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Plant-Based Thanksgiving Menu (Affordable, Tasty & Good-for-You!)

Updated: May 30, 2022



If you've been keeping an eye on news reports this holiday season, or purchased food at your local grocery store, then you may have noticed the skyrocketing prices of food. Between packaging, distribution, supply chain shortages, labor shortages, severe weather, trade policies, and inflation, food prices are soaring.


New York Times recently published an article with the headline, "This Year's Thanksgiving Feast Will Wallop the Wallet" stating that "Thanksgiving 2021 could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday." The largest price increases have been for meat, including poultry, which has increased 10.5 percent compared to other foods, which have increased 4.5 percent according to the Consumer Price Index. The cost of making steel, which is used to make cans that store our beloved pumpkin purée and cranberry sauce, has risen 200 percent! Even the prices of cardboard packaging and containers used to ship food have increased. Drought in the midwest and west coast has caused a variety of food shortages including sugarcane, citrus, and coffee. We know, coffee lovers, this one really hit us to the core, too.


The stress of the food system is like a domino effect, creating stress for everyone from farmers to grocery stores to consumers.


What can you do to minimize the impact of increasing food costs while still providing nourishing, tasty, and festive food for your family this holiday season? We're glad you asked! Below are 5 ways to decrease foods costs this Thanksgiving. (Bonus that the tips also help to support local business, provide more nutrition, and create tastier food!)

  1. Ditch the turkey. Can we all agree that the sides are the true stars of the show for Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday? Hearty stuffing (without the bird), warm homemade biscuits, roasted veggies, and savory soups are enough to fill bellies, soothe souls and foster connections at the dinner table. Start a new tradition with a focus on all of the delicious sides. (Want to take it a step further? Donate the dinner turkey funds to Adopting a Turkey from the Farm Sanctuary this holiday season.)

  2. Shop local or regional. Exclude the cost of transportation by shopping local or regional whenever possible. Bonus that close-to-home produce often has lots more flavor and way more nutrition than produce purchased at the grocery store.

  3. Shop seasonal. If you don't have a local farmers market consider purchasing seasonal from your grocery store. Look for produce that's been grown in your region which will help to decrease shipping cost while also ensuring better flavor and more nutrition. Don't forget to bring your own produce bags which can further reduce costs while helping the planet.

  4. Purchase whole food, not packaged. Whether you've been motivated to cut down on packaged food to reduce waste or boost nutrition, now's a great time to start. For example, purchase whole sugar pumpkin instead of canned. Watch this short video on how to cut a sugar pumpkin. Personally, I would skip the peeling part and roast it first, making it super easy to peel after it has cooled. Roast sliced pumpkin on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until tender. Peel off the skin. Cut it into chunks and use in soups or purée it for homemade pumpkin pie.

  5. Grow your own garden. If you've ever wanted to grow your own food, now's a great time to start! You don't need a large space or a backyard. In fact, there are plenty of fruits, veggies, and herbs your can grow in small spaces and indoors. Grab some ideas from The Spruce. My husband, Ricky, used to say, "You were meant to eat plants, not grow them." I was the plant killer, even though I loved them dearly. However, we just scored some beautiful kale, broccoli, butter lettuce and Romaine from our local garden center, planted them last month, and they're (to my surprise) thriving beautifully! (I'm feeling your virtual hi-fives, thank you, friends. :D) Trust me, if I can grow plants, so can you.

We've put together a whole food plant-based menu for you that can be affordable, delicious, and healthy, yet still feel indulgent. The cost of animal-based foods are skyrocketing, more so than plants, therefore this Thanksgiving is the perfect time to make side dishes the star of the show! Select one or two items to try from the menu below or make the whole menu—and please share photos and your experience if you do!


Salads

You could call this simple-to-make, bursting with flavor dish the "Superfood Power Bowl" because it's packed with some true seasonal superfoods—kale, radish, and red onion. It's easy-to-make and will be a crowd-pleaser.

