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Old 11-13-2017, 11:01 AM
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Default Serving Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ad...ner-2017-11-13


Advice for serving up a budget-friendly Thanksgiving dinner

Published: Nov 13, 2017 10:17 a.m. ET

“The goal of Thanksgiving is to feed your family and be thankful together,” says Hali Bey Ramdene, food editor for The Kitchn.

By

Laura
McMullen

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can feel like a thankless job if you’ve destroyed your budget to do so. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By setting realistic expectations, shopping strategically and delegating tasks, this can be an affordable meal to prepare. Here’s how to pull it off:

1. Stick to the basics

First, drop the “Pinterest fantasy,” says Hali Bey Ramdene, food editor for The Kitchn. Your sanity and wallet will take a hit if you attempt the pear sangria and the sweet potato and Brussels sprout okonomiyaki and the apple-pecan pumpkin Bundt cake. Oh, and the turkey.

Use Pinterest and other social media sites as inspiration, not as a barometer of success. If you want to attempt a challenging dish, go for it. Otherwise, take advantage of the affordability of the Thanksgiving basics: turkey, potatoes and other vegetables.

Ramdene also points out that you probably don’t need a dozen appetizers and side dishes. “Think of the plate,” she says. A dish with just the essentials is a feast, when you consider a couple of slices of turkey, along with stuffing, potatoes and cranberry sauce. Would your guests even have room for the fancy Bundt cake?

2. Play down social media

Just as Pinterest can set unrealistic expectations while you’re planning the meal, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat can up the ante come dinnertime. “Before, you just had dinner with your people. You fed them, and it was wonderful,” Ramdene says. “Now those people are taking photos of every single thing and narrating the dinner.”

Ramdene suggests gently asking guests to not use their phones at the dinner table. That way, they’re more present to exchange real-life experiences rather than Instagram stories. “The goal of Thanksgiving is to feed your family and be thankful together,” Ramdene says, “even if your potatoes don’t really look good with the Lark filter on them.”

3. Rethink the turkey

Look at your guest list and ask yourself if you really need to roast and serve a whole turkey. That’s a lot of food and a lot of work.

Instead, consider serving just a turkey breast. That’s what Katie Moseman, owner of the blog Recipe for Perfection, has done for the past three years. Moseman says a turkey breast is cheaper than a whole turkey and much easier to cook. Plus, it’s still tasty and attractive, with a “beautiful caramel brown exterior,” she says.

Worried about bucking tradition? “You’d have to have pretty fussy guests to complain,” Moseman says. “The carving the turkey on the table thing really only happens on TV.” As Ramdene puts it: “This is not a Norman Rockwell painting.”

If you’re feeding many guests and want to roast the whole bird, you’ll encounter a range of price tags and types. The Kitchn’s guide to buying a turkey may help you find one that fits your budget.

4. Shop wisely

That means starting now. Moseman scouts online and paper flyers of local stores and compares prices for the ingredients she’ll need. “A lot of times, the best deals won’t be found all at one store,” she says. So if you’re truly looking for the best bargain on each item, you’ll likely have to make a few stops.

As you create your “plan of attack,” as Moseman calls it, consider the value of your time, too. The grocery across town may sell pumpkin pies that are 80 cents cheaper than those at your neighborhood store, for example, but is that worth a 30-minute drive?

5. Enlist help

“Cooking Thanksgiving dinner by yourself is a falsehood,” Ramdene says. Save yourself stress and money by having guests bring dishes or beverages to share.

Ask guests with food intolerances or allergies to bring a side dish that’s safe for them to eat. That way, you’re not shelling out for specialized ingredients or sweating over a tailored dish, Moseman says.

Specify requests for other guests, too. “Don’t just tell guests to ‘bring whatever,’” Ramdene says. “If you decide to host, you’re like a taskmaster.” Ask for a dessert to share, for example, or a hot appetizer.

Chances are your guests will appreciate a chance to contribute during the giving season. “People like to show up and bring their best dish,” Moseman says. “It takes pressure off the host, it costs less, and they’re happy to say, ‘Here’s something amazing I cooked. Please compliment me.”
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:12 AM
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Great advice.

