Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Frugal (Real Food) Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes and Costs

These frugal Thanksgiving dessert recipes have been broken down to compare costs for homemade versus store bought dishes.
This series of articles is designed to help families put a frugal Thanksgiving meal on the table.
Start at the beginning: Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal

Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times - Frugal (Real Food) Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes and Costs from The More With Less Mom

Frugal Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes and Costs

Take a look at the introduction for the dinner recipes to figure out what I’m doing here.

Egg Nog

I’m putting egg nog with the desserts. Because I can. I keep seeing recipes for leftover egg nog. Who has leftover egg nog? Most of the recipes called for heavy whipping cream, which is how you get that really thick texture, and why it is so bad for you. I chose this recipe because it uses milk, but you can substitute cream, half and half, or heavy cream, maybe even add dry/powdered milk and see what happens. In my house if we buy it we get the full fat version (of everything), put it in little tea cups, and pretend we’re fancy as we savor it. You don’t need a giant glass of nog. Yes you can give yourself food poisoning with raw egg. If you’re afraid gently heat it to 160 degrees, cool, and chill.

Holiday Eggnog from Passionate Homemaking

1 1/4 c whole milk, preferably raw (using heavy cream makes for a thicker and creamier version like you would find in the store) 10 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.20
2 egg yolks, raw $0.13/ct x 2 = $0.26
2 tsp vanilla 0.33 oz x $0.37 = $0.12
3 Tbl sweetener – honey or maple syrup/sugar 1.33 oz x $0.12/oz = $0.16
Homemade total $0.74

Purchased egg nog 32 oz $2.50

Pumpkin Pie

Whipped Cream Recipe

Ahh pumpkin pie. Consider putting a little cinnamon in your crust. Or if you are using graham crackers for something else you can make a graham crackers crust. You can start at cooking your cheapo pumpkin and proceed from scratch, or buy the parts, assemble, and bake. You also might want to try a pumpkin bread you can serve as an appetizer, or pumpkin pancakes for a special breakfast. Odds are very good this will be too expensive with heavy cream, but if you buy a large container of heavy cream you can use the leftover cream to make whipped cream to top it, and/or substitute some of the milk in your egg nog.
Pumpkin Pie Spice for One Pie Recipe

Make ahead: Cool completely (warm pie in the fridge makes for soggy crust), cover, refrigerate up to 3 days. Or cover/wrap, freeze, bake frozen adding 20 min to bake time.

World Premier Pumpkin Pie Recipe From “Beyond” Scratch at Mountaineers Books

1 pie pumpkin Pie/Sugar 2-3 lb $0.49/lb x 3= $1.47
1 Tbl vegetable or olive oil 0.5 x $0.02/oz = $0.01
1 1/4 c flour 5.51 oz x $0.02/oz =- $0.11
1 c cold butter (2 sticks) 8 oz x $0.14/oz = $1.12
1 c heavy cream 8 oz x $0.17/oz = $1.36
1/2 c sugar (brown or white) 3.5 oz x $0.12/oz = $0.42
2 eggs $0.13/ct x 2 = $0.26
Homemade total $4.75

Purchased rolled pie crust 15 oz $2.29
Purchased pumpkin pie filling 15 oz $2.19
Assembled parts total $4.48

Purchased pumpkin pie 8” 22 oz $4.99

Chocolate Pie

Hot Cocoa for One Recipe

If you buy cocoa to make pie you can also make hot cocoa for the kids (Hot Cocoa for One Recipe), or maybe you have the stuff for Chocolate Mug Cake
If you want to make this a little quicker and you have graham crackers you can make a crust.

Grandma’s Chocolate Pie from Homesick TexanChocolate Mug Cake Recipe

4 Tbl of cocoa or 1 1/2 squares of baking chocolate (use cocoa) 1.1 oz x $0.38/oz = $0.42
3/4 c of sugar 5.25 x $0.12/oz = $0.63
5 Tbl of flour 1.38 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.03
1 1/2 c of milk 12 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.24
1/2 tsp of vanilla 0.08 oz x $0.37/oz = $0.03
2 egg yolks $0.13/ct x 2 = $0.26
1 Tbl butter 0.5 oz x $0.14/oz= $0.07Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust Recipe
2 egg whites $0.13/ct x 2 = $0.26
4 Tbl of sugar 1.75 x $0.12/oz = $0.21
2 c of flour 8.82 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.18
1/2 c oil/vegetable oil 4 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.08
1/4 c milk 2 x $0.02/oz = $0.04
Homemade total $2.45

Purchased chocolate pie 8″ 32 oz $7.99

Apple Pie

This is a classic and always frugal. However if you have oats in the house you may be able to do an apple crisp for even cheaper, so if your menu is pie-heavy consider that. You can make the whole thing from scratch, or buy the parts and assemble and bake. I had to assume that if you did that it would make the same size pie as buying one from the bakery. Try adding cinnamon to your crust, it will be so good.

