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Thanksgiving: Cut Costs, Not Flavor

Thanksgiving: Cut Costs, Not Flavor

Kayla Baxter | NursingLink

November 20, 2009

Cheap Tricks

Serve a soup to start. It will give those kitchen lurkers something to snack on (therefore getting them out of your way!) and it has the added bonus of filling up your guests early on, so that your likelihood of turkey leftovers increases. We like butternut squash soup, which can be made from dirt-cheap squash (easily microwaved to soften, then blended with warm spices like nutmeg and clove, salt and pepper.) You can find lots of variations on recipes here.

Make your own stuffing. With a couple loaves of stale bread and some basic veggies, chicken stock and butter, you can create a delicious stuffing for under $10. Cubing bread can be delegated to the little ones, too, reducing your workload and keeping them occupied! Find recipes here.

Buy canned or frozen veggies. Canned and frozen vegetables are packaged at the peak of their ripeness, so you get maximum flavor without a lot of prep work. Can you imagine cleaning, trimming and chopping hundreds of fresh green beans for the traditional green bean casserole? You’re easily saving yourself half an hour and at least a few bucks, too. Don’t forget about canned pumpkin, which lends itself easily to pies, soups and casseroles. You might even find canned butternut squash!

Go to farmer’s markets and small local markets for produce. Fresh herbs are especially great to buy at farmer’s markets; fresh rosemary, sage, and other great Thanksgiving herbs can often be found for under $2 a bunch. Russet and sweet potatoes often go for a bargain, too. Look for what’s in season and you’ll always get a better price than the supermarket.

Create atmosphere with free outdoor finds. This is another task for the little ones: ask them to create a Thanksgiving centerpiece with whatever is lying around the yard — brightly colored leaves, flowers, pinecones, bark. They’ll stay entertained and out of your hair, and you’ll get an adorable centerpiece made with love.

Make your own pie crust. This one is so easy, and so worth it. Buying a crust could cost you $5-6 dollars, and they tend to be crumbly, hard and grainy. Making your own crust can be done using just flour, sugar, salt and butter which you likely already have on hand, and produces a crust so light, buttery and flaky, you’ll never go back to store-bought again.

NOTE: The recipe (found here) mandates that you use ice-cold water — it’s the secret to getting the flakiness right! You also don’t need a food processor; you can use the same instrument you mash potatoes with to get the right consistency.

Send for help! There’s no reason not to ask people to chip in and bring at least a bottle of wine. You can’t be expected to do absolutely everything yourself, so entrust the help of your friends and family and assign dishes out.