One of the best things about a Thanksgiving meal is often the side dishes that go with it. They add color, taste, texture and variety on the plate and they are also a really good way to save money. Plan on serving 4 to 8 ounces of turkey to your guests, but let them load their plates and fill their stomachs with inexpensive side dishes. I love to bring side dishes to our potluck Thanksgiving. And, I love to eat the ones everyone else brings! Here are some great ideas for side dishes that won't break the bank!
1. Flaky Biscuits
Biscuits are great as a bread on the side and perfect for mopping up gravy. They are warm, filling, and the smell when they bake really says it is holiday time. If you can make biscuits from scratch...more power to you. I am a frozen biscuit or canned biscuit kind of girl (especially when I am preparing a BIG meal).
Cornbread is another cheap, easy and filling option. Bake up a few pans of it to use as is, or in other recipes. Use any leftovers at breakfast the next morning. Cornbread is a staple in our cornbread dressing here in the South.
3. Cornbread Stuffing
You can also make stuffing using your own homemade cornbread. Cut it into cubes, toast them, and then cook as you would bread stuffing. If you aren't into making homemade cornbread, it's ok to use the mix and help you get a little further with your preparations. Cornbread mix is not expensive at all. This is what I bring to Thanksgiving at my sister's house and it is a crowd pleaser!
4. Cranberry Sauce
Fresh cranberry sauce is easy to make. When making it yourself, you can adjust the sugar, add orange or apple juice for natural sweetness, and so on. If you choose to use the canned cranberry sauce, it is on sale always around the holidays.
5. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
This cheerful orange vegetable is very cheap and will go a long way towards filling up your guests. Cook in the microwave like a baked potato and top with some brown sugar or cinnamon, or boil up a pot to mash for a sweet potato casserole.
To the mashed sweet potato, add milk, butter, brown sugar and/or maple syrup, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake and eat as is, or add a layer of marshmallows to the top and cook until just brown and puffy. Some people do a crunchy topping that is to die for.
6. Bread Stuffing
Bread stuffing is a great way to use up any stale bread you might have. Make sure it is dry, not moldy. Mix with herbs. Add onions, celery and broth and you have a filling dish to stuff a whole turkey with, or serve on the side.
7. Corn/Corn on the Cob
Corn is very filling, and eating from the cob can be a lot of fun. You can also eat with a little butter, or make your own homemade creamed corn with milk. I like to cut the corn off of the cob and fry it in a skillet with a little butter, salt and pepper...OMG...My sister make a corn casserole that I look forward to every year and it is quick and easy too.
8. Green Bean Casserole
This is a staple on many American holiday tables. Most people make it using canned cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans and a can of French-fried onions. These items are all readily accessible and inexpensive at your local grocery store. If you choose to make them with fresh green beans, that's awesome too! I also bring this to my sister's house and to my in-laws every year. One year I thought maybe they were all tired of it, so I skipped it....won't EVER do that again! I had some family members unhappy with me. Basically, don't fix it if it ain't broke.
9. Potatoes au Gratin
If you want something a bit more elegant for your holiday table, slice up the potatoes thinly and cook them in a creamy cheese sauce.
10. Baked Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes
Nothing could be easier than some baked Idaho potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives, or cheese. They are cheap and filling, and add a restaurant-touch to your homemade meal. If you are more of a mashed potato family, just mash them while they are hot and add your butter, salt and milk to them and voila'! Mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.
So whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or attending a potluck Thanksgiving, these are some great ideas of side dishes that are inexpensive and easy. Add them to your list of goodies to bring or serve and I promise, your guests (or you) will leave with a happy tummy!
Happy Side Dish Making,