7 Incredibly Cheap and Easy Thanksgiving Sides

Let’s face it. Not all of us are Pinterest cooks!  We are millennials. Yes, we are able to hold down a job and work our butts off, but not all of us have money to splurge on all our relatives for the holidays. Thanksgiving can add even more pressure because the family expects us to contribute to the dinner AND cook something homemade. Some family member will turn their noses up at the thought of “Store Bought” pies and canned cranberry sauce.  Little do they know, cooking is just not on our priority lists of the 100 things we deal with daily. Plus, we budget our bills but Thanksgiving dinner is an extra expense. Especially knowing that December Holidays like Christmas and Hannukah are just around the corner!  So this post will be our little secret. Here’s our incognito list for quick, easy, and super affordable Thanksgiving sides. Ssshhh….

1. Green Beans

It’s healthy and you can make a bunch for cheap!  At about $2 a pound for fresh green beans. You can get a few pounds depending on the size of your family.  Cut off the small stringy portion on the ends and toss them. Then, chop them into about two-inch pieces. After that, place a small amount of oil in the pan and saute them until they are a deep soft green.  I like to season them with a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you like a bit of spice you can add a few red pepper flakes. Easy-Peasy, you have a homemade On of the Thanksgiving sides that your grandmother will be proud of.

2.  Sweet Potatoes

These are about $1 each.  Select a few depending on the size of your guests.  Take a peeler and peel the skin. Chop them up in large dices.  Then put them in a bowl with a bit of olive oil, like a couple of tablespoons,  and a dash of some cinnamon.  Mix the potatoes and oil in the bowl. Then, put them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave them for about 5 mins or until they are soft. Yes, microwave them!  I promised easy right! Trust me, try it! They will be perfect and your family will say they are delicious!

3.  Black Beans

This post wouldn’t be easy Thanksgiving sides if we didn’t cheat a bit.  We are not making beans from scratch. Buy a few cans of black beans for about $1 a can.  Try to find black beans already canned with garlic or spicy jalapenos. I really like the Simple Orangic Truth Spicy Black Beans.  Open the cans, carefully pour at least half of the juices out, and put them in a large pot. Heat them until they are bowling and let them simmer on low heat for about 10mins.  Make sure to stir occasionally. When they are no longer watery and they have a thicker consistency, they are ready. They are already seasoned but you can add fresh garlic, garlic powder, or Italian spices.  Your family will say they are so good.  It’ll be our secret that they were canned!

4.  Thanksgiving side Rice

You probably already know how to cook rice.  However, it is so simple that we may forget this is actually a great Thanksgiving side.  It goes with all the Thanksgiving meats! Try Uncle Ben’s Rice it has a shorter cooking time.  If you need reminding, put the rice in water. Turn the fire up until it is boiling. Once it boils, simmers the rice with the lid on for about 15 – 20mins.  Be sure to fluff the rice with a fork when it is finished. Add a little (or LOTTLE) of butter for taste! Simple, Cheap, and Tasty!

5.   Ready Pac Salad

It’s got Ready in the name so you know it’s easy! There are lots of variations you can try.  Asian Style and Kale with Walnuts and Dried Raspberries. They are about $2 – $3 per salad pack. It usually includes lettuce or kale, toppings, and salad dressings.  Check out the local grocery for the varieties of Ready Pac salads. This Thanksgiving side should be made right before the Thanksgiving event. Place the contents in a large serving salad bowl.  Put the dressing on at the last moment possible. Your in-laws will be asking for the recipe! Wink Wink!

6.  Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberry sauce as a Thanksgiving side can seem daunting to make.  I promise it is super easy. It’s about $3 for one pack of fresh cranberries. Freshly made cranberry sauce is also a big HIT at Thanksgiving! Mine is always eaten super fast even though it’s not that hard to make.  It’s basically getting the raw cranberries and boiling them with some sugar. Your family will be begging you to make this every year and they will never want a can of cranberry sauce again. This recipe takes a little more precision with amounts so check out the more detailed recipe from Food Network here

7.  Jello for Dessert

There’s always room for….okay I won’t say it!  Seriously though, Jello is easy to make. It’s not exactly part of Thanksgiving sides but it’s inexpensive and a great simple dessert for the holidays.  It’s about $1 for a box. You can even put some cut up apples, blueberries, and/or raspberries, in the dishes to spruce it up. However, that would add to the expense. Follow the recipe on the box.  Basically, it takes adding the jello to hot water, pouring the water in a large rectangular glass baking dish, and letting it chill. You may need a few packets to get the amount you want. Just serve it chilled right out of the baking dish.  Guests can cut it with a pie server to eat. If you choose an orange or bright red color, it’s an easy and festive dessert for Thanksgiving that looks great on the dessert table.

There you go. These are cheap, easy, and delicious Thanksgiving sides to help you still make a homemade impressive dish. Your family doesn’t have to know that you picked these because they are low cost or easy. They will be too busy rubbing their bellies and telling funny stories to notice. Besides, even if they did know, who cares, Thanksgiving is about family and you did your part to make the day more special! Still, I won’t tell….shhhhh!

Will you try any of these Thanksgiving sides? Did I forget any really good easy side dishes? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Also if you are looking for other cheap ideas during the holidays, check out my last post, “Being Generous on a Tight Budget”.

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About Teri Johnson 23 Articles
Find me drinking coffee in the AM and wine in the PM.

4 Comments

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I was going for those who get scared to contribute to the meal because they don’t really cook or they’re low on time and money. So I was trying to suggest items easy for anyone but that they might not think about normally for Thanksgiving! Anyway, yes I cook sweet potatoes in the microwave all of the time and they come out great for a snack or dinner side! Put a little butter, sugar, and cinnamon and it’s soo good! I do like baking sweet potatoes as well but it takes much longer 😊 Let me know if you ever try it!

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