Thursday, November 10, 2022

Thursday, Getting thrifty here!

 Cooking for the holidays can be overwhelming and expensive, but not if you cook from scratch and look ahead. A standard American meal for Thanksgiving here in the west is:

1. TURKEY/gravy

2. potatoes



5.sweet potatoes

6. olives/relishes

7. rolls

8. cranberries

9. pies

Now some of you might have other traditional foods and different regions have different things that they cook.

So how does one go about cooking a large meal like this and not going way over budget or causing the checkbook to overrun?

First, if you are hosting, ask for help.   Ask people to bring, the wine, or drinks.  Ask people to bring the relish tray and olives.  Ask people to bring the sides, even the sweet potatoes can be brought in and also the pies.  Delegate so you are not doing it all.

If you do find yourself responsible for everything learn to cook the traditional food yourself.

Stuffing (mine) is made from dried bread, butter, cooked giblets for broth and flavor.  More chicken stock can of condensed milk, seasonings. Onions, celery.  Sage, salt, pepper, parsley, or whatever you like.

I get a loaf of bread from the day-old bakery and put it out to dry then cube it and let it dry some more.  Or you can make corn bread and do the same.  I cook my giblets and onions and celery in chicken stock and a cube of butter on the stove until they are tender and then remove the giblets and use the stock for flavor.  Pour over dried bread, and mix, now add a can of condensed milk, and mix in your spices.  I also add a can of chopped olives and some mushrooms, but these are optional.

I also make a small side of oyster stuffing for hubs with a can of oysters chopped into it.  But I do not stuff my turkey with this as it gives the entire turkey the taste of oysters and some don't like that.

Potatoes/ onions are mostly free here so that is a blessing. Boil your peeled russets or whatever kind you prefer and then whip with butter and canned milk, salt and pepper.

We do pay a premium for sweet potatoes.  However, two large, sweet potatoes are all you need for a large crowd.  With everything else you are serving consider this a side.

Many have that green bean dish with crunchy onions on top.  I buy French style green beans on sale when they are .50 a can.  I also buy the cream of mushroom soup when it is on sale.  Then the onions will be marked down after the holidays so buy a package then and save.  I have some I purchased last year, and they are good through 2024.

You can do whole cranberries if you wish and cook, and these will go on sale after the holiday, and you can freeze.  But I prefer to serve both the canned jelly and the canned crushed at my table.  Again, I buy on sale and have them from last year.

I make my own rolls. Here is my favorite roll recipe:  Start now and practice, you will be surprised how easy this is.

one package yeast (I buy yeast in bulk, so I measure out 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of yeast per batch

one cup of warm water (105 to 115) I just use tap water and make sure it is not too hot

3 tablespoons sugar This will feed the yeast

Mix the above and let set for about 5-10 minutes, until the yeast starts to bubble and foam.

Now soften or melt

2tablespoons and butter or shortening (make sure it is not too hot)

one egg 

3/4 teaspoon salt  

Mix the above three ingredients as you beat you egg.  I just put my egg, shortening and salt all together and beat.

Now add your flour to yeast mixture, I add 2 cups and stir in and then add the egg mixture.  After this is incorporated you add another 1 to 1.5 cups flour depending on how sticky the dough is.  Just add one cup at first.

Now I put my other 1/2 cup flour out on counter and dump sticky dough onto the flour.  I use my hands to make a soft dough and knead about 10 times. Do not over knead. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover let it stand in a warm place.  After an hour, punch down and make up your desires rolls, (this can be used for cinnamon or any kind of roll) let rise again covered and then bake at 400 for 15 -20 minutes.

You can also just put this dough once it is made into fridge for up to 5 days before you raise it.  Then remove from fridge and raise punch down and make rolls and raise again.

I usually triple this recipe, because the best part of Thanksgiving is getting the leftover turkey and a roll and eating it.


I also make my own pies here is my favorite piecrust recipe and it never fails.

