Thanksgiving on a College Budget

May 22nd, 2022
Thanksgiving on a College Budget

If you grew up on the east coast of Canada, you’re probably no stranger to the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with an over-the-top turkey dinner and all the “fixins” – we’re talkin’ stuffing, we’re talkin’ cranberries, we’re talkin’ heaps and heaps of mashed potatoes. Usually, your biggest worry is remembering your stretchy pants or choosing which movie you will fall asleep to when you will take your after-turkey nap.

But this year, if you live in New Brunswick, you have probably just scrapped your Thanksgiving weekend plans to stay home. With the recent “circuit breaker” announcement most people will be staying put with a homesick shaped void that only a Thanksgiving dinner can fill.  

Many students will consider cooking their own Thanksgiving meal for the first time. This can be an ambitious venture that requires a significant amount of time and money. If you are a college student, you are probably lacking in both those areas, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out!

We have uncovered 3 easy alternative Thanksgiving meal recipes that can be made on a student budget. Make a dinner for one, or propose a family meal with your roommate. These super easy alternative recipes can help to fill that turkey shaped hole in your heart.


This is a take on the classic French Canadian poutine but with the addition of turkey, stuffing and cranberry to resemble that highly anticipated Thanksgiving dinner. Though there are many delicious recipes for Turkey Poutine online, this one has been altered and simplified to reflect a college budget.


  • Bag of frozen fries (regular or sweet potato)
  • Oven roasted shredded Turkey (store bought or leftovers)
  • Stuffing (store bought or homemade – be sure to have any additional ingredients required for preparation)
  • Gravy (store bought or homemade – be sure to have any additional ingredients required for preparation)
  • Cheese Curds or Mozzarella Cheese shredded
    Optional: can of cranberries, chives


    Prepare sweet potato fries according to the instructions on the package.
    If you have elected to purchase pre-cooked pre-shredded turkey, simply add the desired amount of turkey to the fries. If you have access to cooked turkey, you can shred it by pulling it apart with a fork.
    Prepare stuffing. This can be store-bought stuffing or homemade stuffing from another recipe. For store-bought, prepare the stuffing according to the instructions on the package.
    Prepare gravy and make sure it stays hot. This can be store-bought gravy or homemade gravy from another recipe. For store-bought, prepare the gravy according to the instructions on the package.
  5. LAYER
    Layer the ingredients on top of the fries: turkey, stuffing, and cheese curds. • Pour over hot turkey gravy on top of the fries and the other ingredients.
  6. ADD
    If you love cranberries with your turkey dinner as much as we do, be sure to add this to your turkey-tine. You can find a simple recipe online that can show you how to cook cranberries from scratch or simply purchase a can of cranberries at your local supermarket.
    Garnish with chopped chives.



These amazing open face hot turkey sandwiches are real comfort food.


  • Shredded Turkey (store bought or from leftovers)
  • Sliced bread (any type, from white bread to sourdough)
  • Turkey gravy (store bought or homemade – be sure to have any additional ingredients required for preparation)
  • Stuffing (store bought or homemade – be sure to have any additional ingredients required for preparation)
    Optional: can of cranberries.
    Consider adding sides: mashed potatoes and/or peas


  1. PREPARE THE STUFFINGFollow the instructions on the package.
  2. PREPARE TURKEYHeat the turkey in the microwave and shred into pieces.
  3. PREPARE BREADDepending on which type of bread you have chosen to use for your hot turkey sandwich, you may need to slide your bread. Be sure to use a sharpened serrated knife for the job. Place a slice of bread on a plate, and add studding and turkey on each slice of bread.
  4. PREPARE GRAVYPour the gravy over the turkey. Make sure it’s hot!
  5. ADD THE FIXIN’SPunch this recipe up with the addition of cranberry, or sides of mashed potatoes and peas.




Apple crisp is a staple at any festive family meal, likely because it is relatively easy to make with few ingredients. 

There are lots of great recipes out there, but we have included a link to our absolute favourite:

Betty Crockers Apple Crisp with Oats



Alternatively, many local Moncton restaurants are offering take-out options for turkey dinners and hot turkey sandwiches. These diner style restaurants offer that “home cooked meal” feel, provide in-house dining, take-out and some home delivery.

Hynes Restaurant

 Jeans Restaurant

Steve’s Diner

Regardless of how you decide to spend your Thanksgiving long weekend, be sure to connect with friends and family, and carve out some time familiarize yourself with the significance of the holiday. It is true that the modern perception of Thanksgiving is that it is an excuse to over indulge and spend time with family. However, coming off the tails of the first Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, it would be irresponsible not to observe the origin of this holiday and the tension it has created.

Please take a moment to read these two informative articles as they describe the origin of the holiday as observed by settlers and the indigenous.