Thanksgiving on a budget (recipes and videos inside)
JAMESTOWN -- Stacey Smith spends $100 on groceries each month and despite the expense of a grandiose Thanksgiving dinner, the wife and mother intends to stick to her budget.
Smith, of Jamestown, lives with her husband, Michael, their son, Haden, 10 months, and Michael's brother, Jonathon, 21. The four try to eat healthy -- like all-natural meats and organic baby food for Haden -- and won't compromise quality for quantity.
The foursome is celebrating Thanksgiving in Jamestown this year, and intends to serve a traditional meal with turkey, sweet potatoes, homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie. Even Haden will get to partake in the festivities -- Stacey said she'll grind up food in the food processor so he can eat with the rest of the family.
To keep their budget in check, Stacey and Michael said they keep $100 in an envelope and won't use any other money for groceries. Stacey said she plans to use coupons, watch for sales and stock up on ingredients throughout the month so she can spread out the cost.
Many families are watching their budgets like the Smith family this year as the struggling economy and rising gas and grocery costs pick the pockets of average consumers.
To curb those costs, Duane Emmel, financial counselor for the Village Family Service Center in Fargo, recommends focusing on creating memories at the holidays. Doing that doesn't require going into debt, he said, which is the No. 1 thing people should avoid.
"A lot of things we do don't have to cost a lot of money," he said.
Families of all income levels are guilty of overspending throughout the holidays, he said, and the 20 percent spike in grocery prices throughout the last two years doesn't help.
To prepare for the meal's expense, Luella Morehouse, of the North Dakota State University Extension Office for Stutsman County in Jamestown, recommends families organize their homes first.
Start with a list of all the guests and all the quantities of needed ingredients, she said. Then, clean out the family freezer, pantry and refrigerator and record what remains.
If something on the list is already on the shelf -- let's say, pumpkin spice -- then cross it off. Keep at it until all shelves are organized, she said.
Emmel, the financial counselor, agreed, saying budgeting for holidays like Thanksgiving takes a "tremendous" amount of planning.
Plan the meal in advance, he said, and stick to the list at the grocery store. Cut out unnecessary food items like dessert if the budget is really tight, he said.
Compare store ads, Morehouse said, and match coupons with the sale price. Just because you have a coupon, doesn't mean you need to use it, she said.
The Iowa State University Extension Service offers budget-friendly recipes such as a "guiltless pumpkin pie" for about $4 and a "fresh green bean sauté" for about $3.
Check out those recipes at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/efnep/web/TurkeyDinner.pdf. In fact, the site claims $30 can serve a full Thanksgiving dinner for eight guests. To adjust for the increase in prices since the site was developed, however, Morehouse suggested budgeting at least $40 to serve Thanksgiving for eight.
Ryan-Anderson is a reporter for the Jamestown Sun, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.
Looking to save on holiday groceries? Try these on-the-cheap recipes. Each recipe serves eight:
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup skim or low-fat milk
Salt and black pepper
1 whole head of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 pounds potatoes, scrubbed, peeled
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off garlic head exposing tops of the cloves. Place garlic head on a piece of aluminum foil. Pour olive oil on cut edge and sprinkle with thyme. Bunch aluminum foil around head and bake about 45 minutes.
2. Allow garlic to cool slightly, then break into cloves and squeeze each clove to remove soft garlic. Mash on a plate until creamy. Set aside.
3. Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving some of the water in a separate bowl.
4. Return potatoes to pan and add butter. Warm milk in the microwave for about 1 minute, or warm in a saucepan on top of the stove. Milk may curdle slightly, this is natural.
5. Mash with a potato masher, mixer or grind through a food mill. Add milk and garlic to potatoes. Add some of the hot potato water if potatoes are too stiff. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Total: about $3
2 tablespoon vegetable oil or pan
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the flour and stir constantly until the flour has turned dark brown. If the mixture starts to smoke, reduce the heat but continue cooking until a dark color is achieved. The flour mixture should be a tint darker than the desired color of the gravy. The browning will take about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add the broth or stock all at once and continue to stir until the mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to low, so gravy continues to simmer slowly for about 14 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add about ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Gravy will thicken as it cools.
Total: about $2
Bread Stuffing On The Side
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley,
or 1½ tablespoons dried parsley
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 cups day-old bread cubes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
1. Cook celery, onion and parsley in butter over medium heat, until vegetables are soft and tender.
2. Place bread cubes in large bowl and pour in vegetables. Add salt, pepper and broth and mix well. Place in a greased 9x9-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes. Cook until stuffing reaches 165°F.
Total: about $4
Fresh Baked Wheat Dinner Rolls
Makes 16 rolls
Two loaves frozen stoneground wheat bread dough loaves, thawed (this will take 2-3 hours on the countertop or overnight in the refrigerator)
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease or spray muffin tins.
3. With scissors or knife, cut each loaf into 24 pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into balls
with the flat of your hand.
4. Place three balls of dough in each cup of muffin tin. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Cover loosely with plastic wrap which has been sprayed with cooking spray and put in a warm place.
5. Let rolls rise to double in size, remove plastic wrap, and put them in preheated oven.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
7. Remove the rolls from pan at once and place on a wire rack to cool. Brush tops with melted butter or margarine, if desired.
Total: about $3
Guiltless Pumpkin Pie with Frozen Whipped Topping
2 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or ¾ teaspoons each ground cinnamon
and ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 5-ounce can evaporated fat free milk (about 2/3 cup)
Low-fat whipped topping and additional ground cinnamon (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
2. Place eggs in large bowl, beat with fork or whisk. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir until well mixed.
3. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie plate.
4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes - or until center is set.
5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. If desired, add a spoonful of low-fat whipped topping to each serving and sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon.
Total: about $4
Grand Total: $30.74
Source: Iowa State
University Extension Service