By Hilary Meyer , November 9, 2009 - 11:32am
I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving, but it can be taxing—especially on my wallet. Thanksgiving is all about abundance, and I want to keep it that way—without breaking the bank. So I’ve carefully selected my menu this year to include Thanksgiving recipes  that are affordable and delicious.
My rules for selecting the recipes were simple: I kept my main dish (the turkey) to under $3 per serving. For side dishes and desserts, I kept them at $1.50 or below. My entire meal is going to please my palate and, at less than $7 per serving, keep my wallet happy too. Now that’s something to be thankful for.
Here’s my menu:
Layered Mashed Potato & Mushroom Casserole  ($1.42 per serving) Fancy up regular mashed potatoes with a layer of mushroom duxelle—a sauté of finely chopped mushrooms and shallots. We omitted the traditional butter in the duxelle and added chard for a nutritional boost. Serve this hearty side in place of mashed potatoes at any holiday feast or enjoy it as a vegetarian main dish.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions  ($0.65 per serving) Fresh herbs, onion and bacon pair beautifully with Brussels sprouts. This vegetable loves the cool weather of fall and early winter. If you can find them still attached to the stalk, don’t be intimidated—buy them, as they’re likely more fresh. All you need to do is slice off each sprout with a paring knife. However you find them at the market, this is a delicious way to prepare them. (Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.)
Creamed Onions  ($1.50 per serving) A holiday staple in many households, creamed onions are usually bathed in a rich white sauce made with heavy cream. In this version, we roast the onions for an added layer of flavor and lighten up the sauce with low-fat milk. The result is a luxuriously silky sauce with a sweet roasted onion flavor for far fewer calories and less fat. We like the smaller size of pearl onions, but boiling onions also work well.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake  ($ .90 per serving) This rustic cake is a delicious alternative to pie and uses one of the tastiest fruits of the fall harvest—cranberries. The basic recipe is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches, plums or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. Just arrange the fruit in the skillet before you pour the batter over it. The cake is best served warm; if you can, put it in the oven just before you sit down to dinner. (Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.)
Brine-Cured Roast Turkey  ($2.48 per serving) A big turkey is so spectacular you hardly need to do anything to embellish it. But brining can be that extra touch that makes it so juicy and flavorful that you’ll remember it for years to come. Brining the turkey takes 3 days so you’ll need to plan ahead, but the lengthy brining time really pays off with fabulous flavor. Make sure you start with an all-natural bird without any added water and sodium solution. (Recipe adapted from Alice Waters.)
Do you try and stick to a budget for Thanksgiving? Tell us what you think below.