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Kristen Hagopian's Thanksgiving Recipes that serve 8 guests for less than $50

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'BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING' WITH KRISTEN HAGOPIAN

Create a Spectacular Thanksgiving on a Speck of a budget: 8 guests for less than $50 total!

There’s no better time than Thanksgiving to realize just how many blessings we have, especially in this crazy day and age.  

Kristen Hagopian

Creating a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner is a wonderful way to show family and friends how much we care, but how do you throw a fantastic shindig without breaking the bank?  Easily, that’s how!  Keep reading for some amazing, effortless ideas on creating a magnificent Thanksgiving dinner for eight people, all for under $50!

First, behold some insider information – the Thanksgiving menu at Chateau Frugalista…  it’s a tried & true combination that gets fabulous reviews, with an iron clad rave-factor – four gourmet desserts!

Oven Roasted Fresh Turkey
Herbed Bread and Wild Rice Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar & Maple Syrup
Tossed Green Salad with Dressing
Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
Freshly baked croissants
Gourmet Pumpkin Pie
Selection of Cheesecakes
Petite Chocolate Tarts
Biscotti / Tusconi with Coffee
Sparkling Juices

RETAIL PRICE VS BRILLIANT FRUGAL PRICE
I’ve spoken to people who used to purchase their entire Thanksgiving meal (for eight guests) ready-made at the gourmet supermarkets for over $200 dollars.  Easy on time, I’ll admit, but murder on the wallet!  Purchase all of the above items retail in the supermarket and make it yourself, and you could still pay well over $100.00 nowadays.  However, purchase it with some effortless Brilliant Frugal Living tips, and you’re about to spend less than $50!

Thanksgiving Turkey:
The general rule for Thanksgiving turkey has always been the same – start with one pound per guest.  Calculate that number, then tack on 4-5 pounds for leftovers.  You know the people around your table; you can always tweak the number up or down according to your needs.  This Thanksgiving, we’re talking about a 15 pound turkey or so.  Purchase it at local meat markets for the usual $1.59/pound, and you’re spending close to $25.  However, in the first three weeks of November, just about every market in America is going to be throwing sales to bring in customers, and the smart ones will greatly discount their turkeys, often down to .79/pound. Always stick with the meat market where you purchase your high-quality meats throughout the year to ensure quality, and you’re procuring a fabulous main dish while pocketing some easy savings. Money Spent: $11.85

Thanksgiving Side dishesTurkey may be a menu staple for Thanksgiving, but it’s often the Thanksgiving side dishes that set a table apart!  First line of side-dish defense – find a local discount gourmet grocery (DGG) near you.  If you’ve never sought one out before, this Thanksgiving is the time to do it!  They are everywhere, and they’re an outstanding asset to anyone looking to slash their food budgets by 50% or more.  Here in Southeastern PA, I’m hitting the Amelia’s Grocery Outlet for all of my side dishes - they have aisle upon aisle of discounted gourmet foods at the ready to make your side dishes effortless and spectacular!  If the Amelia’s Grocery Outlet prices listed here seem extremely low to you, that’s because they are - all the more reason to get yourself to one pronto, Tonto!

Gourmet Herbed Bread & Rice Stuffing: A magnificent side dish that your guests will rave over!
This has always been a hit in my house, and while some restaurants and cooking shows use time-intensive recipes and spend hours creating this fabulous dish, I have a restaurant school secret for you (yes, Penn State restaurant grad, Class of 1991 – Go Lions!).  To create this fantastic, addictive dish, use one box of Stove Top Stuffing mixed with one box of any Wild Rice / Vermicelli mix.  Cook each mix separately, then combine the two together.  Within 10 minutes you have a rave-review stuffing!   Money Spent: $2.00

Mashed Potatoes
If you’re hosting 8-10 people this Thanksgiving, go with the standard 5-pound bag of potatoes.  Often priced as high as $2.99/bag, they’re available year round at Amelia’s for $0.97.  Money Spent: $0.97

