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    Thanksgiving Dinner Help

    I will have relatives coming over for the first time in several years. Does anyone have recommendations on a delicious Thanksgiving dinner I can prepare without going broke for about 15 to 20 people?

    #2
    Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

    Are you going to be doing it all yourself?

    Potlucking is the most frugal way to go, and it can also help with the inevitable fight of "why don't we have X on the table?" Have your guests bring the dish that it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without.

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      #3
      Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

      Turkey, it really is cheap. Potatoes are pretty cheap too, and easy if you leave the skins on. (healthier too.)

      Then go potluck for the sides.

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        #4
        Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

        Potluck is not really an option. Most are flying in from out of town.

        Any other suggestions for inexpensive side dishes?

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          #5
          Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

          Hmm, what makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving to you?

          For me it is pumpkin pie, Cranberry sauce, candied Yams for DH, and Corn (oh and Turkey and Mashed potatoes, and gravy)

          The pumpkin pie I bake pretty cheap (compared to buying) For ease I might freeze them (easier than the day of when a million other stuff has to be done)

          For the candied Yams, again cheaper to do yourself, I have heard they keep in a crockpot, might google a recipie online, that way you ould do all the work the night before and have it ready to put on the heat. (sweet potatoes with brown sugar and butter, basic recipie around here)

          Cranberry sauce I also make ahead (well not this year, yet) And freeze, supposed to be cold anyway, thaws perfect from the freezer.

          Anyway watch for sales, and buy as you go rather than the week of.

          And most important (and what I always forget) RELAX, no one expects you to have EVERYTHING (and if they do that is their problem not yours.)

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            #6
            Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

            Originally posted by crosses
            Potluck is not really an option. Most are flying in from out of town.

            Any other suggestions for inexpensive side dishes?
            Could be fun to have your guests bring the recipes and expertise and trade them around. Then everyone gets a little souvenir of the dinner.

            Here's my list, heavy on the midwestern memories. Pick and choose!

            Turkey
            Mashed potatoes
            Dressing/ stuffing
            Gravy (Got a gravy expert?)
            Greens or peas or green bean casserole
            Yams or sweet potatoes - like mine with butter and maple syrup
            Relish tray - olives, celery, radish, carrots, pickles, pickled apples, little salad peppers
            Little squash (if you have a vegetarian, stuff several with the dressing)
            Rolls or biscuits
            Cranberry sauce. Tastes best from the can
            Pumpkin, apple, or cherry pie. If you make cranberry sauce, make it a bit sweet and you can drizzle some over cheesecake.

            I'm so not frugal during Thanksgiving... but then, after a nap, after I collect the bones and make turkey stock, I become frugal again.

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              #7
              Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

              Now, you all have made me hungry and it is almost midnight!

              We have a very simple Thanksgiving meal but it is sooo yummy.
              Turkey (always put an apple inside-makes it extremely tender and tasty)
              Dressing
              Gravy
              Mashed Potatoes
              Sweet Potatoes
              Green Beans wrapped in bacon (awesome)
              Green Stuff (a jello salad made out of lime jello, cottage cheese, pineapple)
              Raw Veggies (celery stuffed w/cream cheese, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli)
              Wheat Rolls
              Cranberry Sauce
              Olives (by request of my niece-she likes to put them on her fingers
              Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Walnut Pie, and sometimes Pumpkin Cheesecake or pumpkin bread (by request of me...I love pumpkin bread)

              Now I really can't wait until Thanksgiving! The best part is being with my sons and their families, brothers family and my sisters family for lunch and then going to my husband's family for supper (3 hour drive) and they have a totally different tradition for their meal...tons of desserts, noodles added to the lineup above and turnips and ham....luckily for me I don't ever gain any weight because I make sure I get plenty of exercise. The guys usually play football and the women go for a walk or play games.

              (Sigh) A great time is had by all! I really will have to exercise well this year because our granddaughter's birthday party is the day after Thanksgiving which means cake on top of everything else. Such a blessing!

              Well, it is Tuesday here now and I am going to turn in. I look forward to hearing everyone's suggestions on Thanksgiving Dinner.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                Originally posted by baselle
                Could be fun to have your guests bring the recipes and expertise and trade them around. Then everyone gets a little souvenir of the dinner.

