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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Green Vegetables

By Erin at

Each of these green vegetable dishes are not only healthy and lower in
calories than a traditional casserole, they won't take up any space in
the oven. Each vegetable can be prepared on the stove top and won't
need any of that precious "Thanksgiving morning oven time"!


Green Beans and Garlic
2 lb. fresh green beans
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Snap or cut the stems off the green beans. Rinse well and pat dry.


Place oil in skillet and set heat to medium-high. Add green beans and garlic slices. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until green beans turn a brighter green. Serves 8-12. Cost: approximately $4

Sauteed Asparagus
2 lb. fresh asparagus
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Snap the ends off the asparagus. Hold each end of the asparagus and push ends together away from you. Allow the asparagus to "naturally" snap. Rinse and pat dry. About 15 minutes before sautéing the asparagus, drizzle oil over the asparagus and let sit. Saute asparagus with olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet for 4-5 minutes. The asparagus will turn brighter green. It is ready to serve! Serves 8-12. Cost: $3.50


Lemon Broccoli
8-12 heads of broccoli

Steam broccoli in steamer for 3-5 minutes. Slice fresh lemon into 6-8 wedges. Serve lemon wedges next to broccoli and suggest that guests squeeze lemon over their broccoli. Serves 8-12. Cost: approximately $6


What are your favorite vegetables to serve at Thanksgiving? The traditional green bean casserole or something else? I'd love to hear!

Up Next: Our Favorite Roll Recipe

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Note from Crystal: For the record, cranberry sauce would also be an area my minimalistic nature would nix. (I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking you'd never want to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at my house by now, seeing as I already said I think stuffing is a non-essential, too!)

However, I know that to many of you, Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. And so I present Erin's Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce:

Homemade Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
by Erin at

This sauce costs approximately $1.50 to make one batch. Not only is it fairly frugal but it' also doesn't contains any preservatives or additives!


1 lb. fresh cranberries (these are on sale at Aldi this week for $0.99!)
1 orange, juiced
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
¼ cup sugar

Rinse cranberries. Pick out any cranberries that are white in color or have "gushy" spots. Place cranberries in sauce pan with 2 inches of water, or apple juice. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. While boiling, add the juice from one orange. I squeeze it over a strainer to prevent seeds from dropping into the sauce. Add 1 teaspoon orange zest to the sauce. Cranberries will "pop" while boiling!


Add ¼ cup sugar to the cranberries. Alternative sweeteners include apple juice concentrate, orange juice (from a sweet orange), honey, Stevia or Splenda. Add more sweetener for sweeter sauce, or less sweetener for a more tart sauce. Add ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground ginger. Allow sauce to sit for at least 10 minutes to "thicken" a bit more.

Other mix-in ideas: fresh apples, cooked with the sauce, or raw for some crunchiness; walnuts, pecans or other nuts; crushed Pineapple.


Just for fun: Do you usually serve cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving dinner? If so, do you normally serve homemade or store bought?

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Sweet Potato Casserole and Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

If you've never had this sweet potato casserole before, let me tell you,
you're in for a treat. Even if you don't normally like sweet potatoes,
you'll want to try this because I'm guessing this is one sweet potato
dish you will eat and like.

Best of all, it's simple and fairly economical–especially if you
can snag a deal on sweet potatoes. (By the way, Aldi has them on sale
this week at $0.99 for three pounds so you should go scoop some up
there if you have an Aldi store close by!)


Our Sweet Potato Casserole

4 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cups milk
6 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
chopped pecans, optional

Mix first six ingredients together and spread in a 9×13-inch dish. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes approximately 10 servings. This can be made the day before Thanksgiving and kept in the refrigerator and baked on Thanksgiving morning.


Our Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

15 small to medium potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sour cream (can use plain yogurt)
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cut and boil potatoes leaving the skins on (unless you prefer them skinless). Use mixer, Bosch, food processor, or KitchenAid to mash potatoes and add in the rest of the ingredients. Place potato mixer in a slightly greased 9×13-inch. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes approximately 8 servings.

These potatoes can be made the day before Thanksgiving and kept in the refrigerator and baked on Thanksgiving morning. Or, if you're really brave, you might try .

Up Next: recipe for Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce and her recipe for some easy green veggies for a healthful side.

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Turkey, Gravy, and Stuffing

While all of the other recipes we actually made ahead of time so we could share pictures along with the recipes, and I decided against actually making a turkey ahead of time. However, we wanted to share some great links we found to help you in making your turkey and also some ideas and suggestions for getting a great deal on a turkey.

