Top 10 Thanksgiving pantry staples under $10

Whipping up a feast for the family? You don’t have to break the bank to do Thanksgiving right

Whether you’re planning to impress the family with an elaborate turkey roast or you’re simply whipping up some cranberry muffins for the office, Thanksgiving can be a great time to show off your cooking prowess. Unfortunately, gourmet food doesn’t come cheap, and cooking for large groups can really be a budget breaker. Thankfully, a few autumnal staples can be gathered at your local market for less than $10 each. We checked in with a few expert chefs to find the top 10 items under $10 that your Thanksgiving pantry can’t do without.

1. Mirepoix

“It's the basis for everything this time of year, especially Thanksgiving stuffing. I like to cut up a big batch for multiple uses, because it saves a lot of prep time,” says Eric Isaac, founder of Snapfood recipe and dining blog.

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Just what is mirepoix? It’s simply chopped onions, celery and carrots in equal parts.

“All that fancy stuffing stuff you buy at the supermarket is basically these three vegetables and some bread. So get out a knife and start chopping. You'll save some bucks,” says Morgan Murphy, food critic and author of "Off the Eaten Path."

Cost: $2 each for bundles of celery and carrots; $0.50 per onion

2. Rosemary

“This is the only time of year that a bunch of rosemary won't go bad before I use it. Throw it in gravy while cooking, put some in the turkey while it’s cooking, or even chop it and throw it into the mashed potatoes,” says Isaac. “If you do have leftovers, roast it in the oven and save it as a dry spice — it will make the house smell amazing while it’s cooking!”

Rosemary can be found at any supermarket, and for those of you with a green thumb, it’s also really easy to grow if you've got a sunny window.

Cost: About $3 per bundle, $5-$10 for a live plant

3. Butter

“Butter was probably the single most used ingredient of mine last year,” says Isaac, adding that he used 3 lbs. of it in a meal for eight people last Thanksgiving.

“Great butter, which cost less than beans, is essential at the holidays,” says Murphy. “You'll cover your turkey with it, make your pies with it, create soft rolls with it, give pastries a crispy flake and finish with it, brown your vegetables with it, and drizzle it on just about everything else.”

Cost: $2 per pound

4. Brining bags and brine

“Most people don't brine the turkey before they roast it, because they are usually just thawing a frozen un-brined turkey,” says Isaac. “I can tell you that this is a huge mistake and a disservice to the art of cooking a turkey.”

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Isaac says that brine is the key to a moist, delicious turkey, and can be made with most any liquid from apple juice to beer. Chicken stock and vegetable stock are also tasty and cheap choices. Don’t forget to throw some herbs into the mix, and you’re all set. As for how to brine, Isaac says that a large Ziplock bag is a great choice, as is a large pot.

Cost: $4 for large Ziplock bags, $2 for chicken stock or apple juice, $3 for herbs and spices

5. Cranberries

"My favorite use for fresh cranberries is in roasted brussel sprouts," says Kate Taylor, founder of cooking and recipe blog "Cookie and Kate." "Roasting the cranberries briefly brings out their inherent sweetness."

Taylor says she also uses fresh cranberries to make a quick stove-top cranberry sauce, which takes less than 10 minutes.

“I don't know how canned cranberry sauce stays on the market!” she says.

If you're looking to feed the masses before the festivities begin,  Cara Eisenpress, co-founder of cooking blog "Big Girls, Small Kitchen" and "Small Kitchen College," recommends setting dried cranberries out in little bowls with the appetizers.

Dried cranberries are also a welcome addition to baked scones, muffins, and cakes — “Anywhere you would use raisins,” Eisenpress says.

Cost: $5 a bag dried, $5 per pound fresh

6. Pecans

“Freshly toasted, quality pecans add terrific texture and sweet, nutty flavor to leafy salads,” says Taylor, adding that they really lend a “welcome crunch” to most any holiday dish.

If you’re pecan shopping, try to go as local as possible, she recommends.

“Look to buy from a local farmer or from a bulk bin with high turnover — rancid nuts are a disappointment!”

Cost:  Around $10 per pound

7. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of my very favorite spices, since it adds warmth and flavor to both sweet and savory dishes,” says Taylor.

Items that call for cinnamon include everything from hot chocolate and lattes to pear crisps, homemade applesauce, chili, and even cocktails, she says.

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To spice up any drink or dish, try cinnamon sticks. They’re great for visual impact, and they can also be grated with a cheese grater to add a cinnamon sprinkle.

Cost: $5 per box (around $1 per cinnamon stick)

8. Pumpkin Puree

“I would use pumpkin purée to make a classic pumpkin pie,” says Taylor. “ Whole wheat pumpkin bread or pumpkin pancakes would also be great for Thanksgiving breakfast.”

Pumpkin flavor is already very popular in coffees, and Taylor recommends using it in adult beverages, too.

“I love having a sweet pumpkin cocktail later in the day,” she says.

Cost: 12 oz can, $4

9.  Maple syrup

“I like to use maple syrup instead of sugar in recipes in recipes that call for a touch of sweetness,” says Taylor. “It's a healthier alternative to refined sugar and offers more complex flavor as well.”

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Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes, Taylor says. Adding a touch of maple flavor to muffins, cookies, or even to a glaze for chicken or ham can make for a hearty autumnal treat.

If you live in the Northeast or in Canada, check to see if you can support your local maple syrup supplier.

Cost: $10 for 8 oz

10. Crystallized ginger

You may have never seen it raw, but you’ve certainly eaten it before in all manner of baked goods.

“Crystallized ginger can spice up cookies, cakes, pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes,” Eisenpress says.

If you’ve got extra, throw some in the oven or into a heated potpourri dish to scent your kitchen. The powerful ginger smell will get you into the holiday spirit every time.

Cost: $10 for an 8 oz bag

Kathryn Elizabeth Tuggle is a seasoned New York-based personal finance editor and writer who adores saving, investing and thrift store shopping. After getting her start writing about small businesses for the Inc. 500 at Inc. Magazine, Kathryn learned her way around the NYSE and NASDAQ while working at the The Financial Times. In 2007, Kathryn joined the Fox Business Network before its inception and was instrumental in launching the company's small business and personal finance sites. Obsessed with all things spending, saving and social media, you can find Kathryn tweeting her latest adventures with Dimespring at @KathrynLizbeth.


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