Your guide to a budget-friendly Friendsgiving

As families gather ‘round their tables with hungry eyes and even hungrier dogs begging for scraps, college students around the country are left on campus with little time to even consider making a trip home for Thanksgiving. That’s why Friendsgiving is the key to making the dorms feel like home this Thursday.

Luckily, Friendsgiving isn’t quite as intense as your mom’s traditional meal. There’s no need to get up with the sun to make sure the turkey will be done on time (then hoping you didn’t put it in upside down)! And there’s no need to get all dressed up just to stuff your face then wish you had worn something with an elastic waist.

Here is our easy and affordable meal guide to Friendsgiving that is sure to please the masses and your wallet:

You do not have to buy a turkey

A rotisserie chicken will do the trick and is easily as delicious as turkey. And you can easily buy one table ready at any local grocery store.

Not chicken people? Salmon should do the trick. Not meat eaters? Whip up a hearty quinoa salad.

Not everything needs to be made from scratch

Save yourself time and energy by buying pre-made items or boxed goods with short ingredient lists. We decided to skimp a little by purchasing easy-to-make corn muffins, stuffing and gravy.

Think of what you already have

You don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount at the grocery store, so talk to your friends to see what ingredients you already have. Also, if everyone is pitching in, be sure to establish a budget.

Mom doesn’t have to approve of your veggies

A sweet potato casserole is by far the best kind of veggie out there. Try our recipe for this not-so-guilt-free side dish:

  • 1 medium-large can sweet potatoes
  • ¼ C brown sugar
  • 1/3 small can crushed pineapple
  • 1 stick butter
  • Mini marshmallows, for topping
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mash up your sweet potatoes. Stir in brown sugar and pineapples. You can eyeball your measurements.
  2. Put your concoction in an 8-inch, round glass dish (or whatever you have handy) and top with pats of butter. Layer on mini marshmallows. (We tried using marshmallow fluff to accommodate friends who can’t eat gelatin. It turned out okay, but consider making two separate dishes or getting Halal marshmallows.)
  3. Bake until the marshmallows are toasted and a light, crispy brown. This should take around 30 minutes.

Make something that can easily be frozen

We all know Thanksgiving leftovers are the best. But be considerate of that college food struggle and make a mac & cheese that can be sealed up and frozen for a later date:

  • 1 box mac & cheese
  • 1 stick Butter + 2 tablespoon for greasing
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, salted
  • 2 blocks cheddar cheese
  1. Heat your oven to around 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a glass bowl or pan – whatever is around – with butter.
  2. Boil water and toss in your noodles with some salt and olive oil. You’ll have to estimate how much pasta you’ll need based on your container. While this cooks, start cutting up your butter and cheese.
  3. Once your pasta is ready and drained, start layering. Go pasta, salt, pepper, tomato chunks, cheese and butter.
  4. Continue to do this until your container is filled. On your last layer, when you place your tomatoes, drizzle a little bit of juice in there to keep it moist. Then continue to top with pats of cheese and butter.
  5. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes. Length will depend on your container, but you’ll want to see brown, crispy edges.

Add a little touch of personality

You want to keep things simple, but you also want to make the dinner special. Pick an easy way to spice up a dish. We chose dessert because pie is simple and it’s super cute when they’re little. We made apple pie, but feel free to do your group’s favorite:

  • 1 pie crust, softened
  • Bag of apples, cored, finely chopped (about 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon All-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Just follow the Pillsbury recipe, like we did. Only thing is that it took more like 5 apples instead of 2. Also, we improvised with some cinnamon filling that we already had on hand to make life easier.

Have a backup plan

Look, we’re not all kitchen whizzes. If your Friendsgiving meal deserves to go down the drain, have a backup restaurant where you can go to chow down instead. Applebees, Bob Evans, Denny’s, Golden Corral, IHOP, Maggiano’s and more will have a seat for you.