We've done a couple years with just a simple turkey breast, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce (way better than anything from a can), carrots & green beans, and some bread/rolls. Other years, I've made a full feast for 20-25 people. Last year was the former. This year will be the latter (and a reunion with my father's family). Both can be very enjoyable. But realistically, going small is way easier, and if you're only doing it for your own family, it doesn't take much to satisfy such a small group.
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Old 11-15-2017, 06:03 AM
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We have been considering ordering Chinese. Haha. It is only the two of us and the dog so cooking a big meal isn't really necessary (though we haven't ruled it out because... well, leftovers).

Anyone else considering a non-traditional meal?
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Old 11-15-2017, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by amastewa93 View Post
We have been considering ordering Chinese. Haha. It is only the two of us and the dog so cooking a big meal isn't really necessary (though we haven't ruled it out because... well, leftovers).

Anyone else considering a non-traditional meal?
No, because we spend the day with extended (large) family. But, I've absolutely never done/had a traditional Christmas meal. We tend to order out for Christmas. We had a Thai food tradition for a while.
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Old 11-15-2017, 01:52 PM
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Quote:

First, drop the “Pinterest fantasy,” says Hali Bey Ramdene...
NEVER!!!!!! I even make my own turkey frills!

I also disagree about buying a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. I can buy whole turkeys for 69 cents per pound. Turkey breast is almost $4 per pound here. I save the bones for stock and freeze the leftovers, which you don't have with just a breast. Plus, they are no more work to cook than a breast, too. Season it and throw it in the oven. I don't even baste mine.

We were getting sick of the same old food yet some people actually threw hissy fits when things like Stove Top stuffing were swapped with homemade. So now we still offer the same things but add one new food. Sometimes the new food will stick in the rotation, like when I made what we call Thai deviled eggs instead of regular. This year, I'm making my cranberry relish with Buddha's Hand citron instead of oranges, but I still have to make the regular stuff because two people look forward to it all year. I was so looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving this year, but we are winding up at my sister's house and she orders pre-cooked food. It just isn't as good as mine.
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Old 11-15-2017, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msomnipotent View Post
NEVER!!!!!! I even make my own turkey frills!

I also disagree about buying a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. I can buy whole turkeys for 69 cents per pound. Turkey breast is almost $4 per pound here. I save the bones for stock and freeze the leftovers, which you don't have with just a breast. Plus, they are no more work to cook than a breast, too. Season it and throw it in the oven. I don't even baste mine.

We were getting sick of the same old food yet some people actually threw hissy fits when things like Stove Top stuffing were swapped with homemade. So now we still offer the same things but add one new food. Sometimes the new food will stick in the rotation, like when I made what we call Thai deviled eggs instead of regular. This year, I'm making my cranberry relish with Buddha's Hand citron instead of oranges, but I still have to make the regular stuff because two people look forward to it all year. I was so looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving this year, but we are winding up at my sister's house and she orders pre-cooked food. It just isn't as good as mine.
Whats wrong with stovetop? It's really inexpensive and it tastes good.
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Old 11-15-2017, 09:41 PM
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Stovetop is gross mush compared to my awesome stuffing. Case closed!
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Old 11-18-2017, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bjl584 View Post
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ad...ner-2017-11-13

sweet potato and Brussels sprout okonomiyaki
Is this a real thing? I'll have to look! That could be a whole meal. It sounds good.
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Old 11-18-2017, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by james.hendrickson View Post
Whats wrong with stovetop? It's really inexpensive and it tastes good.
There's nothing wrong with Stovetop. It's cheap and easy and gets the job done. But I think of it as kind of a "plate filler" (placeholder where the stuffing goes) and nutritional value is a bit suspect. If you like it and it's just a small side, great!

Since stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving side, and I make it a "main course" (with veggies) when having leftovers, I'd rather make homemade on the rare occasions I'm hosting, even if my personal favorite recipe takes quite a bit more time, effort, and advance planning than Stovetop.
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