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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Homemade Pumpkin Pie and Our Favorite Apple Pie

Homemade Pumpkin Pie
by Erin at $5 Dinners

Crust Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening or butter
2-4 Tablespoons COLD water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place flour in mixing bowl; add butter and cut in with pastry blender.


Add salt and then add COLD water 1 Tablespoon at a time. Mix/toss with fork until dough ball forms.


Place in plastic wrap or Ziploc baggie and put into the refrigerator
while you make the filling. Make filling (see directions below) while
dough is in the fridge.Take dough ball from fridge and place on lightly
floured surface. Roll out into a circle at least 12 inches in diameter
and gently fold pie crust into quarters.


Move pie crust from counter to pie plate.  Unfold. Flute edges in your favorite design. Pour filling into pie shell. Place pie crust shield over the top or use foil to make a shield to keep the crust edges from burning
or turning dark brown while baking. Bake pie at 425 for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake
another 40-50 minutes, until center of pie is done. If
you want a darker crust, remove the foil or pie crust shield 10 minutes
before pie is finished.

Filling Ingredients
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon (You can substitute 2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for above 3 spices)
2 large eggs
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk


Place all ingredients in baking bowl. Blend with mixer or stand
mixer on low for 2-3 minutes. Set aside until pie crust is prepared
and pour into the pie crust. Cost: approximately $2.50 to $3 per pie

Our Favorite Apple Pie

This is one of our family's very favorite pies. If I'm able to snag a good deal on apples, this is one of the first things I think of making. It takes a little bit of work, but once you've made it, it's so worth it! And Thanksgiving wouldn't quite be the same without this pie–though it's great year-round, too!

(Confession Time: I had every intention of making up a fresh pie and
taking pictures of it for you, but time slipped away from me this week.
So I'll just let you imagine how beautiful this pie turns out! Think
something like this.)

Pie crust (uncooked, see recipe above or use your favorite recipe)
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples (about 2 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons butter

Prepare and roll out pie crust. Line pie pan with it and flute edges. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add in apples and gently toss until coated. Transfer apple mixture to the pie crust. Dot apples with butter. Set aside.

Prepare crumb topping ingredients by stirring together 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in 3 Tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over apples in pie pan. Cover edges of pie with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes more or until fruit is tender and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack. This is especially delicious served with freshly-whipped cream or Breyer's vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Money Saving Mom’s Favorite Roll Recipe

If you don't normally make homemade rolls for Thanksgiving, you might just want to consider taking a little extra effort to make these rolls this year. They are just that good. In fact, I've tried literally hundreds of roll recipes over the years and this recipe is hands-down the best one I've ever made.

These are best served within an hour or two of making, though, so if you're planning to serve them on Thanksgiving, you'll want to make sure and allow extra time to whip up the dough. While it's rising, you can do your last minute Thanksgiving meal preparations and then stick these in the oven to bake an hour or so before you're planning to eat.

Yes, it's a little bit of extra work but I think you and your guests will agree it was worth it!


Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

(Recipe modified slightly from the original recipe found at Tammy's Recipes–a cooking blog you ought to be reading, if you're not already!)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cup warm milk
¼ cup butter, softened or melted
2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (I usually use one can of pumpkin.)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup wheat germ (can omit and use flour instead)
10-12 cup all-purpose flour (I usually use a mixture of whole-wheat and white flours. I'd recommend going about 1/3 whole-wheat to 2/3 white flour.)
7 teaspoons dry yeast

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt. Mix well. Add wheat germ, 7-8 cups of the flour, and yeast. Mix, and then
continue adding flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not

Place dough in greased bowl; grease top of dough, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch dough down and divide into thirds. Divide each third into 16 pieces and shape into balls.

Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden. Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. (Note: These rolls usually look somewhat dry when first coming out of the oven. Wait about 15 minutes and they will look and taste beautifully. Don't ask me why, but that's how it always works for me!)

Yield: 4 dozen rolls (If you're not expecting a large crowd for Thanksgiving, I'd recommend halfing the recipe. I often do this for smaller groups and it works great!)

Up Next: $5 Dinner Mom's Pumpkin Pie recipe and Our Favorite French Apple Pie recipe

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Green Vegetables

By Erin at $5 Dinners

Each of these green vegetable dishes are not only healthy and lower in
calories than a traditional casserole, they won't take up any space in
the oven. Each vegetable can be prepared on the stove top and won't
need any of that precious "Thanksgiving morning oven time"!


Green Beans and Garlic
2 lb. fresh green beans
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Snap or cut the stems off the green beans. Rinse well and pat dry.


Place oil in skillet and set heat to medium-high. Add green beans and garlic slices. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until green beans turn a brighter green. Serves 8-12. Cost: approximately $4

Sauteed Asparagus
2 lb. fresh asparagus
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Snap the ends off the asparagus. Hold each end of the asparagus and push ends together away from you. Allow the asparagus to "naturally" snap. Rinse and pat dry. About 15 minutes before sautéing the asparagus, drizzle oil over the asparagus and let sit. Saute asparagus with olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet for 4-5 minutes. The asparagus will turn brighter green. It is ready to serve! Serves 8-12. Cost: $3.50


Lemon Broccoli
8-12 heads of broccoli

Steam broccoli in steamer for 3-5 minutes. Slice fresh lemon into 6-8 wedges. Serve lemon wedges next to broccoli and suggest that guests squeeze lemon over their broccoli. Serves 8-12. Cost: approximately $6


What are your favorite vegetables to serve at Thanksgiving? The traditional green bean casserole or something else? I'd love to hear!

