Cut the Cost of Your Thanksgiving Dinner. Sunny Anderson Tells You How

The Food Network star dishes on how to stir it up for less than $100

Forty percent of families will change their Thanksgiving plans for economic reasons this year, according to a survey released by First Command Financial Services.  Hence, Thanksgiving dinner will be scaled down for most of us this year. Radio host turned Cooking For Real star Sunny Anderson is no stranger to creating delish dishes–while staying mindful of one’s budget. She does so each day on her Fod Netowrk cooking shows. talked with the Brooklyn-based foodie about what she would prepare on a $100 budget, serving four, how she acts like a stock broker when it comes to getting deals and what will be on her dinner table next week.

“If I had a $100 budget for Thanksgiving dinner my menu would still have holiday comfort,” says Anderson. “I’d pick holiday recipes with fewer pricey ingredients like my dad’s Game-Changing Thanksgiving Turkey, my Creamy Stove-top Mac and Cheese and Vegetarian ‘Southern-style’ Collard Greens. To drink, my Refrigerator Brewed Iced Tea and for dessert, a simple paring of ice cream and strong coffee, my Minty Mocha Affogato, without the booze.”

If you want to serve up equally appetizing meals without the financial hassle, follow Anderson’s four tips to staying within a budget this Thanksgiving:

  • Research–Keep an eye out for newspaper advertisements and circulars. You can usually find deals within those pages all leading up to the big day. Also, ask the butcher, produce stock person, grocery store clerk and even customer service representative at the supermarket about upcoming deals or things that are over stocked or understocked. “Quite like a stock broker, they can tell you when to hold or buy for the best price,” says the TV host.
  • Start early…”the early bird gets the worm”–Make your list weeks in advance. Many popular supermarket chains offer the opportunity to shop and gain points towards a free turkey. “If you are too late this year, get signed up and build points for next year,” says Anderson. “A free turkey is no joke!”
  • Downsize–This rule applies to buying and preparing dishes. Spice and herb companies now package their products in smaller portions so you don’t have to buy a large jar, which is often pricey. Sunny reminds cooks that you only have to use a pinch or one to two teaspoons  per recipe. Also, if you know you’re cooking for less, she instructs not to buy an entire turkey, just the breasts rather. Secondly, she suggests not to get wrapped up on the leftovers. Instead, think about making a smaller dish and only your favorite sides. “Cutting a recipe in half can make room for dessert, in the budget and in your tummy!”
  • Shake things up a bit. Generally, traditions trump all when it comes to the holidays, but think about what is best for your budget. “One year I didn’t even have a turkey, I had cheesesteaks,” says the Air Force vet. ” It was still a special meal and I was very thankful, so truly the holidays are what you make it.”

Anderson’s table will be filled with the usual favorites in addition to a version of her P.R. pernil, spicy macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole and mustard greens and other flavorful sides and desserts this Thanksgiving.

Bon Apétit (sans the guilt)!

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