Top 5 tips to save time, money, stress and calories for Thanksgiving dinner

Are you having guests over for dinner on Thanksgiving?  Dreading the extra stress, expense and calories? Here are some helpful ideas.

 

Do not go overboard with variety. You do not have to have everyone’s favorite holiday food at one meal.  Do you serve mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes?   Do you serve two meats?  Think about eliminating some of the options.  With more variety, the more ingredients you will have to buy and store, the more serving and leftover dishes there will be and the more everyone will eat.

Take guests up on their offer to bring something. Be ready with a list of dishes you can have guests bring.   Some of your guests would love to show off their cooking skills with a salad or dessert.  Others with less time or ability could be asked to bring a dozen rolls from the bakery, a purchased dessert, or some type of beverage.

Simplify your recipes.  Every dish does not have to be fancy.  I love fresh or frozen green beans with a touch of olive oil more than green bean casserole.   I would rather have our Holiday Fruit Salad than a salad with a little fruit and lots of whipped topping or sweetened condensed milk.  I also love our Guiltless Pumpkin Pie.

Use some convenience foods. Homemade stuffing will cost less, especially if you save bread crusts or buy your bread at the day old store.   However, boxed stuffing is often on sale around the holidays and adding sautéed onions, celery and peppers is always a good substitute.

Know how many people are attending dinner. This is important so you do not end up making too much food and spending extra money. Make only as much as you need for the people that are attending unless you are deliberately planning for leftovers.  Here’s a planning guide to get you started

A couple of years ago we planned a dinner using these tips from Healthy Holiday Dinner for 8, including the recipes and shopping list.  The cost might be a little more than $30 now, but this holiday meal will not break your budget, make you fat or stressed out.

Guiltless Pie? Count the Ways

Looking for a super easy, delicious, light, inexpensive dessert?  Just in time for Thanksgiving (and really a dessert you could eat all year long), try our Guiltless Pumpkin Pie.

It’s guiltless because:

  • No crust means fewer calories.
  • Fat free milk saves calories, but has all the nutrition.
  • One serving provides 170% of your daily Vitamin A needs. Pumpkins are one of those orange vegetables along with carrots, sweet potatoes, and other winter squash that we need about 2 cups of each week.

This would be an easy recipe for a beginning cook or a cook’s helper. You don’t even need a mixer. The trickiest thing is to make sure to use a 5-ounce can of evaporated milk (the regular size can is 12 ounces), and cook the pie until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Guiltless Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 3/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 5-ounce can fat free evaporated milk
  • Optional: Lowfat whipped topping and ground cinnamon.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
  2. Place eggs in large bowl, beat with a fork or whisk. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie plate.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes – or until center is set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. If desired, add a spoonful of lowfat whpped topping to each serving and sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon.

View the recipe and the video.

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