November 12, 2012

Category: Smart Spending

Talking Turkey: Creating a Lavish Feast for Less

Thanksgiving is all about excess and bounty—but often, it ends up depleting your resources significantly.  With a little culinary creativity and preparation, you can create a fabulous feast that might even make Martha Stewart envious. Consider these budget-wise ideas:     

Family Planning   

The other main component of the Thanksgiving equation is family. Though holidays can be stressful and relationship tensions can heighten, Turkey Day is fundamentally about gratitude and bringing families together around a common table.  In fact, people are often at their best when they are given the opportunity to be generous. So, make the event a group effort.  If you are hosting, perhaps, you can sign up for the bird prep—and assign the side dishes, salads, beverages and pies to the attendees. Or, you could even provide the place and request that your guests bring all the food. (After all, cleaning the house is a major contribution to any celebration). This can make the day fun and festive—and more focused on family and friends—with all the hustle-bustle in the kitchen. The memories may be more about the process than the potatoes!   

Dazzling Decor 

Presentation is everything. Set the stage and the mood for your guests with a lovely table.  You don’t have to spend a fortune or hire a florist to create an autumn wonderland. Try collecting natural elements from your backyard for free, fresh décor.  Arrange at the center of the table—beneath a scatter of candle sticks with tapers. Presto, you have an impressive display.  Or, fill a vase halfway with acorns and arrange willow branches, sturdy sticks and gold and red leaves to cascade over the top. Make place cards with tiny squares of ivory card stock secured to pinecones. Your room will be flowing with the magic of the holidays!   

Savvy Sides   

Many of us bring high expectations to the holidays—a desire to impress or to recapture childhood magic. But that doesn’t require spending lots of money. You don’t need to have a dozen side dishes, and you can make smart choices about the ones you make. Select side dishes and dessert recipes that cost little to purchase and require even less time to prep. In no time, Thanksgiving dinner will be ready to serve, and you can actually sit down and enjoy it.   

Try these tasty turkey-day recipes:   

Delicious and Economical Cranberry Side Dish

1 ½ cups jellied cranberries 2 cups apple pie filling 3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed 1 cup celery, diced   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Bake in oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Enjoy warm. To make this recipe quicker and easier use canned sweet potatoes    

Easy and Cheap Broccoli Casserole

1 bunch fresh broccoli, chopped 1 cup rice, uncooked 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 can cream of mushroom soup ½ cup Velveeta cheese ½ cup milk ½ stick butter ¼ cup water Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook broccoli until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Grease a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Pour ingredients into casserole dish.  Bake at 350 or 15 minutes. Then, remove from oven and stir. Continue cooking for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until bubbly.   

With some strategic party planning and creativity, you can make some valuable Thanksgiving memories—that last much longer than the leftovers. Do you have some cost-saving ideas to share?