This recipe makes 3 pie crusts, I usually triple it and freeze, disks of dough in wax paper and then put into a freezer bag.  I just pull one or two out as needed.

mix 3 cups of flour with 1tsp baking powder and one tsp. salt.  I just use a wire whisk.

now add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Crisco (I use Crisco cheaper shortenings will give you a hard to work with crust, but I have used them before, Sissie, uses butter) 

Cut this in until it is fine.

in a separate bowl add 1 egg and 1 tbsp of vinegar (it can be white or apple cider), 1/3 cup cold water.  Beat until egg is foamy

Now add to flour/crisco mixture.  You can use hands or large spoon until you have a dough you can handle. I divide according to the amount you make.

Again practice. You will get the hang of this.


Frozen pie crust can be a different consistency and harder to roll than fresh.  I usually just put my disk into my pie shell and press it out with my fingers.

I always make my pies a day ahead.

I do an apple, at least 2 pumpkin and some kind of cream pie.

I have apples already cut in slices in the freezer for pies.  I also have cooked down pumpkin in the freezer.  A cream pie is a cornstarch/egg based hot milk with chocolate or flavoring added. 

 I will always have, canned pumpkin, both kinds of cranberries, potatoes, onions, celery, spices, green beans, mushroom soup, butter, canned milk, crunchy onions, olives, sliced apples or pie ingredients in my pantry stored year-round.

Watch the sales right now for these ingredients, and stock up a few cans of things for next year. 

Whip cream is on sale now and can be frozen.  Cool whip will be under a dollar right now and I usually store about 4 of these year-round. 

Sissie also bought me a little devise that uses a gas cartridge to make spray whip cream.  Whip cream will store for up to two months in a fridge.  This has saved me many dollars over the years, and nothing is better than fresh whipped cream.

Now if you will follow this plan and buy a head, a Holiday meal other than the Turkey will not be such an expense.

Thrifty Thursday:

1. saved all my spare change

2. saved all my $5 bills now have 150.00 so saved $45.00 this week

3. only bought butter and cream at the grocery store on sale with coupons and Ibotta points

4. used coupons at Jo anns for zippers

5. downloaded receipts to fetch

6. cooked from scratch using pantry ingredients

7. car is in shop so staying home more

8. shared the expense of a housewarming gift with Lil sis.

9. fed all food scraps to the chickens

10. still working on getting a free turkey from Ibotta, but will only do things I actually use, and this is hard.  I have 5 more items to go.

11. Getting sodas at station every morning saving a trip to MC D's

12. Used more flexible dates for plane tickets to Sis's saving over $500.00 for two

13. added to my airline miles getting closer to a free ticket to use next year.

14. used American Express Delta card to get free luggage to and from. 

15. cooking down a chicken carcass I just cooked yesterday to make broth for the freezer.  Or for us as my freezer does not eat.

What did you do to save money this week?  Do you buy ahead for the next year's holidays? Do you try and cook from scratch?  Do you bake some dishes ahead, so you are not overwhelmed the day of?

What are some of your secrets for and easy (well that is an understatement) holiday celebration?

Have a great and productive day staying positive while you are in the negative.



  1. I am sure many will find this post very helpful, but I am wondering if you meant evaporated milk in the stuffing in stead of condensed?

    1. Well I guess I call evaporated and condensed the same thing I call the sweetened condensed milk , Sweetened condensed milk.

  2. Hi Kim, I thoroughly agree with your first point. We usually have a few friends over or eat by ourselves (no kids or family nearby). We always did the entire meal or at most, had someone bring a pie. Last year we invited two couples and they brought more things, what a great idea! Who knew! We made turkey, potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole. They brought everything else, one did appetizers and a side and the other brought two pies. We all had a wonderful time and there was so much less work for me! I can’t tell you how much easier it was. So for all those having guests, have them bring something! Hilogene in Az

    1. Well I am starting to do that with my kids and the rule is the dish cannot be made at my house. It has to come in made.

