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Thanksgiving Pointers From Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian's Helpful Hints For Feasting on a Budget

Of all the year's celebrations, Thanksgiving often is the most expensive. In 2008, roughly a quarter of you said you were spending $150 or more. This year, to help you stay well within your budget, we've enlisted the help of Melissa d'Arabian, winner of the Next Food Network Star and host of Ten Dollar Dinners With Melissa d'Arabian.

On her Food Network show, Melissa makes dinner for four for under $10 — and her Thanksgiving is no different. She's partnered with Walmart to come up with a turkey day feast that's only $20, and plans to serve it to her own family this holiday. "My family is really getting the $20 thanksgiving!" she says. Regardless of how much you've got in your wallet, she has some pointers to help you stay under budget. See them when you read more.

  • Play with ordinary pantry ingredients to add depth to your meal. Find creative ways to extract all the flavor from ingredients you buy. Roast garlic and you'll get a mellow, deep flavor. Caramelize onions low and slow for a half hour to extract their natural sweetness. Or take a regular pantry ingredient like sugar and turn it into something completely different, like caramel sauce.
  • Add spices to make things really special. Putting cinnamon or cardamom pods in a dessert sauce adds a unique touch, but is inexpensive and easy.
  • Stretch your drink dollar. No need to stock a full bar. Create one festive signature cocktail, place it in a pretty pitcher, and serve just that. You can also stretch a bottle of wine by turning it into a spritzer or a sangria. Fill pitchers with tap water and slices of lemon or cucumber for an elegant touch without the expense of bottled water.
  • Make place settings special with personalized notes. Jot small personal notes of welcome to guests. Using the tiny gift envelopes and cards available at paper shops, write a short note for each guest — something kind and intimate so they know their presence is appreciated. "For first-time Thanksgiving hosts," d'Arabian adds, "there's nothing like feeling warm and grateful to make your audience a little more forgiving on any culinary missteps!"

What are you doing to stay within your budget this holiday?

Join The Conversation
foodHistorian foodHistorian 7 years
The pilgrims survived their first winter on handfuls of dried grain: To Commemorate this, dry cooked corn in oven, 250 degrees 3-4 hours until chewy,slightly crunchy: Everyone at the table gets a sample-this MUST be eaten before anything else is served.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
Depending on the size of the bird, the turkey itself can cost more than $20, though i know one store that's selling them at $8.77 for 12lbs or less (i think). I suppose it depends on how much you want to pay for quality, organic, free range, etc. As for streching a bottle of wine, I wouldn't unless it was a 2 buck chuck or another cheapy. There are a lot of good wines out their that can be paired with a thanksgiving meal that are under $10 and be enjoyed. Like always, one has to be aware of the competing prices and how much you spend on food. I managed to get all my produce for the thanksgiving meal at a local corner market for $15. 79cents a lb for yams? Heck yess! 69 cents a lb for onions vs Safeway 99 cents? Woooot! :)
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 7 years
On Sunday my best friend and I went to the 99 cent store because we needed a ton of foil for a class project. While there I noticed a lot of the stuff I usually buy at Albertsons for only 99 cents and they were the same brands. I bought a bunch of stuff for thanksgiving dinner and ended up saving about $20.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Well, for starters, my parents always host Thanksgiving and it's always "dry"...just soda and tea and coffee. We're not big drinkers in my family and no one complains or anything. That really cuts down on the expense, I guess.
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