Celebrating on a Tight Budget

Dear FlyLady,

Our finances are tight this year and I seem to remember you posting an essay about making a Thanksgiving Dinner on a shoestring budget. Will you please re-send it.

Struggling in Tennessee

Dear Friends,

Did you know that you cook an Thanksgiving Dinner on a shoestring? I will never forget one Christmas that I could not afford to go home for the holidays. I was determined to fix something that resembles Turkey and Dressing. The only issue was we had no extra money.

I remembered that we had been putting our pocket change into a jar. I went to the bedroom and poured the money out on the bed. There was 23.82. I don’t know why I can still remember that number, but it seems just like it was yesterday; even though it was over twenty years ago.

So I sat there and decided to cook the best meal I could with what little I had. I was blessed to have pantry with the basics: Flour, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, milk, and butter and I knew how to cook.

I had never really made cornbread dressing but I could figure it out. I had watched my mother-in-law make it for years out of leftover cornbread and a few biscuits. So now I needed to make a grocery list. I did a quick inventory of our freezer. I found a pack of chicken thighs and a bag of green beans. What else did I need?

No southern holiday dinner is complete without sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.  I also needed onions, sage, pumpkin pie spice, 4 sweet potatoes, 8 big potatoes, a bag of cranberries, a bag of marshmallows, a can of pumpkin, and can of evaporated milk.

After a grocery store run, I made a pan of cornbread and a pan of biscuits. I crumbled up the cornbread, added a couple of biscuits in it. I added a sauteed onion, some sage, and chicken broth. Oh I boiled my chicken thighs to make the broth. As soon as the chicken was done I took it off bone and put bones and skin back into broth pot. I saved half the broth for my gravy. I boiled six eggs. Made a homemade pie crust and put together my pumpkin pie. With the green beans cooked, potatoes mashed all I needed was to scoop out the sweet potatoes after I had baked them and put the marshmallows on them. Then I made my gravy.

I set the table and looked at the feast I had prepared. It wasn’t fancy but it made a sad Christmas easier to get through. Sometimes the act of cooking brings back the good things about the holidays. Take your time over the next couple of days and be thankful for what you have and how you learned to cook. Teach your children. Share the stories with them.

Are you ready to FLY though the holiday with a can do attitude?


Please don’t ask me for recipes. I am a traditional southern cook and don’t use them. They are all a pinch of this and a dash of that. I did find a blog from a friend of mine, Martha has some great recipes from where I grew up in West Tennessee. Check out my Youtube Cooking Videos for Thanksgiving.

Before you start cooking; fill up your sink with hot soapy water! You will be glad you did!

If you need Leanne’s Menu Mailer for Thanksgiving then send me an email to FlyLady@flylady.net with TURKEY in the subject line.

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