyment. It is my favorite.

                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                        Suggest adding Wild Turkey to the menu.

                                                                                                        2. Its a bye week in Greater Boston for the Patriots and it seems to be one for the chains too. The only stuff on sale that is TG oriented is some baking ingredients. They are all pushing the ready made meals though and it could tempting for people to spend under a 100 dollars and forget about making TG dinner. I'm not seeing any mention of turkeys or cranberry. The meat depts are emptying out their lockers for turkey and there is lots of other meat on sale if you want to get a whole chicken and a box of ready made stuffing and have a preview meal this is the weekend to do it.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                            am slightly north of boston and my usual market was still without power yesterday. am hoping some sales start next week.

                                                                                                          2. I'm a big believer in a good turkey, so I am not the best person to give advice here.

                                                                                                            For cranberry sauce, I don't mind the stuff in the can. For fresh, I like baking fresh cranberries with sugar, covered in foil. It makes the most beautiful bright magenta, jewel colored whole cranberry sauce, and it's delicious. It also keeps well. If you're interested, I'll look up the proportions, etc. for you. Just two ingredients, one of which you already have.

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                I would love to have the recipe for that.

                                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                  Here you go ... the proportion is 2 to 1 berries to sugar. Sort the berries and wash. Spread in a baking pan (13 x 9 for 4 cups of berries, I generally use about half that in 8 x 8). Sprinkle evenly with the sugar, and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 300 for an hour. I stir about halfway through and re-cover so that the sugar is dissolved at the end. Optional, 1/4 c brandy per 2 c berries (I've never used this as it's wonderful without the alcohol).

                                                                                                                  This is so easy, and I think so much better than the stuff with orange peel and nuts. And the color is a great bonus on the relatively dull Thanksgiving plate.

                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                    Wow, that's a new one to me, and I'm no spring chicken (or spring turkey?). Thanks!

                                                                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                        I make essentially the same recipe from epicurious, except with bourbon:


                                                                                                                        It is so stupid easy and the jewel-tone of the end result is really beautiful.

                                                                                                                  2. Here's an "easier than pie" Pumpkin Dessert that been on my aunt's table every Thanksgiving:
                                                                                                                    Mix and set aside:
                                                                                                                    1-1/2 c. Bisquick
                                                                                                                    1/2 cup sugar
                                                                                                                    1/2 cup chopped nuts

                                                                                                                    1 small can of pumpkin puree - 15 oz.
                                                                                                                    2/3 cup sugar
                                                                                                                    1/2 tsp. salt
                                                                                                                    1/2 tsp. ginger
                                                                                                                    1/4 tsp. cloves
                                                                                                                    2 eggs, beaten
                                                                                                                    1 cup evaporated milk

                                                                                                                    Pour into greased 8x8 inch square baking dish
                                                                                                                    Top with Bisquick baking mix and drizzle with 1/2 cube of melted butter ( 4 Tbl.)
                                                                                                                    Bake 45 minutes to one hour: 350°F
                                                                                                                    Cool. Serve with whipped cream.

                                                                                                                    To replace the Bisquick baking mix, this copycat recipe was online two years ago:
                                                                                                                    Quick Baking Mix
                                                                                                                    9 cups all purpose flour (half whole wheat and half white unbleached flour)
                                                                                                                    4 tablespoons baking powder (increase to 5 tablespoons if using whole wheat flour)
                                                                                                                    1 tablespoon salt
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons cream of tartar
                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon baking soda
                                                                                                                    1 pound of butter (4 sticks) at room temperature
                                                                                                                    In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients. Blend well. With a pastry cutter or a heavy duty mixer cut in the butter. The mixture should have the texture of cornmeal. Store in a container in the refrigerator until needed.
                                                                                                                    This mix should replace any recipe calling for Bisquick baking mix.

                                                                                                                    Quick Mix Drop Biscuits
                                                                                                                    3 cups of Quick Mix
                                                                                                                    1 cup of milk or buttermilk
                                                                                                                    Preheat your oven to 450° F.
                                                                                                                    Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
                                                                                                                    Combine quick mix and 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk. Stir until blended. Drop dough by well rounded tablespoons on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

                                                                                                                    1. Turkey dinners are, by nature, cost effective.

                                                                                                                      I cooked one up yesterday - I wanted a practice run of a Washington Post recipe for a butterflied turkey.

                                                                                                                      Since I did it on a whim, I paid full price for a grocery store turkey ($1.29/lb - shame on me). This was offset by using some veggies and herbs from the garden. Here's the run down and the results:

                                                                                                                      9 lb. Turkey $11.61
                                                                                                                      1.5 qt. Organic Chicken Stock $3.75
                                                                                                                      1 lb. Carrots $0.79, and some more from the garden
                                                                                                                      2 lb. Onion $1.18, and some more from the garden
                                                                                                                      2 lb. Celery $1.98
                                                                                                                      2/3 c. rice $0.50
                                                                                                                      1 Butternut squash from the garden
                                                                                                                      2 Apples from the garden
                                                                                                                      1 lb. potatoes from the garden
                                                                                                                      1/4 lb. butter $0.50
                                                                                                                      2 c. Apple Cider $0.50
                                                                                                                      Thyme, Bay, Parsley from the garden
                                                                                                                      1/2 c. flour from the pantry
                                                                                                                      Salt and Pepper from the pantry
                                                                                                                      Chicken Fat from the pantry
                                                                                                                      Bacon fat from the pantry

                                                                                                                      Dinner for two was butternut squash soup, herb-crusted roast turkey, wild rice, and apple-cider gravy.

                                                                                                                      This morning I made stock and put the leftovers and holdovers to use. In all I ended up with:

                                                                                                                      3 quarts of chunky turkey and vegetable soup
                                                                                                                      2 quarts of golden stock
                                                                                                                      ...and had 1.5 pints of leftover cider gravy, and 1 qt. butternut squash soup, as well.

                                                                                                                      Between the turkey dinner and soups, we'll get at least 6 meals (12 servings) out of it. Plus the gravy and stock will be purposed towards more meals as well. Not bad for around $21, and I wasn't watching my costs much. It can be done for a lot less if you keep your eye out for specials at the store.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: MunchkinRedux

                                                                                                                        cost effective IF you have a garden, but I don't know a single person who would be able to pull more than one or two of those ingredients out of their yard.

                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                          Have to agree as I type this during the first snowfall of the year in NYC. Even the more bombproof herbs like thyme are going to be harder to get from the garden by Nov. 22.