Cost to make this dish: $11.17

Cost per serving: $1.40


Silken tofu makes the perfect salad dressing base with its plant-based fat and protein content. Pour this slightly tangy and very creamy dressing over top of autumn produce —apples, carrots, and cabbage—to create a crunchy yet creamy delicious slaw.


Cost to make this dish: $6.84

Cost per serving: $1.71


Soups

If you’re looking for a satisfying, hearty, and healthy starter that the entire family will love, then this soup will do the trick! Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folate, fiber, and more, you're not only getting big bursts of flavor with every bite, but also plenty of nutrition.

Cost to make this dish: $14.11

Cost per serving: $3.52


Stay warm and cozy by making Energizing and Healing White Bean and Kale Soup. This super-healing soup is jam-packed with nutrient-dense ingredients such as garlic, kale, onion, celery, tomatoes, beans and veggie stock. Enjoy it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and rustic organic whole wheat or sourdough bread (dunking fun!).


Cost to make this dish: $13.30

Cost per serving: $1.66


Light Bites and Sides

These lentil quinoa meatballs won't last long once they're taken out of the oven. They're perfectly crispy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside. They make a great appetizer and pair so well with your favorite tomato sauce or basil pesto.

Cost to make this dish: $8.97

Cost per serving: $0.90


This dish is super creamy from the cashew cheese and crunchy from the tofu croutons. The tofu croutons bake at the same time as the Mac n Cheese — pretty convenient! If you want to use panko crumbs or whole-grain breadcrumbs in place of tofu, that's totally fine. Or, if you want to simplify it even more, skip the croutons altogether. The macaroni and cheese all by itself is still really yummy.

Cost to make this dish: $14.09

Cost per serving: $2.35


Cauliflower gets the gold for the most versatile cruciferous vegetable. It can be minced and used as a substitute for rice. It can add fiber and moisture to veggie burgers. And, it can make silky smooth mashed cauliflower “potatoes." Make it complete by drizzling mushroom gravy on top!

Cost to make this dish: $9.82

Cost per serving: $2.45


This is the type of gravy that you can pour over anything and feel pretty darn good about it. With a base of mushrooms and cauliflower it's packed with immune-supporting compounds, anti-cancer nutrients and the nutrition your body needs to stay happy and healthy. It's also bursting with flavor and simple to make.

Cost to make this dish: $6.25

Cost per serving: $1.56


These little bite-size drop biscuits are oh.em.gee delicious! They’re light, airy, slightly sweet and perfectly satisfying. Spread your favorite plant-based butter and enjoy them warm to get the full "get in my belly" effect! Also, they're super easy to make!

Cost to make this dish: $3.73

Cost per serving: $.62 (3 biscuits)


This stuffing couldn't be simpler OR more delicious! The mushrooms give a savory umami flavor and pair so nicely with the wild rice. Stuff a baked sweet potato or acorn squash or enjoy this stuffing solo.

Cost to make this dish: $13.97

Cost per serving: $2.32


Desserts

Are you looking for a delicious dessert to wow your family at Thanksgiving this year? This Festive Fig Pie Crumble might be just the dish you’re looking for. While not on every table at the holidays, figs are flavorful, packed with nutrients, and are sure to hit that sweet spot. While most often consumed as dried fruit, fresh or cooked figs are just as delicious. Cashews can be pricey. It's not a necessary addition, but, if you're able to include the Vanilla Cashew Cream, it's a nice addition.

Cost to make this dish: $28.38

Cost per serving: $3.55


Deep South Blueberry Cobbler (featured in Atlanta Journal Constitution!)

Don't tell your guests, but this delicious Deep South Blueberry Cobbler is good for their health! You'd never know it by eating it alone. It has the perfect blend of carbohydrate (blueberries and bananas), protein (hemp seeds and almond meal), fat (chia and hemp seeds), and fiber (oats, chia, blueberries and banana). But it also has all of the decadent flavors and textures of a warm and festive holiday cobbler!


Cost to make this dish: $18.16

Cost per serving: $3.02



Did you make any of these dishes for your holiday festivities? Please share about your experience below!





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