Is your budget stretched thin? Is time at a premium? No problem. You can still make Thanksgiving as tasty and creative as ever!

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Classic Thanksgiving On A Budget

With a bit of creativity and a little help from your grocery store, you can have Thanksgiving completed in three steps or less, serve a meal for eight people, with a grocery list under $50 and only 60 minutes on the clock! Here’s my road map to a simple and inexpensive Thanksgiving.

Turkey
This year, serve turkey the easy way. Buy a three-pound boneless, skinless turkey breast. Cooking time will be cut dramatically, and you’ll have perfectly roasted meat. At my house, we fight over the white meat; with a breast, everyone gets some. Roast a three-pound breast approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spice up the turkey

  • Marinate breast for 10 minutes in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, thyme and sage.
  • Brush with apricot jam or orange marmalade before roasting.
  • Coat the breast in pesto before roasting.
  • Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and smoked paprika; rub the mixture into the meat. You’ll love the deep color too.

A little more time on your hands? Try this three-step turkey recipe.

  • Sear turkey breast on stovetop until skin is golden brown before roasting about 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 150 degrees.
  • While turkey is roasting, sauté bacon or pancetta and shallots in your searing pan.
  • When bacon is crisp, add white wine, mustard and cream; reduce the sauce by half. Add ground sage; pour sauce over roasted turkey.

Mashed potatoes
Okay, I confess: I cheat with packaged mashed potato flakes from the grocery. Even I have a hard time telling them from the real thing! Mix in any of these add-ons to suit your taste:

  • Garlic and shredded gruyere or Parmesan cheese.
  • Cream cheese and butter (add sage or thyme, if you like).
  • Chipotle in adobo and a dash of milk (to cut the pepper’s spiciness).

Stuffing
Store-bought stuffing is a quick and inexpensive alternative to making it from scratch. A few creative additions will have guests requesting your recipe.

  • Add sautéed diced onion, carrot and celery; mix into stuffing with chicken stock.
  • Add bacon and mushrooms for a richer option.
  • Try sweet fruits like dried apricots, cranberries or cherries. A handful of almonds adds a nice crunch.
  • Brown some sausage and sauté a shallot before mixing it with the stuffing. The bread will soak up the sausage juices, making it delicious.
  • Add chestnuts, dried plums and apples to the mix for a different take on the classic dish.

Green beans
Start with frozen, trimmed green beans. They are as delicious and fresh as those in the produce aisle, but will save prep time. Try them different ways, depending on your menu.

  • Sauté the beans in butter and toss with a thyme and toasted almonds.
  • Cook in a wok and toss in olive oil with dried cranberries or cherries.
  • Blanch beans by placing them in boiling water briefly before plunging into ice water. Then toss them in butter with persimmon.
  • Drizzle frozen beans with olive oil or butter and roast in the oven. For the last few minutes, drizzle a bit of cream over the beans for a fresh take on the classic green bean casserole.

Sweet potatoes
I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes. But instead of the marshmallow version, I like these. Try them – you’ll feel less guilty about the calories.

  • Prick sweet potatoes with a fork, wrap in foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until a knife goes in the center and comes out easily. Split them in half and top with maple syrup, butter and cinnamon.
  • Slice raw potatoes and toss with olive oil, ginger, honey and butter. Roast until golden brown and tender.
  • Roast sliced potatoes in the oven, then toss with butter, cream and salt for a flavor like creamy au gratin potatoes.
  • If you decide to indulge your sweet tooth, roast whole potatoes in foil, then top with crushed gingersnaps and butter when they come out of the oven.

Pumpkin pie
I love classic pumpkin pie, but sometimes I need a trick to get one on the dessert table quickly. Here’s how: use a packaged pie shell and buy seasoned filling and whipped cream. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees or until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out relatively clean. The store-bought ingredients are so well seasoned that guests won’t be able to tell the difference – and you’ll have more time to spend with family.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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