A basic Thanksgiving dinner for 25.00 with recipes ( less if you cook everything from scratch).

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I was looking in the sale ads and one of the stores had a Turkey dinner all prepared for 59.99 that was a 10-12 pound turkey, your choice of 2 sides, 1 10in. Pumpkin pie and a 12 ct Hawaiian rolls. Holy cow I am thinking for 60 dollars you could make one heck of a dinner. But what if money is tight and you still want to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner, Well you can with a little preparation.


First a few tips.

  • If others are coming ask them to help with food.
  • If you can get a little larger turkey then you need while it is on sale. You will be able to get several meals from it.
  • Make as much as you can from scratch it will taste so much better and will cost a whole lot less.
  • Drink tea, water, coffee or Kool-aid instead of Cider,
    sodas or wine.
  • You don’t need a ton of sides a couple will be fine.
  • Serve kids smaller portions of dinner and dessert they can always come back for more if they want. Little ones waste a lot of food when it gets piled on their plates and then they can’t or won’t eat it all.
  • Use simple recipes so you don’t need a lot of elaborate ingredients that you don’t have on hand and would have to go buy.
  • You don’t need a ton of desserts keep it simple by the time dinner is over everyone is so stuffed that they don’t want much dessert.

The prices I am using is from City Markets sale ad ( Kroger) if you don’t have a Kroger store near you I am sure one of your local stores will have pretty comparable sales. Also, these prices are assuming you have some of the basics such as flour, seasonings, butter, milk, mayo, mustard etc. Also if you make as much from scratch as you can it will be a little cheaper. If you make your own bread for the rolls and the dressing you can do all of it for under 25 dollars



Thanksgiving Dinner

Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry sauce
Green Beans (you can do a green bean casserole but it is a little more expensive)
Deviled Eggs
Pumpkin Pie with cool whip
Candied sweet potatoes These will up your total to 30.00 so if you don’t have the money then omit or replace the cranberry sauce and the deviled eggs

Turkey is on sale for .49 cents a pound you can get a smaller one for a little less but I would get at least a 20 pounder if possible for about 10.00. This way you will have leftover turkey to use later.

Mashed potatoes 5 pounds for 2.00 use half of them 1.00.

Cranberry sauce 2.00 a can they also have cranberries on sale for 3.99 for 2 pounds. My family isn’t too crazy about cranberries so I always just get the can. I do plan on buying some cranberries while they are on sale ( I love cranberries).

Green beans you will need 2 cans, 69 cents a can, 1.38
Or if you want a green bean casserole, 2 cans of green beans French fried onions .3.49 Cream of mushroom soup.79 cents


Stuffing, 2 boxes .99 each 2.00 or you can make your own for about 1.00.

Bread, you can get rolls from the bakery for 2.50 or you can make your own

Deviled eggs, 1.00

Candied sweet potatoes, 5.00

Pumpkin pie evaporated milk 1.00, 15 oz pumpkin 1.00 pie crust 1.66 or you can make your own crust cool whip 2.00



stick of butter

Onions ( optional)

Celery (optional)

If you are starting with a frozen turkey, you will need to allow several days to defrost the turkey. You’ll want to defrost it in the refrigerator so that the turkey stays chilled during this process.

Put the frozen turkey in a pan to prevent leaks (or put a plastic bag in the crisper and put your turkey in there.) and then place it in the refrigerator. It will take about 5 hours of defrosting time for every pound of turkey. So if you have a 15-pound turkey, it should take about 75 hours, or 3 days, to defrost. If you need to defrost it more quickly than that, you can place it in a large tub of cold water, and keep changing the water to keep it cold.

Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Remove the insides of the turkey and save rinse the turkey inside and out with water. If you see stray turkey feathers, pluck them out. Use paper towels to pat the turkey dry.

Put all the insides of the turkey (neck, liver ect) in a pan add water and salt bring to a boil and then simmer. We will use this a little later on.

Rub either softened butter or olive oil all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously on all sides of the outside of the turkey

Lay turkey, breast side down( by putting the breast side down all the juices run in to the breast making a more moist turkey) , in the pan and place the stick of butter on the inside if you have some onions and celery tops also place in the cavity ( if not don’t worry about it) . Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 250° for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 200° and roast for 10-15 hours. Cooking time can be longer to fit your schedule. Test with a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature in the thigh is 180°. If you use a roasting bag ( which I use ) it will cut your cook time down. Just follow the instructions on the package.

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour and a half before the turkey should be done.

You want a resulting temperature of 170°F for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 165°F for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, so take the turkey out of the oven when the temperature reading for the thigh is 165°F, and for the breast 160°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.
When done take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest before you carve it.

When you are finished with your turkey, save the bones from the carcass to make a delicious turkey soup.


Dressing  If using a box just follow the instructions.

Making Homemade Stuffing From Bread Cubes.

8 cups dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
½ stick butter
1 tbsp. chopped sage, and thyme
3/4 teaspoon sage
1 cup broth ( use the broth you made from the neck and other inside stuff )

Take about a pound of bread lightly butter both sides cut into cubes. Place the bread cubes on the baking sheet sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of sage bake in a 250 oven for around 1 ½ to 2 hours stir after an hour. Make sure they are completely dry take from the oven and let cool.

