Budget-Friendly and Time-Conscious Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes
Thanksgiving is an exciting time to eat some of our favorite holiday foods. We could go on and on about Thanksgiving fare, but the reality is that making too many dishes can be stressful! Check out the following tips to spend less time and money in the kitchen.
- Keep it simple by focusing on favorites – choose your favorite 2 vegetable sides & 1-2 starchy side dishes to make and enjoy without going overboard. You can make other dishes any day of the year without the pressure of the big day!
- Make only what you will need – Thanksgiving leftovers are great, but buying too much can put you over budget and creates waste.
- Basic is best – Often our favorite recipes are the most simple. Choose recipes without extra ingredients. This saves time shopping AND in the kitchen. Making dishes from scratch is often less expensive too.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, thinking ahead can save the day!
Giving ourselves time to decide what’s really important minimizes holiday stress. Prioritizing can keep us focused and on-track to stay within budget and to make healthier choices.
- Prioritize only a few of your “Must-Have” favorite dishes and choose recipes in advance. You can make other dishes any day of the year.
- Purchase November’s in-season produce while it’s at the lowest price and its peak of freshness (winter squashes, collards, cabbage, sweet potato, kale, carrots, apples, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cranberries etc.)
- Make it ahead. Schedule a prep day where you can get some foods done in advance. Many can be stored in the freezer for weeks and just need to be reheated (soup, casseroles, pie, etc.)
- Use a slow cooker if you have one. Many recipes can be adapted to be made in a slow cooker. It takes up little space and reduces your active cooking time.
- Poultry swap. Turkey is often the most expensive item at Thanksgiving. Cut the cost by:
- Purchasing store-brand turkey
- Choosing a smaller bird and focus on the side dishes
- Substituting chicken and prepare it with the same care you would for a turkey
- Buying turkey pieces instead of the whole bird
Roasted Turkey Breast
For when you don’t want to cook a whole bird (try it with chicken!)
- 5 lbs Turkey Breast, bone in & skin on
- 2 tbsp Butter, softened
- 2 large Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp Rosemary
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Salt
- Black Pepper, to taste
- 3 cups Water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, add softened butter, garlic, rosemary, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Rub turkey breast with seasoned butter all around, starting from the bottom with bone side.
Place turkey breast side up on a rack and then put rack inside the baking dish. Pour water into the pan underneath the turkey.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes on a bottom rack.
- Loosely cover with foil and bake for 70-80 minutes more or until internal temperature in the deepest part of meat reaches 150 – 155 degrees F.
For a more naturally sweetened sauce
12 oz Cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup or Honey
1/4 Cup Orange Juice (use zest of oranges if fresh)
1/8 tsp Vanilla (optional)
1/8 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
- Add cranberries, syrup or honey, and orange juice to a pot.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 more minutes.
- Remove lid and add vanilla & cinnamon (optional). Stir and cook for another 3 minutes or until cranberries are broken down and the sauce has thickened.
Thanksgiving Stuffed Acorn Squash
For a new dish to serve featuring seasonal vegetables.
For the Squash
3 Acorn Squash, small
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
For the Stuffing
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 lb Lean Turkey, ground
- 3 Cups spinach/kale, chopped
- 2 tsp Dried Rosemary
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Hard Cheese & Parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (save them to toast later)
- Place squash cut side up on a large baking sheet. Brush with 1 tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Place a large skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add oil onion and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add turkey and cook for another 7-8 minutes while mixing and breaking up the meat.
- Add remaining ingredients. Mix together and cook for another few minutes.
- After the squash have roasted for 30 minutes, remove them from the oven. Carefully stuff the centers with the stuffing & sprinkle on cheese (optional).
- Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake another 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
Toasted Acorn Squash Seeds
For a crunchy & salty snack while waiting for dinner.
Acorn Squash Seeds
Oil of your choosing, enough to lightly coat
Salt, to taste
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with foil.
- Remove squash pulp from seeds as best as possible.
- In a bowl, drizzle oil onto the seeds to lightly coat. Add salt and mix.
- Spread the seeds on your baking sheet in a single layer and place into the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing the seeds with a spatula once or twice during the cooking time.
- Remove once they are golden and fragrant.
Garlic Green Beans
For a deliciously simple vegetable side dish.
1.5 lbs Fresh Green Beans, ends trimmed
3 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat.
- Add green beans and 3 tbsp water. Cover and cook for 4 minutes.
- Remove the lid and if there is any water left, cook green beans until water has evaporated.
- Push beans to the side. Add olive oil and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then stir with green beans. Season with salt & pepper.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
For a traditional & simple seasonal vegetable side.
2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, fresh
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Trim the ends and remove outer leaves from brussels sprouts.
- Place brussels sprouts on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Mix with hands to evenly coat with oil and seasonings. Spread into a single layer.
- Bake for 40 mins, tossing with a spatula 1-2 times after the 30 minute mark.
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
For a hassle-free slow cooker recipe (try it with sweet potatoes!)
5 lbs Potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 Cup of Lowfat or Plant-Based Milk
1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Broth
3 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Sliced Green Onions or Chives for garnish (optional)
- Place potato cubes along with milk, broth, salt, black pepper, and garlic into a slow cooker. Toss to combine.
- Cover the crock and cook for about 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
- When the potatoes are tender, mash them directly in the slow cooker to your desired consistency.
- Add yogurt and grated parmesan, and season to taste.
- Place the lid back on the crock pot and heat through for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Garnish if desired.
Seasonal Squash Soup
For a hearty seasonal soup you can make ahead (try with any winter squash!)
- 1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, & cubed (save your seeds to toast later)
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 Stalk Celery, chopped
- 1 Medium Carrot, chopped
- 32 oz Low-Sodium Broth
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- Add oil to a large soup pot. Add onion, celery, carrot and squash and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
- Carefully, transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender), and blend until smooth.
- Mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Allow soup to cool, and then pour into a freezer-safe container. Leave space at the top for expansion.
- Place in the freezer until ready to use.
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if desired. Reheat in a pot on the stove.
For a healthy dessert that highlights beautiful seasonal apples.
4 Large Apples
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar or Honey
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Whole Rolled Oats
2 Tbsp Raisins/Dried Cranberries/Chopped Nuts (optional)
- In a bowl, mash butter, sugar/honey, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg together until combined. Add raisins/dried cranberries/nuts, if using. Set aside.
- Core the apples: Use an apple corer or a sharp paring knife and a spoon. Cut around the core, about 3/4 down into the apple. Use a spoon to carefully dig out the core.
- Place cored apples in a baking pan with sides. Spoon filling into each apple p to the top.
- Pour water into the pan around the apples to cover the bottom.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until apples are to your desired softness.
- Remove apples from the oven and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Prep-Ahead Pumpkin Pie
For a traditional dessert you can make in advance
1 Store-Bought Pie Dough
3 Eggs, large
15 oz can 2 cups pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/2 cup your choice of milk
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice**
1/4 tsp salt
**Make & store your own pumpkin pie spice in a jar by mixing 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg, 1 Tbsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a medium bowl, add eggs and whisk for 30 seconds.
- Add pumpkin puree, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and whisk together.
- Pour your pie filling into pre-baked crust and bake pie for 55 minutes.
Freeze & Store…
- Let the pie cool completely.
- Wrap the pie tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap.
- Label the pie with the freeze date and place in freezer.
- Thaw overnight in refrigerator before serving.