  3. One last thought…hit the enter button too soon. I believe the guests feel better knowing they can contribute to the meal, overall the different tastes made it much better than I could have done alone. Hilogene in Az

  4. I truly think Thanksgiving is one of the cheaper big holiday meals. So much can be gotten cheaply - especially the meat. I have all I need here to do whatever I want to make.
    I have never added milk to stuffing - I use eggs. That is how mom did it. Never heard of using milk until today. Learn something new every day!
    Have a good evening. Good post!

    1. I always have used condensed/evaporated milk. Never eggs. We all have our ways.

  5. What a great post Kim! I'm sure this will be helpful to many. We don't eat traditional foods, since none of care for turkey. We cook non-traditional foods, but must have green bean casserole & pumpkin pie (compliments of Sams). I tried baking a pie after MIL (she used to bake our pies) died & it was a big flop. So I just buy one. I buy the big bag of French's Onions at Sams. The unit cost is so much cheaper than buying the cans at the grocery store. I just use the leftover onions to coat chicken or make more green bean casseroles throughout the year.

    1. Many people are afraid of pies, and they do take some practice. But I have had SAM'S pie and it is not bad.

  6. I will try your pie crust recipe. I a, such a failure at crusts…was told by my mother years ago that I do not have the “ feel”. Have tried, butter, crisco and lard. She could roll out perfect crusts one after another but mine cracked, stuck, etc. even as she watched. She did add some sugar to her crusts ( made with crisco always] do you add sugar any time? Thanks

    1. I have added a couple of tablespoons here and there, I don't taste the difference.

  7. I do it by myself bc daughter out West so I cook for three sons and ex husband a whole Turkey with long carrots, cornbread dressing, rolls, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, something sweet potatoes, spinach dip, green pea salad, artichoke dip, maybe pumpkin pudding, sometimes mac and cheese, used to make no bake cookies, apple pie, banana bread, cheesecake, but not sure this year.

    1. Oops. This is Cindy in the South.

    2. I quess having sons will make a difference, but you sound like me and that is so much work. I am so done with so much work..

  8. Here in Canada Thanksgiving is more an immediate family meal. Now Christmas is different, or it used to be in our family. The host always made the turkey and gravy, but all sides, and such were brought by extended family. I think from the sounds of it we are all thinking of going back to that for this year.

    God bless.

    1. That is how it was when I was little, but we had this one Aunt that could not cook, the stories we could tell about the side dishes she brought.

  9. We've got no one to have Turkey Day with this year as Daughter and Son in-law are going to his parents. I just don't want to go to all the work of making a big dinner for just us. Trying to find a local free dinner place(church or community center)or will volunteer at a soup kitchen instead. 8-)

    1. That is a great Idea. But I think Justines parents could invite you.

  10. My mother made perfect pie crusts. When I was married with two kids, I saw her using store bought pie crusts in their own pans. I immediately switched and never made a homemade crust again! She made wonderful Parker House rolls, too. But, switched to easier bought rolls. She was not lazy, just sick for so long.

    We will have it, just on a smaller scale. Turkey breast instead of turkey, Stovetop Stuffing instead of homemade with cornbread.

    I have never heard of milk in dressing. And, I have used cornbread with lots of broth, celery, and seasonings, mainly ground sage.

    All this talk is making my mouth water for Thanksgiving food!

  11. I polled the teens this week, and here's the menu we've decided on:

    Cocktail hour:
    Pomegranate martinis/cider
    Goat cheese crostini

    Mashed potatoes
    Roasted acorn squash
    Green beans

    Chocolate cake

    Not traditional, but what everyone wants. ;-) It will just be the four of us

    1. That is perfectly okay. I think it is wonderful that you celebrate just the way you want!

  12. Kim, this is a great blog post on how to save money on a turkey dinner. I’m going to share it with my readers if you don’t mind.