Dorm Friendsgiving on a Budget

Photo by Stefan Vladimirov on Unsplash

My childhood kitchen was a mess of dirty dishes around every corner, children below counter height running around and mishaps with my grandmother’s homemade cranberry sauce being splattered on cabinet doors and across our dining table. Thanksgiving is a great time to gather together, but feeding many people can get expensive. For a dorm Friendsgiving before returning home for the holiday, several budget-friendly options can keep both your stomach and your wallet full.

Turkey Cutlets: Rather than a complete, ten-pound, turkey roast that will take hours of painstaking preparation and labor in a small dorm kitchen, substitute the trouble for turkey cutlets. They can be found at most grocery stores for much less than a full turkey and do not require carving. Plus, cooking time is significantly reduced. Sprouts on Rosecrans Street or Trader Joe’s on Truxtun Road offer pre-prepared and ready-to-cook cutlets.

Canned Gravy: Don’t get me wrong, homemade gravy is liquid gold, but when it comes to optimizing the use of your time and money, canned gravy is a better option. Trader Joe’s has a fantastic pre-packaged turkey gravy for less than $2 that can be prepared in a microwave. One box will be plenty for a small gathering of around five people.

Mashed Potatoes: Alongside gravy, homemade mashed potatoes are a staple piece in a Thanksgiving spread, but not everyone has the space for a large pot and cooking materials for this centerpiece dish. Found at most grocery stores in the area, including Target, Trader Joe’s and Jensen’s, boxed and frozen mashed potatoes are an excellent choice. 

Biscuits: Who can deny a warm and buttery biscuit? While it is one of the easiest items to acquire at a grocery store, it is also the easiest to make yourself in a dorm kitchen. Even so, ingredient prices would surpass the convenience of popping pre-mixed dough into the oven for a few minutes. Unless you want a five-pound bag of unbleached all-purpose flour lying around your dorm, stick to the store biscuits. “Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers” sell for around $3 at many grocery stores. 

Apple Cider Muddy Buddies: What is Thanksgiving without a sweet treat to end the evening? Apple Cider Muddy Buddies are a comfort treat, mainly because it is both a sweet crowd pleaser and a motivating study snack. These muddy buddies blend a subtle spice with sweetness in a  mixture of soft and crunchy textures. All of the ingredients can be purchased for under $10 total at any local grocery store. 

  • Ingredients:
    • 5 cups rice Chez cereal
    • 1 bag (12 ounces) white chocolate chips, melted
    • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 packet (0.74 ounces) apple cider mix
  • Directions:
    • Add the powdered sugar and the apple cider mix into a plastic bag and shake to combine.
    • Put the Chex mix cereal into a large bowl.
    • Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave for 45 seconds and stir until smooth. If not fully melted, microwave for an additional 10 second increments until you have reached the desired consistency. Careful not to burn the chocolate.
    • Pour the melted chocolate over the Chex cereal and mix until the cereal is coated. Add the cereal to the dry ingredient plastic bag and shake until the cereal is completely coated.

Written By: Rachel Grace Heckle