Not everyone is lucky enough to go home for Thanksgiving. You may be an out-of-state or international student, or maybe it’s just not feasible to spend so much money for such a short break. Whatever it is, you’re probably stuck in your dorm, broken up about missing one of the only holidays that encourages you to pig out. 

Even though you won’t be home to eat your dad’s pumpkin pie or your little sister’s oddly delicious combination of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, you can still make a mouthwatering meal in your dorm room reminiscent of a shoebox.

All you’ll need is $25, a microwave, and a trip to your local grocery store (I was able to find everything I needed at Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, and Whole Foods).

Side Dishes and Appetizers

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy (or Vegan Gravy)

cheese, poutine
Gayathri Sridhar

Mashed potatoes were always my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s sells ready-to-eat mashed potatoes (for only $1.99) that are easily the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten. 10/10, would definitely recommend to fellow potato lovers.

Top your potatoes with Trader Joe’s turkey gravy ($1.49) and you’ll be good to go. Whole Foods also offers a vegan alternative to gravy for only $1.19—saving money and saving a turkey.

Total Cost: $3.48 ($3.18 if you buy the vegan gravy)

Corn on the cob (without the cob)

corn, vegetable, sweet, cereal
Gayathri Sridhar

Grab a can of corn from any grocery store of your choice (my corn was 4 for $5/$1.25 each). Strain out the water from the can and heat the corn in a microwave bowl for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

Transfer your heated corn onto a paper towel to drain excess water and add any spices you would like. I usually like to melt cheese on my corn and add paprika or chili powder.

Total Cost: $1.25


bread, wheat
Gayathri Sridhar

This cornbread is sold at Ralph’s for only $3.99 which is quite the steal considering that it will probably last you until finals (unless you’re like me, and you binge eat while watching every Thanksgiving episode of every TV show ever made).

Not to be corny, but get bready to be thankful for this amazing cornbread this year.

Total Cost: $3.99

Main Course

Vegan Turkey

dairy product, sweet, oatmeal cereal
Gayathri Sridhar

Save a turkey this year by purchasing Tofurky (with stuffing) from Whole Foods for only $10.99. Customer reviews show that most people couldn’t even believe they weren’t eating real turkey.

Personally, I couldn’t tell the difference myself; this is a healthy alternative that’ll also save you some time and some money.

Total Cost: $10.99


Pie-flavored Ice Cream

beer, chocolate
Gayathri Sridhar

My all-time favorite dessert combination is pie and ice cream, specifically warm apple pie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Unfortunately, my dorm fridge is too small to fit an entire pie in it, so for dessert, I just decided to purchase pie-flavored ice cream.

There are many great options for this mash up — Dreyer’s alone offers a bunch of pie-flavored ice cream flavors. I went with the Washington Apple Pie flavor but other offerings include a Mississippi Mud Pie and a Texas Pecan Pie. 

Total Cost: $2.77 at Ralph's

Total Meal Cost: $22.48 ($22.18 with the Vegan Gravy)

In total, I spent less than $25 on this entire meal; it seems a bit pricey, but I have leftovers to shame-eat at ungodly hours until Christmas. If you’re trying to save money or you just don’t like to eat leftovers, you can even make it a Friendsgiving.

Gather 5-6 friends who are also dormin’ it up during Thanksgiving, and have each person bring an item, potluck-style. You’ll all save some money on UberEATS and you’ll have some great memories that’ll make your small college dorm room feel like home.