Up Next: Our Favorite Roll Recipe

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Note from Crystal: For the record, cranberry sauce would also be an area my minimalistic nature would nix. (I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking you'd never want to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at my house by now, seeing as I already said I think stuffing is a non-essential, too!)

However, I know that to many of you, Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. And so I present Erin's Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce:

Homemade Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
by Erin at $5 Dinners

This sauce costs approximately $1.50 to make one batch. Not only is it fairly frugal but it' also doesn't contains any preservatives or additives!


1 lb. fresh cranberries (these are on sale at Aldi this week for $0.99!)
1 orange, juiced
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
¼ cup sugar

Rinse cranberries. Pick out any cranberries that are white in color or have "gushy" spots. Place cranberries in sauce pan with 2 inches of water, or apple juice. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. While boiling, add the juice from one orange. I squeeze it over a strainer to prevent seeds from dropping into the sauce. Add 1 teaspoon orange zest to the sauce. Cranberries will "pop" while boiling!


Add ¼ cup sugar to the cranberries. Alternative sweeteners include apple juice concentrate, orange juice (from a sweet orange), honey, Stevia or Splenda. Add more sweetener for sweeter sauce, or less sweetener for a more tart sauce. Add ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground ginger. Allow sauce to sit for at least 10 minutes to "thicken" a bit more.

Other mix-in ideas: fresh apples, cooked with the sauce, or raw for some crunchiness; walnuts, pecans or other nuts; crushed Pineapple.


Just for fun: Do you usually serve cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving dinner? If so, do you normally serve homemade or store bought?

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Sweet Potato Casserole and Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

If you've never had this sweet potato casserole before, let me tell you,
you're in for a treat. Even if you don't normally like sweet potatoes,
you'll want to try this because I'm guessing this is one sweet potato
dish you will eat and like.

Best of all, it's simple and fairly economical–especially if you
can snag a deal on sweet potatoes. (By the way, Aldi has them on sale
this week at $0.99 for three pounds so you should go scoop some up
there if you have an Aldi store close by!)


Our Sweet Potato Casserole

4 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cups milk
6 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
chopped pecans, optional

Mix first six ingredients together and spread in a 9×13-inch dish. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes approximately 10 servings. This can be made the day before Thanksgiving and kept in the refrigerator and baked on Thanksgiving morning.


Our Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

15 small to medium potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sour cream (can use plain yogurt)
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cut and boil potatoes leaving the skins on (unless you prefer them skinless). Use mixer, Bosch, food processor, or KitchenAid to mash potatoes and add in the rest of the ingredients. Place potato mixer in a slightly greased 9×13-inch. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes approximately 8 servings.

These potatoes can be made the day before Thanksgiving and kept in the refrigerator and baked on Thanksgiving morning. Or, if you're really brave, you might try Amy's method of freezing and reheating in the crock pot.

Up Next: $5 Dinner Mom's recipe for Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce and her recipe for some easy green veggies for a healthful side.

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Turkey, Gravy, and Stuffing

While all of the other recipes we actually made ahead of time so we could share pictures along with the recipes, Erin and I decided against actually making a turkey ahead of time. However, we wanted to share some great links we found to help you in making your turkey and also some ideas and suggestions for getting a great deal on a turkey.

Buying a Turkey

Most stores are running sales on turkeys right now so it's a great time to buy turkey. The rule of thumb is to buy a bird that is as many pounds of meat as persons you are expecting to be at your Thanksgiving meal. So if you're planning to have 15 people at your Thanksgiving dinner, you'll want to buy a turkey that is somewhere around 15 pounds. I'm sure you could squeak by with a few pounds less, though, without anyone noticing.

Check around to all stores in your area before buying to see which store has the best deal. Many stores also offer a discount or even a free turkey if you spend a certain amount in one transaction the week of Thanksgiving or the week before Thanksgiving. These deals are great to take advantage of, provided you will actually already be spending that amount of money.

Cooking a Turkey

There's a great step-by-step photo tutorial from The Pioneer Woman here on roasting a turkey. And here's lots of helpful information on roasting a turkey from Butterball–and there's even an instructional video you can watch.

If you're having a smaller gathering for Thanksgiving and want to keep it simple, you might consider just doing turkey breasts in the crock pot. Click here for detailed instructions on how to do that.

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary to do with your turkey? You could consider deep-frying it or grilling it.

Making the Gravy

You can make gravy with the pan drippings (see recipe here) or with the giblets (see recipe here). If you've never made gravy before, check out The Pioneer Woman's photo-rich instructions here.

Stuffing: Do You Really Need It?

Okay folks, here's where my simplistic nature comes into play: I don't really think stuffing is a must. I mean sure, most folks serve it as a sort of obligatory part of the Thanksgiving dinner every year, but if you're trying to keep things easy, it is something you could skip.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking I'm nuts. If so and stuffing is something your Thanksgiving menu would not be complete without, then by all means go for it. I'd say to save yourself the trouble of actually stuffing your bird and to just make a pan of it on the side. Use your family's favorite recipe (if you have one), find the boxed mixes on sale and spruce them up a little, or try out The Pioneer Woman's recipe here (her recipe looks great but isn't very budget conscious).

I'd love to hear from you: What are your best ideas for buying an economical turkey? How do you usually cook your turkey? And do you consider stuffing an essential Thanksgiving menu item?

Up next: Our Sweet Potato casserole and Make-Ahead mashed potatoes