Posts Tagged ‘frugal Thanksgiving meal’

Simple Foods Save Valuable Time – Frugal Challenge

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Thanksgiving TableSaving time is just as important as saving money.  After all, time is money, right?

Standing over a hot stove all day to prepare a Thanksgiving meal may not appeal to you and it certainly is not saving you any time.  It may not even be possible if you have a busy schedule, perhaps have to go to work on Thanksgiving, or have other reasons that you need a menu that doesn’t involve hours of preparation and hard work.

A Thanksgiving menu can be very simple as long as you include a few traditional dishes from year to year.  Most folks don’t care if you aren’t serving the fanciest fare, as long as it’s memorable.  I’ll share a few wonderfully delicious, but simple foods that are easy to make with memorable results.

Turkey – The first, of course, is turkey.  Turkey is very inexpensive and really simple to make.  It’s no different than roasting a chicken.  The problem most people run into is the thawing time.  You can speed up the thawing process by letting the bird rest in a sink full of cold water.  It will usually thaw out overnight that way without the risk of becoming too warm.  Then roast according to instructions on the turkey packaging.  You handle it very little after that.

Green Bean Casserole – A traditional favorite in many homes and so very simple to make.  Use frozen green beans and don’t even bother cooking them if you don’t want.  Just throw them into a big bowl with all the other ingredients, mix well, and dump into a casserole dish.  My dinner guests look forward to this every year and it’s such a simple dish to make.

Cranberry Orange Relish – This is one of those dishes that everyone raves about, but no one suspects how simple it is.  Just wash a package of fresh cranberries and throw them in the food processor.  Then scrub a seedless orange and cut it into small chunks, skin and all.  Throw that in as well and start pulsing the food processor.  Sprinkle in a bit of sugar if it’s too tart.  Don’t let the relish get mushy; just nice small chunks.  Voila!  A sweet and tangy relish that’s delicious and beautiful… oh, yes, and did I mention easy?

Forget the Pies – If time is really working against your dinner plans, pies should be the first thing to go.  However, you want something to replace them.  How about some little individual pie-like desserts?  Buy pre-made pie crusts, cut them into circles that fit inside a muffin tin, and fill them with either diced apple with a little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled in, or any pie filling.  They’re simple, pretty, and are just as satisfying as a piece of pie… especially with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

These are all pretty classic Thanksgiving dishes that all look more complicated than they really are.  Simplify your Thanksgiving meal preparation this year to save yourself some time.  Then, take that time to enjoy your family and friends!  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

p.s.  If you really want to save time in the kitchen, pick out a dish that you can make in the crock pot.  Click here to get an idea or two for a time-saving recipe your family will love!  Or check out even more Holiday Meal Recipes you can turn into your own new family favorites.

p.p.s.   Check out the all new  Crock Pot Cooking Made Simple for even more crock pot cooking tips and recipes.

Holiday Meals Stretched To Fit Your Budget – Frugal Challenge

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Thanksgiving TableWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, I seem to be focused on cooking.  I’m gathering my favorite recipes and looking for some new ones that could become family favorites.  One of the challenges for many families, especially this year, is creating a feast on a limited budget.  Even though turkey prices are usually reasonable, like most families, I’m looking at a variety of side dishes to round out the table and fill up our tummies.

Last week I talked about making dishes that are more creative for your guests who are vegetarian.  If you’d like to read about serving beautiful meatless main dishes, click here.

The same theory applies to the side dishes served with a turkey as the centerpiece of your meal.  Just because you’re looking for frugal dishes to make doesn’t mean those dishes have to be sparse looking or tasting.

What are some of the classic side dishes you enjoy at Thanksgiving time?  If the famous Green Bean Casserole is on your menu, you’re in luck.  There are many variations to this dish that will spruce it up a bit, making it more of a centerpiece in the meal.  Add extra crunch with water chestnuts or almonds.  Spice it up a little more with a dash of soy sauce.  You could stretch this classic dish out a little further by adding flavored croutons to give it more of a casserole appearance and texture and less of a green bean side dish.  Think of your Green Bean Casserole as more than a side dish – think of it as a guest of honor on your table.

Don’t forget to make extra stuffing when you stuff the bird.  A bit of extra stuffing cooked in a casserole dish adds a lot more mileage to your feast.  Kids especially will love filling up on this inexpensive side dish.  Pass some more gravy and you’ve got another full plate, and full tummy!

And, what about those mashed potatoes?  They’re yummy with just a bit of gravy, true, but you could turn them into a glorious creamy casserole instead.  By whipping in some sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, half-and-half, some chives, or whatever else you can think of.  Your once plain ol’ mashed potatoes are now ready for their close-up!  These potatoes take center stage on any holiday table when topped off with a little butter and a sprinkle of paprika.

Serving dinner rolls to help stretch your food budget is smart, but putting cranberry muffins or pumpkin muffins on your table is even better.  I know many people who will pass up a regular dinner roll but will help themselves to a couple flavorful muffins when they are passed around the table.  Muffins are easy and inexpensive to make and will stretch your food budget without anyone noticing – or caring!

Pumpkin pie is a classic, but you really can’t stretch it very far.  If your dinner guests are dessert fanatics, try a pumpkin cake in addition to your pumpkin pie.  You can serve quite a few people with one cake, stretching that food budget even further.

When you plan your Thanksgiving or other holiday meal, keep in mind that you can stretch your budget by serving side dishes that are economical, but more importantly, that are a feast for the eye and the tummy!  If your guests can’t resist helping themselves to more of your side dishes, you will accomplish what you set out to do – serve a glorious and plentiful meal at an affordable cost.  And that’s something to be thankful for!

p.s.  If you are looking for a recipe for a perfectly roasted turkey click here.

p.p.s.  You may want to review a whole list of recipes to find even more side dishes to stretch your holiday food budget.  Just click here for some tasty holiday recipes that could become your new family favorites.