Gravy
Okay, so my Mom’s gravy basically requires a 12-step program to back away from the gravy boat.  My home made recipe however… not so much.  Another restaurant school trick – ready-made gravy, with ¼ cup of turkey drippings stirred in for incredible depth of flavor.  This year, we’re sticking with the “practically homemade” scenario again.  Never a bad idea to let a few slivered shreds of turkey make their way into the gravy as well.  “Goodness, I thought I strained the gravy better than THAT! Tsk Tsk…”.  Money Spent: $2.00

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Maple Syrup
Very simple to make, and raved about year after year!  For 8-10 people, get 10 small or 5 large sweet potatoes (about 3# total).  Wash, peel & slice, setting them single layer into a strong baking dish.  Top each slice with a pat of butter, and add ½ teaspoon of brown sugar.  Bake at 350 for one hour.  Put into serving dish, and drizzle maple syrup over top – never hurts to have some maple syrup at the table as well.   Money Spent: $3.00

Green Salad
Ready-made salads are fabulous – I also love the look of a green dish on the table amongst all of the fall colors of the turkey and sweet potatoes.  And the best part of ready-made salad: open the bag, whamo, you’re done! Pair it with your favorite ready-made gourmet dressing, and it couldn’t be easier.   Money Spent: $2.00

Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
Okay, when we were little, it was cool to see that gelatinous oogy stuff come out of the can with can indents still visible in the sides.  Now that I’m in my fourties… okay, it still looks way cool, BUT don’t you dare serve it to your guests!  Go with one of the delicious ready-made varieties, but select the whole berries in syrup.  For some easy-yet-fabulous taste & panache, drain a small can of mandarin oranges and gently mix it in.  It’s a fabulous taste combination and beautiful side dish, especially when served in crystal bowls! Money Spent: $1.00

Fresh Hot Rolls
This is always the point where I say damn the carbs, full speed ahead!  Go with two freshly baked croissants per person, and you’ll always have leftovers.  For this table, it means two dozen.   Money Spent: $3.00

Desserts!
Gourmet Pumpkin Pie
Selection of Cheesecakes – Blueberry Pomegranate / Chocolate Chip / Strawberry / Original Creamy Cheesecake
Petite Chocolate Tarts
Biscotti & Tusconi with coffee

Yes, four desserts.  It’s Thanksgiving.  Besides, at this point, the insane-level carb hit has torpedoed my higher thought processes and my four dessert selections seem downright nutritious.  (“look, PUMPKIN!, BLUEBERRIES! HEALTHY STUFF! Come to Momma!…”)  This is also the time of the meal where your guests like to linger and talk, and four desserts surrounding them always make it tough to hurry off.  Money Spent: $15.00

Sparkling Juices

I’m not a fan of having a lot of alcohol at the Thanksgiving meal, but I like to offer a beverage that’s delicious and looks great in crystal wineglasses. Sparkling alcohol-free beverages (cranberry juices, etc) are gorgeous, and everybody loves them.  For a party of 10, we have two bottles, one cranberry juice, and one sparkling berry juice.   Money Spent: $2.99

Okay, so a quick recap.  All of the above items would regularly cost hundreds ready-made.  Instead, we shopped at a couple of local stores, and with very little effort, spent $44.00 instead, for a rave-worthy meal that’s easy to prepare and will leave you with lots of time to enjoy Thanksgiving with your guests! And like I say every year, above all else, remember that  Thanksgiving isn’t so much about the food at the table, as it is the faces around it.  When the talk around the table strays to the economy and/or politics…put those Chocolate Tarts to good use! 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!   

Kristen Hagopian is the local author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”, the only book on the market that guarantees you will save you thousands of dollars in one year’s time, or your money back!  Kristen lives with her husband and two kids in their as-of-yet-unfinished fixer upper in Chester County, PA.  Her book is available at  Amazon.com, is downloadable to Kindle, and can be ordered at her website www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.