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These Thanksgiving food swaps could be healthier, cheaper

Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center shows easy swaps to Thanksgiving meal side dishes that might make you feel better about overindulging.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Prices for Thanksgiving meals increased this year due to inflation, supply chain disruptions and the war on Ukraine, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

The survey says a 16-pound turkey costs $28.96,  a price that's up 21% compared to last year. Pumpkin mix in a 30-ounce can is up 18%, pie crusts are up 26% and even three pounds of sweet potatoes are going to cost 11% more.

RELATED: Turkey prices were up 17% in October, but Thanksgiving shoppers will likely see discounts

If you are looking to save costs and cut calories, Aimee Shea, a registered dietician from Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center, says your best option is to cook from scratch.

“The best thing to do is certainly to look for sale items, and whenever there is a sale, try to stock up on some of those shelf-stable items," said Shea. “Keep in mind, though, that processed foods, convenient foods, that are more prepared are those processed foods, and that convenience does add a price as well. So you know, if you're buying something that's already ready to go, you're probably going to be paying a little bit more because of that convenience factor.”

The price may add up, and so will sodium and sugar in prepackaged items.

RELATED: Digital deals and coupons: Get Thanksgiving family meal for less than $50

“Certainly as you're using more processed ingredients, the salt goes up, and it's easy to get a lot of salt in your foods,” said Shea. “There's some easy swaps that you can make, again, anything kind of made from scratch, instead of using a box mix, it's going to help cut back on that sodium. You know, with a lot of recipes at Thanksgiving time, we might be using broth. And if you're choosing a low sodium broth, that's going to really help cut back on the salt versus using that regular broth, that's going to be pretty high in salt.”

The Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center offers free classes and programs to help individuals with cooking and nutrition.

Recipes from Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center for Thanksgiving

Sweet Potato Mash


  • 1 1/4 pounds (about 4) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh or dried thyme or sage, optional


  • Combine the potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; add enough cold water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Mash the potatoes and garlic in the saucepan.
  • Stir in the sour cream, oil, salt and pepper.
  • Gradually stir in some of the cooking liquid, 2 or 3 tablespoons at a time, until the potatoes become creamy. (A hand mixer works well if you have one.)
  • Sprinkle with thyme or sage, if desired.

Variations: Use red-skinned potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes (you can even leave the skin on!). Instead of the sour cream, use reduced-fat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt.

Chef's Notes:
Yield: 4 servings (about 3/4 cup per serving)
Total cost: $1.74
Cost per serving: $0.44
Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 158 calories; 4g total fat (0g saturated fat); 29g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 83mg sodium; 3g protein

Cranberry Chutney

  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • White wash to thicken
  • Salt and pepper


  • Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Thicken with white wash.

Pumpkin Parfaits


  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Low-fat granola, toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds (optional)


  • Combine yogurt, pumpkin purée and spice in small bowl.
  • Divide half the yogurt mixture between two parfait/juice glasses or bowls.
  • Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of your favorite topping on the yogurt mixture.
  • Add remaining yogurt mixture and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of topping.

Variations: Buy plain yogurt and add vanilla extract to taste. Easily doubles or triples.

Chef's Notes:
Yield: 4 servings (approximately 2/3 cup per serving)
Total cost: $2.47
Cost per serving: $0.62 (does not include toppings)
Source: Adapted from Nestlé

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