Buying a Turkey

Most stores are running sales on turkeys right now so it's a great time to buy turkey. The rule of thumb is to buy a bird that is as many pounds of meat as persons you are expecting to be at your Thanksgiving meal. So if you're planning to have 15 people at your Thanksgiving dinner, you'll want to buy a turkey that is somewhere around 15 pounds. I'm sure you could squeak by with a few pounds less, though, without anyone noticing.

Check around to all stores in your area before buying to see which store has the best deal. Many stores also offer a discount or even a free turkey if you spend a certain amount in one transaction the week of Thanksgiving or the week before Thanksgiving. These deals are great to take advantage of, provided you will actually already be spending that amount of money.

Cooking a Turkey

There's a great step-by-step photo tutorial from The Pioneer Woman on roasting a turkey. And lots of helpful information on roasting a turkey from Butterball–and there's even an instructional video you can watch.

If you're having a smaller gathering for Thanksgiving and want to keep it simple, you might consider just doing turkey breasts in the crock pot. Click for detailed instructions on how to do that.

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary to do with your turkey? You could consider or .

Making the Gravy

You can make gravy with the pan drippings (see recipe ) or with the giblets (see recipe). If you've never made gravy before, check out The Pioneer Woman's photo-rich instructions .

Stuffing: Do You Really Need It?

Okay folks, here's where my simplistic nature comes into play: I don't really think stuffing is a must. I mean sure, most folks serve it as a sort of obligatory part of the Thanksgiving dinner every year, but if you're trying to keep things easy, it is something you could skip.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking I'm nuts. If so and stuffing is something your Thanksgiving menu would not be complete without, then by all means go for it. I'd say to save yourself the trouble of actually and to just make a pan of it on the side. Use your family's favorite recipe (if you have one), find the boxed mixes on sale and spruce them up a little, or try out The Pioneer Woman's recipe (her recipe looks great but isn't very budget conscious).

I'd love to hear from you: What are your best ideas for buying an economical turkey? How do you usually cook your turkey? And do you consider stuffing an essential Thanksgiving menu item?

Up next: Our Sweet Potato casserole and Make-Ahead mashed potatoes

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Introduction

Remember I told you that Erin from and I had a special treat for you this week? Well, welcome to our week-long series, Thanksgiving on a Budget.

There is great temptation to feel like you have to prepare a ten-course gourmet feast for your loved ones for Thanksgiving. It seems almost everywhere you go right now, you are bombarded with images of elaborate spreads of gorgeous stuffed turkeys lined with rosemary and oranges surrounded by all the trimmings.

While these images might be beautiful, more often than not they can make you feel that unless you recreate such an extravagant affair for your Thanksgiving feast, it just won't be good enough. The reality, though, is that most of us do not have the time or the money to pull off a magazine-like Thanksgiving spread.

And we're here to tell you that that is perfectly okay. In fact, we'd like to encourage you to make your Thanksgiving celebrations simple and economical this year. Erin from and I will be teaming up to share some of our favorite frugal Thanksgiving recipes. Whether you're an experienced cook or a novice in the kitchen, we hope that our recipes, tips, and photo tutorials will inspire you to pull off your own "Thanksgiving on a Budget".

We've also solicited the help of Monica from for some inexpensive Thanksgiving decoration ideas which you'll not want to miss. And after we've shared our favorite recipes, we're going to be enlisting your help on Friday.

We'll open up the floor here with a Mr. Linky and encourage you to post your favorite frugal Thanksgiving recipes or ideas on your blog and then come back here to share your link with everyone else. We look forward to reading all your frugal recipes, tips and ideas for
making this Thanksgiving both frugal and festive! 

It is our desire that this series will help relieve some of the "pressure" that is placed on you to create
the perfect meal on Thanksgiving Day. And we hope you are able to instead focus more on what Thanksgiving is really all about–taking time to give thanks for all of the blessings we have been given!


Note from Crystal: By the way, if you are not a regular reader of Erin's blog, , may I encourage you to and add her feed to your reader?

Erin feeds her family of four every night for, you guessed it, $5! And her recipes are not only simple and delicious, they are also quite healthful. Her menus serve to clearly dispel the myth that you can't feed your family healthfully on a budget. Read more about Erin and how she feeds her family for $5 every night.

Gifts from your kitchen

Cookie mix-jar

Looking for a homemade gift to give this Christmas season? Whole Foods has a great listing of recipes complete with gift tags you will want to check out .

Thanks, !

See more homemade gift ideas and here.