Thursday, November 27, 2014

Living life on a budget. Our $11 Thanksgiving Dinner

It is that time of year again, the holidays are here and the corporations are in full swing selling us everything under the sun. We as a society have become so confused with what is a want and what is a need that we get ourselves into such predicaments. Yesterday on the Rachel Ray show they had a viewer on who felt she had to provide perfect Thanksgiving for her children so she spent her gas money on a $35 turkey. Please understand that I am not in any way bashing this woman. She is a single mother working two jobs to provide for her children. She is doing everything in her power to do what she feels she has to do for her children.

I am however bashing a consumer driven society that has made this woman feel like if she can not give her children the perfect Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving she is somehow lacking as a mother. It is one meal. ONE MEAL in which we are to come together as a family to thank the Lord for the many blessings He has given us through the year. Do you think the Lord cares if you have a turkey? Or do you think the Lord cares that you were a responsible steward of the resources He gave you?

We as a society have be come so confused on what is a want and what is a need. You need to have food. You want a turkey with all the trimmings so that you can check some invisible box on a checklist that society made for you. We get so caught up in buying things we are told we need to make happy memories for our children. You know what? I never had a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner as a child yet I have only the best memories of Thanksgiving. We would all get together as a family at my grandparents house and have chicken and dumplings. Every year. Like clockwork. Those are some of my fondest memories of my childhood. Just being together and spending time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We spent the day talking and just being together.....without a turkey. Every time I make dumplings I think of my grandmother and the Thanksgiving dinners throughout the years. I wouldn't have traded even one of those dinners for a traditional Normal Rockwell meal.

Our children look to us as role models and base their reactions to situations off of our reactions. If you are happy and content with your circumstances that is what they will remember throughout the years. If instead you are stressed and crying because you feel you failed your children by not being able to live up to some standard set by people you don't even know trust me they will remember that as well.

As I mentioned in my last post we are on a very strict grocery budget. I budget $4.70 per meal and that is for EVERY meal........even Thanksgiving. The national average a family spends on Thanksgiving is $54.18 That is about $50 too high for me. When planning this years Thanksgiving dinner I decided to allocate $9 to the meal since I assumed we would have leftovers the next night thus eliminating the cost of the second meal.

How was I going to pull off Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people for $9? I needed some creativity to be sure.

I started with the protein since it is the star of the show on Thanksgiving. As I shared earlier we make the protein component an accent to our meals. How could I do this on Thanksgiving when a large turkey or ham is the centerpiece of the meal? I gave my husband two options. A turkey meatloaf or a very small ham. He chose ham (big surprise!). While at the grocery store I had heart failure over the prices of hams. $30??? Are you serious? Nope. Not gonna happen. So while standing in the middle of the store I made a command decision. Ham was out and Pork tenderloin was in. I decided to cook a tenderloin I already had in our freezer at home, slice it thinly, and add a brown sugar glaze to turn it into a "honey baked ham".

Now on to the sides. I had 2 small bags of green beans in the freezer and half a bag of potatoes in the I added green beans and chunks of potatoes to the crockpot with the pork tenderloin. I also really like soups and how about a Curried Butternut Squash Soup? Yes please! Bonus points because I already had a butternut squash in the pantry waiting to be used for something this week. (I just made the soup portion of the recipe substituting in skim milk for coconut milk and left out the bread bowl and toppings part of the recipe.)

Every Thanksgiving dinner needs rolls, at least in our family, so I made a double batch of these Italian Rolls from items already in our pantry. What is bread without butter? Pretty boring if you ask me so I threw together a quick batch of super yummy whipped honey butter.

Dessert is a must at our house for Thanksgiving. I needed a cheap option this year and decided to go with a family favorite, Banoffe pie. Bananas, homemade toffee, and whipped cream.....really who wouldn't love it?

So how did we manage on the budget front?
Pork Tenderloin: Freezer
Green Beans: Freezer
Potatoes: Pantry
Brown sugar glaze: Pantry
Butternut squash soup: $2.69 for a gallon of milk, 3/4 the gallon left for future meals
Rolls: Pantry
Honey butter: $3.49 for a lb of butter, 2 sticks left for future meals
Banoffe Pie: $4.35

Total for the meal: $10.53

Yes I went over budget by $1.53, the extra was covered by a ATM surcharge rebate that was credited to our account the morning of our shopping trip and had not been added to a budget category yet. We could have done the entire meal from our pantry if money had been super tight this year.  I felt it was worth it for the gallon of milk and the butter both of which can be used in future meals. I wanted to get eggs as well since we had run out that morning and the girls wanted to make chocolate chip cookies but I drew the line at going any farther over budget. We will live without cookies or eggs for a few days till the next budgeted grocery shopping day.

Is this the traditional Thanksgiving meal? No.
Was it yummy? Yes.
Did it fill our stomachs and leave us thankful for the meal and all of the Lords provisions this year? Yes.
Did my children care that there was not a traditional turkey or ham? No.
Did they care that they had pie to eat? Yes.

Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that matter. Time with family, thankfulness for the Lords provisions, and pie.

1 comments on "Living life on a budget. Our $11 Thanksgiving Dinner"

Vicki on November 28, 2014 at 9:38 AM said...

Thats awesome! Im sure your dinner was amazing!


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