Emma Stephenson gives her top tips for the perfect turkey on a student budget
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and is being celebrated in the UK more and more every year. Whether you are an international student feeling a little homesick, or just a British student looking to get involved in the festivities, here is how to create your own Thanksgiving dinner from the comfort of your student kitchen. Admittedly you will not find all your usual ingredients in British supermarkets, but this guide will provide some advice on how to source and cook a Thanksgiving dinner on a student budget.
The Main Event
The most iconic and commonly circulated images of a true Thanksgiving dinner feature a perfectly golden turkey. A whole turkey will usually be more on the expensive side, and may be hard to find at this time of year as supermarkets and butchers only usually order them in for Christmas. Never fear, you have plenty of other options! For one, you could roast a chicken instead – a whole chicken averages at around £10 in a supermarket such as Morrisons. Choosing chicken would be both more time effective (having a shorter roasting time) and cost effective. While a supermarket is convenient, a local butchers or market will be much cheaper and much better quality. The Birmingham Open Market on Edgbaston Street in between the Chinese Quarter and New Street is the best place to go for market goods. If you do choose to get your chicken through this route, here is a top tip: go between 3:00pm and closing time (varying day to day) for the best deals. This is when the vendors will be trying to sell off their produce at reduced prices.
On the Side
Birmingham Open Market is not only a great place to acquire your bird, but will also be the best place for high quality vegetables for your Thanksgiving feast. Ranging in price, the penny-pinching student can acquire a bowl of vegetables for as little as 50p. However, vegetables are also cheap in most supermarkets, especially Aldi. Thanksgiving can include any sides you want, but traditionally the table features green beans, mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese and yams. All of this is easily sourced in the UK, except for yams; but most comparisons equate yams to sweet potatoes which again, are easy and cheap to buy.
The Best Bits
This may not be quite the same as Mum’s homemade stuffing, but using the packets of just-add-water stuffing could save you a lot of time, trouble and probably disappointment. Aldi’s own sage and onion stuffing is a mere 34p. Or, if you are feeling luxurious, you could punt for Paxo, a very reputable brand that has served families across the UK for over a century who offer a basic sage and onion packet for just 68p in Morrisons. Likewise, cheat gravy simplifies the effort put into the meal, as you simply have to add hot water. Depending on your budget, most supermarkets will have their own brand for a reasonable price, or you can buy granules from Bisto or Schwarz.
Cranberry Sauce is a Thanksgiving staple, and while simply buying a jar would suffice, you can easily make your own if you wish to do so. A basic cranberry sauce is made up of just cranberries, sugar, water and optional lemon juice. You will probably have the most success by buying frozen cranberries and cooking with these as cranberries don’t commonly grow in the UK, but as we approach Christmas these will be relatively easy to find in supermarkets.
Obviously, this Thanksgiving won’t be the traditional affair many international students may be used to. However, hosting a dinner with your flat or house is totally feasible in a small student kitchen, and is a great way to get everyone involved. You will be surprised by how enthusiastic your friends will be about helping you celebrate. At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is a holiday, so there is no reason not to have a go at celebrating it as a student. At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is a holiday, so there is no reason not to have a go at celebrating it as a student. Gather your friends together, crack open a bottle of wine, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!