Sunday, October 15, 2017

Easy Holiday Dinner on a Budget

We successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner and now I am eager and inspired to host Christmas dinner as well. Our meal fed 10 and we have a ton of leftovers. Thanks to glass casserole dishes with a lid both prep and clean up were a breeze! In the end we had:
  • a lovely dinner for 10
  • leftover for 8 meals (5 different meals and 4-5 portions/meal) ---> 40 servings
  • All for $30!
  • That's $0.60/serving! 
  • Stress-free clean up -- no clean up the next day! Everything was taken care of in the evening.
Here's how we did it...

The Shopping List:

Most shopping was done at WalMart and all prices are in Canadian dollars. We didn't use everything so this then factors into our monthly shopping as well.

- 1 x 12lb turkey, $15
- 1 package x Ground Pork/Sausage, $2
- 1 x batch carrots, $1.47
- 1 x batch onions, $1.47
- 1 x bundle celery, $1.47
- 1 x box stuffing, $0.77
- 5lb bag of potatoes, $3
- 2 x large yams, $1
- 3 x canned turkey gravy, $3/3
- 1 x canned cranberries, $1
- 2 x canned corn, $1
- 1 x canned creamed corn, $1
- 1 x small bag frozen peas, $1.47
- 1 x red pepper, $0.50

Other ingredients on hand:
- Salt
- Pepper
- Cinnamon
- Brown Sugar
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan
- Rosemary
- Thyme
- Lemon juice
- Chicken stock

The Menu:

  • Roast turkey with Gravy and Cranberries
  • Baked yams with cinnamon and brown sugar
  • Bake potatoes with Parmesan (I was going to add sauteed spinach but opted out at the last minute)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Creamed Corn
  • Corn Niblets
  • Peas
  • Carrots 
  • Rolls/Croissants
  • Raw veggie platter: carrots, celery and peppers
  • We had so much food, I also opted out of a spinach salad but it would have added good colour to the table.

The Dishes:

  • We use glasses dishes with lids to make for seamless prep, re-heating and clean up. These dishes made a HUGE difference for a stress-free meal. They have been worth the investment, for sure!
  • Additional: tinfoil

The prep & "cooking"... 

it was so simple, not sure I can fully call this cooking:
  1. Peel and dice the yams - toss with olive oil, 1tsp cinnamon, 2 x tsp brown sugar; cover with tinfoil; bake in oven at 350F for 60 minutes; remove from oven and let sit until reheating.
  2.  Peel and dice potatoes; dice onions - toss with olive oil, salt/pepper & diced onions; cover with tinfoil; add to oven, bake at 350F for 45 minutes ; remove from oven and let sit until reheating. (Just prior to reheating, add Parmesan). 
  3. Peel and dice more potatoes, boil in chicken stock for the mashed potatoes
  4.  Prep the turkey - remove the innards, scream as you do... cube some onions, add a dash of lemon juice, 2 x tsp rosemary and 1 x tsp thyme.... toss this combo into the bird's cavity; tie the legs and coat the bird in olive oil. 
  5. Once the yams and potatoes are done; remove from oven and let sit. Turn oven down to 300F and let the bird cook.
  6. Pending timing, you can start cooking the sausage meat for the stuffing before prepping the bird. I timed it so one item came out of the oven and the bird went in.
  7. Dice onions and celery; add to the sausage meat.
  8. In a separate pan, prepare the stuffing from a box as per the box instructions.
  9.  Once the sausage mixture is cooked, layer on the bottom of a casserole dish; top with the stuffing form a box mixture. Let stuffing sit until reheating just before guests arrive.
  10. Open the cans/bag and separate out the peas, corn, creamed corn, cranberries & gravy
  11. When you remove the turkey to let stand before carving; turn the oven to 325F and heat up yams, potatoes & stuffing. I microwaved the peas and corn.

The left-overs:

Turkey soup: 

Made 3 x family portions (15 servings):
  1. Cover the carcass with water, brought to a boil on the stove and transferred to the crockpot to simmer overnight.  
  2. Strain the juice; the meat from the carcass as best as you can
  3. Dice some of the left over turkey, carrots and celery; add to soup.
  4. Before serving, I added 1 pack of Lipton chicken noodle soup to a family portion. The remaining was set aside before adding the noodles and put in the freezer.

Turkey Leftover Casserole:

Essentially a reverse shepherd's pie... made 1 x family portion in the freezer
  1. Layer mashed potatoes in bottom of casserole dish; add layer of turkey meat; add layer of stuffing mixture.
  2. I have in the freezer as is; with thaw and bake at 350 for 30 minutes; top with gravy and serve with peas. 

Turkey Enchilada Casserole:

  1. Prep the tortillas
  2. Prep the enchilada sauce -- we always have this homemade version on hand
  3. Layer: turkey tossed in enchilada sauce; cheese; tortilla; cheese; turkey tossed in enchilada sauce; cheese; tortilla; enchilada sauce; cheese. 

Turkey Corn Chowder:

This is a suggestion as I didn't cook up the full 5lb bag of potatoes. If I had, I would have also made turkey corn chowder which is an excellent one-pot meal! Substitute out the chicken from this recipe with turkey for that amazing meal! 

Additional Notes:

  • Our guests brought the rolls/croissants, wine & dessert.
  • We did have dessert on hand as well: $5 pumpkin pie & some cool whip... We sent one of the guests home with the dessert they brought for their family dinner the next day as we just had too much.


  • The yams were a hit and we will definitely make them again! 
  • I will batch up more mashed potatoes next time to make some turkey corn chowder as well. 
  • The value in products, makes me offering up to host Christmas dinner as well. It was so easy and my freezer is now well stocked for the month.  
  • Having the guests bring the rolls, wine and dessert helped make a huge difference on keeping the meal to a budget and all details accounted for. I need to acknowledge that! 
  • Overall, it was a great success --- most noted but the eager willingness to host the next family dinner.