Celebrate with a budget-friendly Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Tastebook.comPhoto courtesy of Tastebook.com

Story by Gisselle Hernandez, Assistant Features Editor

While Walmart and other stores may seem to be in a rush to arrive at the end of 2015 (Is it almost over already?) by putting up Christmas decorations early, Thanksgiving is the next holiday on the calendar, and the free home-cooked meal seems to hold a special place in most college kids’ hearts.

To many students, home is where they will be next Thursday, with Aunt Karen’s famous mashed potatoes and Mom’s to-die-for pumpkin pie.

Other students, however, may not be able to go home to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal surrounded by family, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a home-cooked meal with friends. The only thing that’s better than a well-prepared ‘Friendsgiving’ that can make any college student feel at home is a ‘Friendsgiving’ that can be done on a budget.

Here are a few ways to bring the home-iest Thanksgiving into your apartment or residential college without spending too much.

DECORATIONS:

Reuse pumpkins. If you have leftover uncut pumpkins that were used for Halloween decorations, arranging them as decor outside your door or placing them in a grouping might add a pleasant touch to your fall ambiance.

Pine cones and twigs make great, inexpensive decor that can be placed in a bowl and act as a natural centerpiece.

FOOD:

The food is the most important part of Thanksgiving, but also the most expensive.

Having a pot-luck with friends can reduce the expense of the vital turkey and gravy.

One dish can be assigned to each person, such as a dessert or an entree, and this also cuts the expense of the food.

GAMES:

After recovering from the turkey (and waiting for pie), a game you and your friends can play is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Drinking Game.

While watching the parade on TV, when certain things on the list happen, you and your friends take a drink (does not necessarily have to be alcoholic!) Chicago Now published a list of prompts and ideas you all can use to play, such as, “Take a drink whenever a Broadway musical float is featured,” or “take a drink when you hear the word ‘Macy’s.’”

Card games can also be fun while waiting for the turkey to finish baking.

Popular (yet possibly inappropriate) game like Cards Against
Humanity may be very amusing and entertaining to play at your ‘Friendsgiving.’ However, it might not highlight appreciation and friendship as much as you’d like it to at a Thanksgiving dinner, so play at your own discretion.

These ideas should not hurt your pocket, but will still deliver the caliber of an at-home-Thanksgiving.

Photo courtesy of Tastebook.com

Photo courtesy of Tastebook.com

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

Total time: 42 minutes

Ingredients:

Water

6 yams, peeled and cubed into roughly 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (10.5 ounce) package mini marshmallows

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add cubed yams to a large pot and cover with water so there is at least 1 inch of water above yams. Bring pot to a boil over high heat and cook for about 15 minutes, or just until yams are soft but still maintain their shape. Yams should not be too cooked until they fall apart. Drain yams.

Add yams to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle top of yams with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, butter and ground cinnamon, and stir with spoon until ingredients are combined. Spread yams in one even layer. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, until sugar has become syrup-like and yams are tender and cooked through. Remove from oven and then cover top of yams with mini marshmallows. Return to oven and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until top of marshmallows are light golden yellow. Remove from oven and allow yams to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Photo courtesy of minimalistbaker.com

Photo courtesy of minimalistbaker.com

Basic Thanksgiving Stuffing

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 (12 ounce) box of cubed stuffing mix (recommended: cornbread)

2 cups chicken broth (optional: additional 1 cup broth for moister stuffing)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a large casserole dish with butter. Set aside.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt one stick of butter. Add onions and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until translucent and soft. Add stuffing mix and stir until combined. Add broth and stir so that stuffing can absorb liquid. If desired, add another optional 1 cup of broth for moister stuffing. Remove from heat and transfer to buttered casserole dish. Spread in an even layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is crisp.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.