Make ahead: Cool completely (warm pie in the fridge makes for soggy crust), cover, refrigerate up to 3 days. Or prepare, freeze, bake frozen adding 20 min to bake time.

My Grandma’s Apple Pie Recipe from Phyll’s Frugal Finds

5 c all-purpose flour 22 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.44
3 Tbl brown sugar 1.5 oz x $0.05/oz = $0.08
1 tsp baking powder 0.17 oz x $0.20/oz = $0.03
1 lb lard/shortening/butter $2.29
1 egg $0.13
1 Tbl vinegar 0.5 oz x $0.04/oz = $0.02
3/4 c brown sugar 6 oz x $0.05/oz = $0.30
1/4 c all-purpose flour 1.1 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.02
1/4 c butter or margarine 2 oz x $0.14/oz = $0.28
6-7 apples/Granny Smith/Pink Lady/Northern spy/Honeycrisp/Mutsu 3 lb $0.99/lb =$2.97
Homemade total $6.56

Purchased rolled pie crust 15 oz $2.29
Purchased apple pie filling 21 oz $2.99
Assembled total $5.28

Purchased 9” Apple Pie 38 oz $8.99

Carrot Cake

Carrots are inexpensive. I included the cream cheese icing in my price breakdown, because I pretty much couldn’t find an alternative that sounded good. But man, that cream cheese is going to cost you, like 7% of your budget to frost one cake. I would add some spice cake-type spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves) to the cake batter, skip the frosting, and dust with powdered sugar. Keep in mind if you don’t frost it and make it ahead it will be more prone to drying out in the fridge, wrap that sucker well.

Make ahead: Cool completely, frost if desired, cover, refrigerate 2-3 days. Or cool completely, cover/wrap, freeze, thaw, frost.

Cici’s Carrot Cake and Homemade Cream Cheese Icing from Frugal Upstate

2 c flour 8.9 oz x $0.02/oz = $1.78
2 tsp baking soda 0.33 oz x $0.03/oz = $0.01
1 tsp baking powder 0.17 oz x $0.20/oz = $0.03
1 1/2 c brown sugar 10.58 oz x $0.05/oz = $0.53
1 c vegetable oil 8 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.16
3 eggs $0.13/ct x 3 = $0.39
1 tsp vanilla 0.17 oz x $0.37/oz = $0.06
2 c shredded carrot (approx 6 carrots) 1 lb = $1.98
8 oz crushed pineapple = $0.79
16 oz cream cheese 12 oz $2.49 x 1.33 = $3.31
1/2 c butter 4 oz x $0.14/oz = $0.56
4 c confectioner’s/powdered sugar 17.64 oz x $0.05/oz = $0.88
Homemade total $10.48

Purchased Single Layer Carrot Cake 14 oz $4.99

Cheesecake

Cheesecake is expensive, it’s pretty much a ball of cream cheese, at $6 just for that one ingredient. If you only have 50 bucks that’s 12% of your budget. This recipe uses a graham cracker crust, which is super easy, and if you’re buying or have graham crackers you can use that crust for pumpkin pie as well. You can get three graham crackers crusts from two boxes of crackers.

Cheesecake from The Frugal Girl

1 3/4 c finely crushed graham crackers (10-12 crackers) $0.17 x 12 = $2.04
1/2 c butter 4 oz x $0.14/oz = $0.56
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese 12 oz $2.49 x 2 = $4.98
1 c sugar 7 oz x $0.12/oz = $0.84
2 Tbl all-purpose flour 0.55 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.01
1 tsp vanilla 0.17 oz x $0.37/oz = $0.06
2 eggs $0.13/ct x 2 = $0.26
1 egg yolk $0.13
1/4 c milk 2 oz x $0.02/oz = $0.04
Homemade total $8.92

Purchased cheesecake 7″ 28 oz $9.99 $0.36/oz

Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times Series:
Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal
From Scratch Thanksgiving Menu
From Scratch $50 Shopping Cart
Store Bought $50 Shopping Cart
Thanksgiving Blessing Bags
Quickie Thanksgiving Recipes
Frugal Dinner Recipes and Costs
Frugal Dessert Recipes and Costs
Next: Price List
Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline
Thanksgiving Links
Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Links
Thrifty Thanksgiving Pinterest Boards

* Also see our Care Package for the Hard Times Kitchen series

We hope you enjoyed our Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Frugal Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes and Costs post

Vintage postcard image from Graphics Fairy

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