Your guide to a last-minute Thanksgiving for less than $25

by Sara Knight

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the fridge is empty, the pantry is bare, the slopes are calling. No worries. We got some advice from a pro on a quick, delicious Thanksgiving without breaking the bank or interfering with fun time. Aaron Seitz, owner of College Drive Café, former owner/kitchen manager at Carvers and self-proclaimed turkey, shared some tips on Thanksgiving staples.


Most would agree with Seitz that, “A lot of times, vegetables can be just boring.” Seitz points out though that, “roasted vegetables can be REALLY good.” And even more importantly, veggies are cheap.

A couple of onions

Some sweet potatoes and red potatoes

And whatever (zucchini?)

Enough salt

Oil (Olive oil goes in everything)

Seitz says, “You roast it in a 350-degree oven until the veggies are just soft, at which point the pan is a total mess.” That’s when it gets good.

“You’ve got all of those good flavors in the pan, and nine times out of 10 it’s a drag to clean out, so you clean it out yourself and make a sauce with that,” Seitz says. “A little splash of vinegar in there and then even some water to make a sauce with. It’s so simple and then you drizzle it over the vegetables!”

Total Cost: About $3.75 if you have to buy vinegar and about $2.75 if not.


What’s Thanksgiving without the dressing? “Dressing is SO easy. A loaf of white bread makes the best dressing out there.”

An onion

A head of celery

A bunch of stale bread (about 4 cups)

Chicken stock, or the juice from the roasted veggies could work, too (1.5-2 cups)

Heat the onion, celery and chicken stock (or veggie juices) together in a pan until they are soft, then mix it all with the breadcrumbs and put it back in that 350-degree oven for a half hour.

Total cost: About $6.50 if you buy chicken stock. About $4.50 if not.


“Thaw the turkey in time,” Seitz advises. “You know, honestly, a couple of chickens are pretty great, too. They roast up nice … And they cook fast so you can go skiing all day and still have your dinner fresh. You can get chickens super cheap, too.”

Grab the hens before hitting the slopes. If they’re frozen, toss them in the sink with cold water and leave them there until it’s time to come home and cook. Dry them off and they’ll be ready to rub down with butter, spice up with whatever and toss in a 450-degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Phew!

Total cost: About $8 for 2 cornish hens

Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce. Meh. Seitz recommends an alternative.

1 bag of cranberries (check the bag for directions, too)

A quarter cup of sugar

A little water “You just let it stew on the stove. It’s so much better!” He also adds that, “If you want it to be savory, you just chop up some onion or put some garlic or something in and it comes out really nice. It’s more of a chutney that way.”

Total cost: $3.49 per bag

Pumpkin Pie

Yes, dessert! No, not more cooking? “I love pumpkin pie!” says Seitz. “It’s one of the easiest things ever!”

Two eggs

Some milk (or preferably a 12 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk)

Pumpkin (the can has directions!)

Mix the eggs, the pumpkin and the milk in a bowl. Cinnamon, ginger and cloves are a good addition. Pour it in a pie crust and bake it at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 40-50 minutes while other stuff is going on. Done!

Total Cost: About $6.50 with frozen pie crust

Wow, only $25 and there’s a whole last-minute Thanksgiving spread with some leftovers to boot! Man, shoulda stayed on the slopes longer.


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