While your breadcrumbs are cooling saute half an onion and a little chopped celery in ½ a stick of butter.
When breadcrumbs are cool put in a bowl add the sauteed onions and celery and the spices mix well then slowly add the broth till the desired consistency if you like it dry it won’t take much broth but if you like it moister add more broth.
After all, mixed put in a baking pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

If you don’t have the onions and celery just omit and add the melted butter. You may want to add a little onion and celery salt.

Mashed Potatoes
2 ½ pounds peeled cubed potatoes
1 stick butter
1/4 to ½ cup of milk
1/4 cup plain dry coffee creamer (optional)
Salt and Pepper

In a large saucepan, place potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender Drain. Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl and add butter and coffee creamer. I use my hand mixer for this but you can use a hand potato masher. Add milk till desired consistency then add salt and pepper.


Turkey Gravy

1/4cup turkey drippings (fat and juices from roasted turkey)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups liquid (juices from roasted turkey, broth that you cooked from the neck, canned broth, water)
½ teaspoon salt, or less, if using turkey drippings
½ teaspoon pepper

Pour drippings from roasting pan into a bowl, leaving brown particles in pan. Return 1/4 cup drippings to roasting pan. (Measure accurately because too little fat makes gravy lumpy.) Stir in flour. (Measure accurately so gravy is not greasy.)

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Stir in liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in salt and pepper.

Cranberry sauce

If you use canned be sure to put in the fridge to chill.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 Lb cranberries (4 cups)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
dash of salt
Wash cranberries and put in a lsaucepane pan. Add sugar, water & salt. Stir to mix sugar and berries.
Cover saucepan and set on heat. Cook until the berries start to pop. Remove lid and lightly stir being carful not to crush berries. Cook 2 minutes. Let come to a boil and boil for one minute longer.


Green beans
If making plain green beans you can add a little chicken bullion and a little bacon or bacon grease to add to the flavor. Or just a add a little butter when you warm them.

Green Bean casserole

2 cans (14.5 oz each) French-style green beans, drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 container (2.8 oz) French-fried onions

Heat oven to 350°F. In 1 1/2-quart casserole or glass baking dish, mix green beans, soup, and milk.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, topping with onions during last 5 minutes of baking, until bubbly.


Deviled eggs
6 hard boiled eggs
1 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 Tablespoons melted butter


Shell hard boiled eggs and cut in half. Remove yolks and mash; add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Heap into whites and sprinkle with paprika.


Candied sweet potatoes

2 (40 ounce) cans Sweet Potatoes {yams} drained – save juice from 1 can or 3 pounds sweet potatoes (orange-flesh)
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons butter

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Dash ground nutmeg
• Dash ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• These are optional

2½ cups (or more) mini marshmallows

Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan or shallow 3-quart casserole.
If using fresh wash and peel then cut them into 3/4-inch cubes boil till fork tender then drain. Arrange the sweet potato cubes in the prepared baking pan.
If using canned drain Sweet Potatoes, saving the juice from 1 can and spread in a prepared dish you may want to cut into smaller cubes.

(For both) In a small saucepan on the stove, melt the butter, then add brown sugar and spices (if using), whisk until sugar is dissolved – about 2 minutes
Pour over sweet potatoes
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows
Turn oven up a bit, about 400, and return the dish to oven to brown the marshmallows for about 5 minutes. Watch closely.
Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pie
1 pie crust
2 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

Bake pie crust at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes until crust starts to puff with small bubbles. Watch carefully. Then remove from the oven. Blend all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into pie crust and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for 45 minutes. When a knife is inserted into the center of the pie and comes out clean, it is done. Makes one pie.

Pie Crust
This is the pie crust that recipe that I got from my Grandmother I usually try to double then divide the extra into balls and put in the freezer then when I need a crust I can pull one out defrost and have a crust in no time.

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups shortening ( or lard) cold
1 egg, cold
1 Tbsp. vinegar, cold
5 Tbsp. water, cold ( or Orange juice)

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives (I use my fingers). Add egg, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix lightly. If the dough is too dry, add more water. Mix with hands. Don’t over mix. Mix just until the dough sticks together.

Divide into thirds. Roll out to make 3 pies crusts. When using the crust for the top of the pie, sprinkle sugar on top and poke with a few steam holes. The crust can be frozen in balls and then defrosted and rolled out when ready to use. Makes 3 crusts.


Basic Bread rolls

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 eggs


Scald milk; add shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
Sprinkle yeast on warm water; stir to dissolve.
Add 1 1/2 cups flour to milk mixture; beat well by hand or electric mixer at low speed 1 minute. Beat in eggs and yeast.
Gradually stir in enough remaining flour, a little at a time, to make a soft dough that leaves sides of the bowl. Turn onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth, satiny and no longer sticky, 5 to 8 minutes.
Place in lightly greased bowl; invert dough to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. Divide in half and shape as desired. Place in greased pans.
Brush tops lightly with melted butter; let rise until doubled, 30 to 45 mins.
Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) 12 to 15 min. Makes about 30 rolls, exact number depending on shape and size.


 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!



3 Replies to “A basic Thanksgiving dinner for 25.00 with recipes ( less if you cook everything from scratch).”

  1. NRP

    Rancher’s Wife
    Good article, and lot of good recipes, THANKS

    Main question I would have is;
    Roasted, Deep Fried, or Smoked?
    Personally I have had all over the years, I like the Smoked the best. 🙂

  2. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

    Yes, I have had all three I think my favorite is deep fried. Or roasted that has been injected with seasonings.

    P.S. Have a great Thanksgiving.