AVONMOM’S THANKSGIVING ON A BUDGET TIPS

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AvonMom’s Thanksgiving on a Budget Tips

Growing up, the holidays were always my favorite time of year because it was filled with traditions, family and fun such as dancing to Christmas songs on Christmas Eve with my grandfather and being apart of my grandmother’s holiday gatherings as her little helper. So, when I had started my own family, I looked forward to sharing some of my favorite traditions with my children. So when the opportunity presented itself, I obviously snatched up hostess duty for Thanksgiving the first chance I got. I am happy to share with you how I’ve learned to host a Thanksgiving dinner that will have your guests unbuckling the pants from overstuffed bellies without breaking the bank in the process along with some of my favorite recipes.

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Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget Tips

Holiday seasons are a great time to get those you care about together and to enjoy one another. However, hosting a holiday can be stressful, especially if you are a perfectionist like me.

Plan It Out

Though I get teased about this all the time with my family & friends, but I am telling you, planning out your Thanksgiving dinner is going to not only help you save money, but it also will save you many, many headaches.

Image result for thanksgiving shopping list

What I mean by planning out your Thanksgiving dinner, I am talking about:

  • Determining what your budget is
  • List of what dishes you will be making along with ALL of the ingredients you will need to make each dish.
  • Shopping list of any ingredients, decorations and anything else you may need to cook and serve your dinner.
  • Plan on when you are shopping, preparing and cooking

I personally start shopping and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner a month a head of time. This allows me to be able to get items (other than produce) at the cheapest price and not have such a big hit all at once. I am a single mom now of 4 boys and when I was married, we had 6 kids… so our weekly grocery total was a good amount alone, never mind adding a big dinner like Thanksgiving.

TIP: Make sure to stick to your plan and to your lists… adding things to what you have planned is just going to lead to you getting overwhelmed, spending more than you budgeted or both.

Accept Others Help

One of my few faults is that I am now one who likes to ask for help. But this is not a way to go. There is nothing wrong in asking and accepting help from others- whether it’s a guest bringing a pie or borrowing a roasting pan to cook the turkey Whatever it may be, having help is only going to make your Thanksgiving be less stressful and more enjoyable.

TIP: Have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner! Assign or ask your guest to bring one dish or dessert. Hey it’s one less thing you have to make and spend money on!

I never realized how helpful I was to my grandmother when I helped her getting ready for Thanksgiving growing up until I hosted my own. Having a helper will well… help. You will be able to get things done in a timely manner, not feel overwhelmed and if it’s one of your children (or grandchildren like I was), it’s actually a great way to bond with him/her.

Don’t Be a Store Snob

It’s not uncommon to see luxury cars in Aldi’s parking lots — a detail even a top Walmart executive has noted.

Since I was a young mother, I was always one who looked for best value to feed my large family. So of course I took my experience of serving 6 growing children to shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. One thing I did learn is that you can find some amazing deals that taste just as good from discounted grocery stores like Aldi’s or Price Rite. I’m not joking! I’ve even had the cashiers at these stores be in shock with how much food I get for the total price I pay. And guess what, when I go home and make it… EVERYONE STILL LOVED MY COOKING! They didn’t care if it was name brand or bought from a big chain grocery store. They only cared that it tasted good and it filled them up!

TIP: Your local dollar store is a great place to find table decorations, tupperware for leftovers and other non-food essentials you may need.

Homemade is the Way to Go

Another thing I have learned with feeding a big family is that in the long run, homemade or “fresh” ingredients will actually cost you less than buying pre-made or boxed dishes. I understand this may be freaking you out if you aren’t confident in the kitchen or don’t think you will have the time but this blog is about staying on budget. Cooking from as many fresh ingredients as possible, is the cheapest way to go… such as a 5lb bag of potatoes will cost you a couple dollars vs buying a bunch of boxed mashed potatoes to get the same amount.

Image result for homemade quotes

TIP: When making home made dishes for such a big meal like Thanksgiving, it is helpful to make dishes that you can the day before. All you’ll have to do day of is pop it in the oven to warm up before it’s time to eat.

Don’t get me wrong though, there are a few items that I do use pre-made/boxed. For example, my family only will do canned Cranberry Sauce and though I have a great recipe below for stuffing that I can’t wait to cook this year, in the past, I always used boxed stuffing.

Don’t Go Overboard with the Star of the Day

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is usually the “Star of the Day”. But just because it’s the main course, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a big chunk of your budget on it. Don’t be afraid to check out the sales, even weeks before Thanksgiving. And FYI… you don’t need to get the biggest bird of the bunch. They say to estimate about 1 1/2 lbs per person.

I recommend though to consider who your guests are… Are there any young children or vegetarians who most likely won’t eat any if at all? Are there guests that aren’t big turkey eaters or are they? No sense in overdoing it, especially if your family are not big leftover eaters.

TIP: Did you know that you don’t actually have to get a whole turkey? You can actually just buy parts of the turkey and plate it as you normally would.

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Thanksgiving Recipes

Below are easy to do recipes that I had or will use for my Thanksgiving dinner:

Stuffed Celery Sticks

This is an appetizer I serve in memory of being my grandmother’s Thanksgiving helper. I remember stuffing the celery almost every year growing up!

Ingredients:

  • Celery stalks, cut into about 2″ (I use the rest of celery not used in any other recipes)
  • 1 package (8 oz) of Cream Cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Green Olives, cut up into small pieces
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Paprika

Instructions:

  1. Mix Cream Cheese, Green Olives and Salt & Pepper in bowl.
  2. Use a butter knife to add Cream Cheese mixture down each Celery’s center indentation.
  3. Place Stuffed Celery’s onto plate. Sprinkle Paprika all on top.
  4. Cover & refrigerate until ready to serve.