                Here's my list, heavy on the midwestern memories. Pick and choose!

                Turkey
                Mashed potatoes
                Dressing/ stuffing
                Gravy (Got a gravy expert?)
                Greens or peas or green bean casserole
                Yams or sweet potatoes - like mine with butter and maple syrup
                Relish tray - olives, celery, radish, carrots, pickles, pickled apples, little salad peppers
                Little squash (if you have a vegetarian, stuff several with the dressing)
                Rolls or biscuits
                Cranberry sauce. Tastes best from the can
                Pumpkin, apple, or cherry pie. If you make cranberry sauce, make it a bit sweet and you can drizzle some over cheesecake.

                I'm so not frugal during Thanksgiving... but then, after a nap, after I collect the bones and make turkey stock, I become frugal again.


                Pickled apples? That sounds interesting. Are they home-made or bought? And if they are home-made, I would be interested in how?
                Thanks.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                  Originally posted by alliance
                  Pickled apples? That sounds interesting. Are they home-made or bought? And if they are home-made, I would be interested in how?
                  Thanks.
                  I just remember those red circles - cored, sliced apples in cinnamon. I think they were bought - their shade of bright red was *not* natural.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                    Originally posted by baselle
                    I just remember those red circles - cored, sliced apples in cinnamon. I think they were bought - their shade of bright red was *not* natural.
                    Okay, a quick Google search tells me that they are spiced apple rings. I can't find a place where you can buy them, but here's a recipe:

                    http://recipes.robbiehaf.com/S/186.htm

                    Maybe my grandma made them. She was an excellent canner, so its possible. And the shade of red was not natural - it was caused by red hots.

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                      #11
                      Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                      A few ideas.

                      Cook the turkey in one of those Reynold's turkey bags. You don't have to watch it, it cooks more quickly, stays moist, and it will stay pretty warm if you don't have much oven space.

                      Fresh Cranberry/orange relish/salad you can make ahead and it keeps well. For some reason people always think it's elegant.

                      If you make bread, make rolls up ahead and freeze them.

                      Yams/sweet potatoes, you can get a large box at Costco or on sale, bake up ahead and freeze. When you are ready to use, they come out beautifully and you can add whatever toppings you like in rebaking them.

                      If you are really pressed, there is an easy and inexpensive Jello Cheesecake recipe that people like.

                      Broccoli is easy to prepare ahead and microwave.

                      Even if you get caught up in spending too much on the dinner, conserve on the leftovers! Turkey Divan is always a hit with company and is cheap, and uses lots of leftovers.

                      Cranberry/orange salad tossed onto some lettuce/greens with a sprinkling of nuts and a sweet dressing like raspberry vinagrete is a good replay on leftovers.

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                        #12
                        Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                        I just received email from Betty Crocker. Their web site has not only a menu, but a schedule of doing things ahead, shopping, etc. that might help.

                        p.s.--with a crowd that large, my mother in law always does a buffet table, then a formal sit down to eat.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                          Originally posted by crosses
                          I will have relatives coming over for the first time in several years. Does anyone have recommendations on a delicious Thanksgiving dinner I can prepare without going broke for about 15 to 20 people?

                          From a home ec teacher:
                          Having people bring stuff is best to offset the cost.
                          This week my foods classes are planning and making a thanksgiving dinner for $1.50 per person. They are brining the ads in on Monday and we will brain storm recipes based on the thanksgiving sales.
                          Last year Turkey was 18 cents a pound , sweet potatoes 19cents a pound and white potatoes were cheap. We put on a dinner for 20 students for about $25 dollars. The turkey was only $3.80 so we had room to spare for other food items. We made sweet potato casserole with marshmellows and sweet potatoes. We made pumpkin pie.
                          Some great resources are:
                          www.allrecipes.com
                          specific company websites
                          http://www.butterball.com/en/index.jsp (how to make turkey)

                          Making things yourself by scratch is less expensive.
                          I put old bread in the freezer and use for stuffing/dressing rather than boxed. However, stovetop is buy one get one free this week. To increase the yeild of the stovetop, add torn pieces of bread with the stovetop.

