As I mentioned yesterday the pressure to grocery shop for foods that you might not normally eat or budget for is great at this time of the year, so today I thought I'd offer some creative, budget-wise solutions to this potentially budget-busting time.
Thanksgiving meal is steeped in tradition in as much as whole roast turkey, mashed potato with gravy, candied sweet potato, beans and or brussel sprouts boiled with bacon, and stove-top stuffing feature heavily followed by fruit and pecan pies.
This I've observed, even though I'm from Australia where we don't have Thanksgiving, and where turkey is rarely eaten, because ever since I've lived in the U.S., I've participated in the Thanksgiving tradition either cooking the whole meal or as a guest at a friend's family feast.
Now honoring tradition is important, yet the core belief associated with this day is the giving of thanks, the expression of gratitude while in the presence of friends and or family with whom you're sharing a meal.
The tradition behind this day of appreciation is not the perfectly baked whole turkey, the buttery whipped potatoes or the "will we put the giblets in or leave them out?" stuffing; these are simply delicious adjuncts representing the bounty of the season, one of many things to be grateful for.
Therefore, if we de-emphasize Thanksgiving as a smorgasbord of turkey, sides and pie, and emphasize the day as one of gratitude within the context of sharing a meal of seasonal foods, there is less pressure to go over-budget on an extravagant menu, and more room for creativity at the store and in the kitchen.
For Instance, consider the adage Less is More:
1) Rather than buying a whole turkey, what about buying organically-farmed turkey pieces, like half a breast or 2 legs and make more of less.
3) For a change, why not bypass turkey altogether and bake a whole, natural chicken or stuff and bake a whole fish; maybe consider having a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal.
4) Instead of serving a selection of carbohydrate-heavy sides like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, wild rice and stuffing, pick just one or two and make more of less.
5) What about just one hot side of say, yams with cranberries, and a large spinach salad tossed with walnut oil, pistachios, feta cheese & pomegranate seeds. Make more with less.
6) Dessert is delicious, but when it comes to sweet treats, particularly at the end of a big, heavy meal, less is definitely better.
7) Why not serve just one dessert, and does it have to be a pie? Could it be whole baked apples stuffed with raisins, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter? Or what about fresh, sliced pears sauteed in butter, brown sugar or honey, finished with a drizzle of cream? Even a simple platter of seasonal apples and pears with a selection of nuts and dried fruits is delicious and economical.
These are just a few simple ideas I came up with on the spur of the moment.
Imagine the creative ways you could prepare a budget-wise Thanksgiving meal if you allowed yourself the time to think differently about the last Thursday in November.