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College kitchen: Thanksgiving on a student budget

Mashed potatoes, turkey and cornbread are among the easiest dishes to make if you’re sticking around campus.
Cornbread, turkey and mashed potatoes.
Image by Nur B. Adam
Cornbread, turkey and mashed potatoes.

Many college students might think a Thanksgiving spread is out of their reach. But, a Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to take all day to prepare, and it also doesn’t have to break the bank. 

Try out these recipes for a quick and easy taste of the classics from your own college kitchen.


Cornbread is a Thanksgiving staple and among the most affordable and least time-consuming tastes of the holiday. 


  • One box of corn muffin mix
  • One egg
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of honey


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix together all ingredients.
  • Pour into a small bread pan or muffin tin. 
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 


Turkey is the centerpiece of the classic Thanksgiving dinner and often the most time-consuming and expensive part of the meal. This dish can be easily made by purchasing a cook-in-bag option, available at Target and other grocery stores. With this option, you won’t need to worry about thawing the meat, but make sure you still start early, as the turkey takes an estimated three hours to cook in the oven. 


  • Cook-in-bag turkey


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Remove turkey from plastic wrapping and place on a roasting pan. Sprinkle the turkey with salt, pepper, and other desired spices.
  • Bake the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Generally directions say to expect the turkey to take three hours to cook, but I found it was ready in less.) Make sure to check the temperature often in the final hour so as to not overcook the bird. 
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. 
  • Prepare packaged gravy.

Mashed potatoes

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without mashed potatoes. Potatoes are easy to cook, filling and affordable. And the pre-seasoned, cook-in-bag turkey comes with gravy included, so it wouldn’t make sense not to have mashed potatoes. 


  • A bag of potatoes (of your preferred variety) 
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chives, chopped


  • Boil potatoes until tender. 
  • Drain the potatoes. 
  • Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and cook until the butter melts and the combination is mixed. Remove from heat. 
  • In a large bowl or pan, mash potatoes together with the butter-milk combination. 
  • Add salt, pepper and chives after the potatoes are thoroughly mashed.
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