Thanksgiving on a budget? Consider these creative recipes

  • Brined chicken legs are a budget-friendly option for Thanksgiving.

    Brined chicken legs are a budget-friendly option for Thanksgiving. Courtesy of Biz Velatini

 
 
Updated 11/20/2023 6:34 AM

Thanksgiving is a time when the aroma of gratitude fills the air and the kitchen alike.

Contrary to the belief that a feast requires a bottomless budget, crafting a memorable Thanksgiving meal can be a triumph of thriftiness. Opt for seasonal produce and sales on staples to keep costs in check. Get creative with recipes, transforming humble ingredients into stars of the show.

 

This holiday season, let the warmth of your kitchen radiate from the oven and the satisfaction of a delicious, budget-conscious feast. We have a menu below for eight people (under $40!) to enjoy a deliciously cozy and cost-effective meal that doesn't sacrifice flavor.

First off, brining the chicken will give you a similar feel to the traditional turkey, but at a much lower cost! Brines are great for keeping the meat juicy as it bakes, so we don't wind up with dried-out protein. The skin gets nice and crispy, but the meat stays perfectly cooked and moist.

A Tater Tot casserole is a standout side. This hearty and cheesy dish keeps everyone coming back for seconds! It's simplistic, easy to throw together and make ahead, and a total crowd-pleaser.

Would it even be Thanksgiving without green beans? Instead of a traditional green bean casserole (often also budget-friendly), these Parmesan green beans are a spruced-up way to enjoy green beans with crunchy Parmesan bits. This is kicked up another notch with some chili crisp drizzled on top for extra depth of flavor and a slight hint of heat.

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• My Bizzy Kitchen runs once a month in Food. Follow Biz Velatini on her blog at mybizzykitchen.com/, on Instagram at instagram.com/mybizzykitchen/?hl=en and Facebook at facebook.com/mybizzykitchen.

Juicy Brined Oven Baked Chicken Legs

For the brine:

8 cups water

cup vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

1/3 cup salt

5 cloves garlic

2 lemons, sliced

cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 sprigs rosemary

4 sprigs thyme

2 sage leaves

For the chicken legs:

16 chicken legs

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

In a large stock pot, bring everything in the brine ingredient list to a boil. Remove from heat and make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cool completely.

In a large container (I used two containers for my chicken legs) divide the brine between the two containers, making sure the chicken legs are submerged.

Brine for 12 hours.

Remove from brine and add chicken legs to a large bowl of water and let sit for 15 minutes to remove any excess salt.

Dry each leg completely with paper towels. Add to a rack above a baking sheet and let sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours to let the skin dry out.

To cook the chicken: In a large bowl, add the oil and toss the chicken in the oil.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and seasonings together.

Toss over chicken and toss to coat.

Stretch the skin over the chicken.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Serves 8

Biz Velatini

Tater Tot casserole makes a simply scrumptious side for Thanksgiving.
Tater Tot casserole makes a simply scrumptious side for Thanksgiving. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Tater Tot Casserole

2 28-ounce bags of Tater Tots (don't need to be defrosted)

1 can cheddar cheese soup (10.5 ounces)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (10.5 ounces)

cup milk

2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix everything together, saving 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Mix until well combined and place in a large casserole dish sprayed with avocado oil spray.

Top with remaining cup of cheese and bake for 45 minutes. Optional: broil the last 5 minutes on high. This will get the cheese nice and brown and bubbly!

Serves 8

Biz Velatini

This Parmesan green bean dish is a crunchier alternative to the traditional casserole.
This Parmesan green bean dish is a crunchier alternative to the traditional casserole. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Parmesan Green Beans

2 pounds green beans, stems removed

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

teaspoon salt

teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic

cup shaved Parmesan

2 teaspoons chili crisp (optional)

In a large microwave safe bowl, add the green beans and cook for five minutes. Set aside.

Add in the oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and garlic and toss the green beans to coat.

Add parmesan cheese over the top and broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melty.

Garnish with optional chili crisp if you like a bit of spice.

Serves 8

Biz Velatini

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