                          Gravy is cheap and potatoes are usually inexpensive.

                          biscuits are real cheap to make but should not be made ahead ( can be held up to 1 hr. before baking due to the use of baking powder).

                          An easy and cheap veg casserole is green beans (drained) with cream of mushroom. Get green beans on sale and use house brand soup.

                          Often you can get frozen pies for buy one get one free at the holidays.
                          If not, apple crisp is fast, easy, inexpensive and a good alternative to apple pie.

                          Drinks: iced tea and coffee- brew your own tea. cheap! Don't buy cans of soda unless a fantastic price. If you have soda, buy liters on sale and have people pour their own.
                          Avoid paper plates if saving $$ but the clean up is more work when using dishes. Clean up time can be a shared bonding time for family and friends "Many hands make light work". Dishes always look better. Simple decorations or candles add to your thoughtfulness of the meal. Use what you have.
                          Be creative and think through cost. Off brands are also cheapest and usually just as good.


                          Always remember to use the leftovers for lunches and cook up those wonderful bones for a hearty turkey soup. YUM!!!

                          FOOD SANITAION CAUTION!!!
                          Do not thaw your turkey on the counter. Plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator. It takes about 5 days for a 20lb. bird. Go to the butterball website for specific directions.

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                            #14
                            Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                            A lot of good advice here...my mom always buys a ton of pies for the freezer around Thanksgiving. She gets them for a few bucks each. You can't even make them for that! So keep an eye out for pies and keep them in the freezer until you need them.
                            Remember all that bread/hamburger and hot dog rolls/Italian bread etc. that goes bad before you use it? Stick it in the freezer if it looks like you won't use it before it gets hard and make stuffing out of it later. We never use fresh bread for stuffing, and it never matters. We use sausage in ours, but a meatless stuffing would cost very little.
                            We also have potatoes with gravy, veggies, dinner rolls, etc. Be creative!

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                              #15
                              Re: Thanksgiving Dinner Help

                              If you have access to a farmer's market or fruit/vegetable stand your sides can be really cheap. Winter squash, brussels sprouts, apples and chestnuts are "in season" in Ohio right now and potatoes are available, too. There's a small farmer that sells veggies out of his garage. I got a peck of apples for $4 (apple pies).

                              I grew my own squash this year, but he was selling them for $0.75 a piece so you can serve squash instead of yams. Also, I've made "pumpkin" pies with cooked butternut or buttercup squash instead and no one knew the difference. Every year I make stuffed squash (I'm vegetarian, so someone else handles the turkey).

                              Using stale bread for stuffing, as someone else suggested, is a really good idea. Check the food network website (foodtv.com) for recipes, or the veggies unite (vegweb.com) website.

                              I also make this dish every year, and people really seem to like it. It's not my own concoction, but I can't remember where I got the recipe. Slice brussles sprouts in half. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Place sprouts, cut side down, in pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until sprouts are softened. Remove pan from heat, add a few pats of butter (it is a holiday, after all) and serve warm. It's really important to make sure the oil is kind of hot before you put the sprouts in it, otherwise they absorb a lot of the oil while it's heating and end up being greasy. You can put roasted chestnuts into this dish (and/or the stuffing). It seems to make it more festive.

                              Making your own cranberry relish out of fresh cranberries is a good idea, too (someone else suggested it). I have friends that put the leftover relish on turkey sandwiches (made from leftover turkey, of course). I use it in muffins for breakfast or stir it into oatmeal while it cooks.

                              Finally, remember that holidays are about getting together with friends and family. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being thankful for what we have. If you can't afford to make or buy a specific dish, replace it with something cheaper or just skip it. I'm sure you'll have enough food to feed everyone and if a particular dish is that important to someone ask them to bring the dish (or the ingredients). These people are your family, they should understand that your budget has limitations and you will do the best that you can, so don't sweat it. Besides, what's the worst that can happen? They think you blew it, so from then on you have to be the invited guest who doesn't have to prepare the meal, clean up the mess, entertain out of town guests, etc. How awful!

                              I hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving!

                              Leah

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