Memere’s Relish Tray

Another staple in my Memere’s (French word for grandma) and my Thanksgiving meals was a Relish Tray. Another dish I helped out with growing up.

Ingredients:

  • Black Olives
  • Green Olives
  • Bread & Butter Pickles, sliced
  • Kosher Dill Baby Whole Pickles
  • Kosher Dill Spears

Instructions:

  1. Place each item onto an appetizer dish
  2. Cover & refrigerate until ready to serve

What I love about this dish is that many of the ingredients you all ready have in your fridge or pantry and there are different variations you can do with this dish. Click Here for ideas on what you can put in your relish tray.

Roasted Turkey

This is how I make my Turkey every Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:

  • Turkey (10-12lb)
  • 1 Stick of Butter (melted)
  • 1 Onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 to 2 Celery, sliced
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Oregano

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
  2. Take giblets out of turkey, cut off excess fat and wash turkey. Paper towel dry turkey.
  3. Add 1 tsp of Minced Garlic to 1 stick of melted Butter and then brush all around and inside the turkey.
  4. Add Salt & Pepper and rest of seasonings all around & inside the turkey to taste .
  5. Place sliced Onions and Celery inside the turkey.
  6. Tie legs together and tuck wing tips under the body. Tip body slightly so juices will run into pan.
  7. Cover turkey with aluminum foil leaving space around the turkey (similar to a tent around the turkey).
  8. Place in oven for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until it reaches 160º. Every hour, pour juices from pan onto turkey and cover back up. Rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound. 
  9. Take turkey out of oven and let sit for about 20-30 minutes before uncovering & cutting it up.

For tips on how to carve your turkey, check out kitchn‘s step by step guide and how to video at How to Carve a Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Way

Classic Sage & Onion Bread Dressing a.k.a. Stuffing

This is a new recipe that I’ve discovered while researching for this blog and I’m very excited to try it out this year

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf Rustic White Bread (16 -18 oz), cut into 1″ cubes
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter + 2 tbsp melted
  • 1 lb Yellow Onions, diced
  • 4 large stalks of Celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Fresh Sage leaves
  • Leaves from 4 Fresh Thyme Sprigs`
  • 2 cups low-sodium Turkey, Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 225º F.
  2. Spread the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 90 minutes or until really crisp, stirring every 30 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ or 3 Qt baking dish.
  4. Melt the 4 tbsp Butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add Onions, Celery & Garlic into skillet, stirring frequently. Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
  6. Stir in Sage & Thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Place the Broth, Eggs, Salt & Pepper in medium bowl and whisk to combine, set aside.
  8. Add the Toasted Bread cubes & Onion mixture into a large bowl & fold to combine.  Drizzle egg mixture into bowl & fold until evenly moistened.
  9. Transfer to the prepared baking dish & spread into an even layer.
  10. Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp of melted butter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. (You can refrigerate up to 24 hours- a great dish to make night before)

For complete instructions and tips on how to make this dish from kitchn‘s Faith Durand, click here.

Sauteed Green Beans

I love this dish because it is super easy to do and super quick. My Memere usually made a green bean casserole but I decided to do a simpler green bean dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 lb fresh Green Beans, ends snapped off
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add Oil and Green Beans. Cook, tossing occasionally for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add Garlic & Mix in with Green Beans. Cook for about another minute.
  3. Remove from heat & toss with Salt.

For complete instructions and tips on how to make this dish from The Endless Meal, click here.

Sauteed Carrots

I will admit I only make this dish because this was my favorite dish growing up. Though my family are not big carrot eaters, they do eat this dish right up and it’s easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of carrots, peeled and cut into ¼” slices
  • 4-5 Celery stalks, cut into ¼” slices
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley

Instructions:

  1. Add Butter to large sauteed pan and melt around bottom of pan.
  2. Add Carrots, Celery, Onion, Salt & Pepper and Water. Cover and cook over low-medium heat until you can stick fork into carrots.
  3. Put into serving bowl and coat top with parsley and sprinkle Salt & Pepper (if desired).

Another popular, easy to do Thanksgiving carrot dish is Glazed Carrots. Click Here for a Glazed Carrots recipe from Dinner at the Zoo.

Chocolate Cream Pie

This is how I make my chocolate cream pie… it’s simple and a dish you can make the night before. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made 8″ to 9″ Pie Crust
  • 1-2 boxes of Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 8 oz of Whip Cream
  • ¼ cup Chocolate Shavings

Instructions:

  1. Prepare Pudding according to package instructions.
  2. Pour Pudding into Pie Crust evenly.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Add Whipped Cream topping and Chocolate Shavings as garnish right before you serve.

Make homemade whipped cream with just 3 ingredients! Learn how with tips from Holly of Spend with Pennies by Clicking Here.

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References: More Tips, Recipes and Ideas

Below is a list of websites I found/used in this blog and you can use for more tips, recipes and ideas to help you host your Thanksgiving dinner.

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In Conclusion

Image result for happy thanksgiving

I absolutely love the holiday season and for me, Thanksgiving is when it begins. Having the opportunity to be the one who gets everyone into the holiday spirit, I feel is an honor. As they say… “Good Food, Good Friends, Good Times” and to me that is what the holiday season is all about. I wish you luck and hope you & your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

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