3 Ways to Simplify Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, overeat, and enjoy family–but it isn’t cheap. In 2020, the American Farm Bureau estimated Thanksgiving dinner was the cheapest it’s been in 35 years. Unfortunately, due to supply chain woes and lower food production during an ongoing pandemic, our 2021 holiday meal could be the most expensive ever. Luckily, there are ways to simplify Thanksgiving while saving money without sacrificing seasonal favorites.

Make a list. 

It’s easy to overspend when you guesstimate. The first list you should make is of the people who plan to come. Don’t just assume. Send an informal text, or give a quick phone call for confirmation. Of course, you’ll need to make a grocery list and stick with it, but not before you revise your menu.

Simplify side dishes. 

Turkey may get labeled as the king of Thanksgiving, but every Thanksgiving lover knows it’s the infinite side dishes that everyone anticipates. One of the easiest ways to save money is to cook fewer dishes. Set a boundary on side dishes: two vegetables, two starches, and two desserts. A 9×13 pan typically yields 8 medium-sized servings.  Go a step further and simplify ingredient-heavy casseroles.

Looking to whole food side options, you’ll decrease your budget and increase your nutrition intake. Roast fall vegetables, honey glazed carrots, or whole green beans and steamed sweet potatoes over the loaded casserole.

Bring something! 

Tis’ the year to ask, “What can I bring?” and mean it! Be kind and confirm your presence and then persist in helping with the menu. If they resist, offer to bring the bread, or dinner 3olls, along with homemade herb-infused butter (see below) for a personal twist, it is a gift the host can use all season long. If bubblies will be poured, do your part to restock the bar with a bottle of champagne or wine to leave behind. Go the extra mile, and add in a dessert or starter. Or, just simply acknowledge this year’s price crunch and insist on adding to the list of side dishes.

Incorporate these tips to keep Turkey Day 2021 from gobbling up your family or your friend’s budget.

Wholesome Sausage Stuffing Recipe 

Cheese provides extra protein in this savory and holiday-friendly sausage stuffing recipe. Filled with cranberries and apples, it’s sure to be a favorite at your table.

Ingredients

  • 3 3⁄4 cups white bread, cubed
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole-wheat bread, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 large garlic, cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 pound low-fat turkey sausage
  • 3⁄4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped
  • 3⁄4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 4 ounces Cabot 50% Reduced-Fat Cheddar (about 1 cup), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3⁄4 cup turkey stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. Spread white and whole-wheat bread cubes in single layer on large baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes or until toasted. Transfer to large bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes or until onions are golden.
  4. Add sausage, breaking up with spoon, and cook until evenly browned. Add celery, sage, rosemary and thyme; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour sausage mixture over bread cubes. Mix in apple, cranberries, parsley and cheese. Drizzle with turkey stock and toss together lightly. Let cool. Transfer to greased baking dish
  6. Increase oven temperature to 375˚ and bake covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Recipe credit: Cabot (used with permission).

 

Hot Chocolate Dip 

Who says hot chocolate is just for drinking? Enjoy this simple, not too sweet hot chocolate dip that people of all ages will enjoy. Pairs perfectly with fresh fruit or go for the sweet & salty with pretzel rods.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 packets hot chocolate mix
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream whipped
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine room temperature cream cheese, yogurt, and hot chocolate mixes.
  2. Stir until well combined. In a small bowl, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar together until still peaks form.
  3. Fold whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and gently combine.
  4. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Serve with an assortment of fresh fruit, graham cracker sticks, and pretzels.

Notes: Recommend using Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa or another brand that has simple ingredients for best results.

 

Herb-Infused Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

Heat butter in the microwave or stove top. Mix all together and gift in a decorative mason jar. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, use dried. Convert each tablespoon fresh to a teaspoon of dried herbs.

Report

Written by Rebecca Turner

Rebecca Turner provides no-nonsense nutrition advice to a statewide and national audience through print, TV, and radio. She is the author of two books: Mind Over Fork and Enjoy Good Health. Lending her talents to Mississippi Public Broadcasting's healthy eating show, Fit to Eat, airing on the Create Channel nationwide, and the Emmy Award-winning children's show, Ed Said. She also appears as a wellness expert on local news and creates nutrition-based features for Today in Mississippi, Mississippi Christian Living Magazine, and national publications. On weekdays, she hosts a statewide talk radio show, Good Things with Rebecca Turner, on SuperTalk Mississippi.

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