Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving on a shoestring

Enjoy the holiday

During this time when most of us are cutting back on our spending and trying to find ways to beat the economic slump, entertaining family and friends may be quite a challenge, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Americans love to eat. Some wait all year for that one day they can "pig out" and feel okay about it. Everyone stuffs themselves with all manner of food and drink on Thanksgiving. It's been a tradition since the pilgrims sat down with the Indians for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621.

Keeping the cost down

Even if you are out of work, on employment or temporarily living with your parents, it is still possible to create an incredible Thanksgiving dinner, if you give it some thought. The secret is in the planning and in doing most of the work yourself. Rather than rushing out and buying up expensive bags of ready made dressing, cans of cranberry sauce and canned gravy, you might want to consider making these items from scratch. Lots of good recipes are available on the internet and making them from scratch costs a lot less and, in most cases, tastes better.

Planning your dinner

You first have to decide whether or not you can afford to buy a turkey. That might depend on the size of your family and the amount of money you have to spend. Turkeys are more expensive than chicken or other fowl and are usually quite large, so you might consider buying a chicken instead or Cornish game hens, if you're cooking for a smaller group. Chicken goes just as well with all the thanksgiving trappings. However, if you absolutely have to have a turkey, remember that if you buy one a little bigger than what you'll need for the big day, you can have at least three meals out of it by making wonderful dishes with the left overs. Some ideas are: turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, turkey/rice soup, turkey burgers, and turkey hash.

Food and Drink

After the meat, the easiest and least expensive dishes to include in your meal are potatoes (white or sweet), vegetables, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. The first two items will probably be on sale at your grocer during the season. Vegetables vary in cost from inexpensive green beans, corn, broccoli and squash to more expensive mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus. A big cost saver would be to make your own dinner rolls or biscuits and pie, as well as the cranberry sauce, the dressing, and the gravy. They really are not difficult to make and you can actually have fun doing it, if you allow enough time. Figure your schedule out ahead of time and make some of your food and drink items the day before.

The kids most likely will drink milk, and some of the adults too. But, for something a little more festive, you might try a cranberry punch or serve a lovely white wine with your turkey. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio all go well with turkey, as does Pouilly Fuisse (which is a little more expensive, but might be an interesting choice if you are a guest and want to bring something special to the host or hostess). And, of course after the main meal, lots of delicious strong coffee to keep everyone from falling asleep from the the tryptophan in the turkey is a must.

Making a fabulous pie

If you don't like pumpkin, apple pie goes well with this type of meal. And if you have children, they really enjoy helping in the kitchen and can be assigned various jobs to help you out. Making pie crust seems to strike terror in the hearts of many cooks. So, buying them ready made has become common place. However, they are more expensive than homemade and, in most cases don't taste as good. For those of you who are adventurous, here is a video with exact instructions. Once you have your crust(s) made, you can either add apples for a scruptous apple pie or canned pumpkin for the traditional pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. Great post! You have a beautiful blog and Congrats on the foodie blogroll!


  2. Thank you for the nice comments. Very much appreciated.