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A collection of favorites that help celebrate the Christmas season without breaking the bank. Thrifty recipes that can be prepared at home will save money and still create a special meal.

apple salad

Waldorf Salad

Extra apples from the market? Try this Waldorf Salad with walnuts and crunchy fall apples.

Makes 6 servings.


  • 1/4 cup walnuts (chopped)
  • 2 apples (cored and diced)
  • 1 cup celery (diced)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt, non-fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Place chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally until they are evenly toasted.
  4. Combine apples, celery, nuts, and raisins.
  5. Stir together yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice. Pour over apple mixture and toss lightly.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

For nutrition information, please visit Waldorf Salad at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

cranberry ham slice

Cranberry Ham Slice

Cranberry juice, raisins, allspice, and brown sugar give this dish a sweet and tangy sauce. Pour over ham slices and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve with your favorite veggies.

Makes 6 servings.


  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins, seedless
  • 2 ham slices, 1-inch thick


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Set dial of temperature controlled burner at 225°F. Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, and allspice in a saucepan.
  3. Gradually add the next three ingredients and stir. Cook until sauce thickens and boils.
  4. Place one slice of ham in greased baking dish. Pour one half of the sauce over the ham slice. Top with second slice. Add remaining sauce.
  5. Bake, covered in 350°F oven for 45 minutes.

For nutrition information, please visit Cranberry Ham Slice at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

brown rice pilaf with dried fruit

Brown Rice Pilaf with Sage, Walnuts and Dried Fruit

Dried fruit and sage combine to give this whole grain dish a delicious flavor that you can enjoy it any time of the year!

Makes 8 servings.


  • canola cooking spray (as needed)
  • 1 onion (medium, chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (small, ends trimmed and chopped)
  • 2 cups rice (brown, uncooked)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (fat-free, reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (dark)
  • 1/4 cup apricots (dried, chopped)
  • walnuts (1/4 cup, chopped, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sage (dried)
  • 2 teaspoons sage (fresh, chopped)
  • salt (to taste, optional)
  • pepper (to taste, optional)


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Spray the large skillet with canola cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat.
  3. Sauté onion and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Add brown rice and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add water, broth, raisins, and apricots; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 50 minutes.
  5. Stir in walnuts if desired, sage, salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer to serving dish. Garnish with fresh sage and serve immediately.

For nutrition information, please visit Brown Rice Pilaf with Sage, Walnuts and Dried Fruit at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

green beans with purple onion on top

Dutch Green Beans

Using canned green beans and other pantry items, this side dish is great when you don't have much time. Adding the onion at the end kicks up the flavor a bit.

Makes 4 servings.


  • 1 can green beans (15 ounces)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 onion (small, sliced)


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Drain the beans, and save the liquid from the can in small bowl.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup bean liquid into the saucepan.
  4. Add the cornstarch in the bean liquid. Stir well.
  5. Add the vinegar and brown sugar.
  6. Put on medium heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn the heat to low.
  8. Add the green beans and onions. Heat and serve.

For nutrition information, please visit Dutch Green Beans at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

mashed sweet potatoes with lemon zest on top

Maple Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, maple syrup, orange juice, and yogurt are a winning combination in this easy dish that can be made in the microwave.

Makes 2 servings.


  • 2 sweet potatoes (large)
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt, non-fat
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Prick potato skins with a fork. Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minute until soft and easily pierced with a knife.
  3. Scoop out the pulp into a medium bowl. Mash the pulp and stir in the yogurt, maple syrup, and orange juice. Transfer to a microwave safe serving bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through

For nutrition information, please visit Maple Sweet Potatoes at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

corn bread on a cooling rack

Soul-Healthy Cornbread

Serve this sweet cornbread with your favorite savory entrée.

Makes 12 servings.


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour (all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 4 egg whites (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray and 8 inch square pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in an medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the sprayed pan and shake to make it level.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool, then cut into 12 squares.

For nutrition information, please visit Soul-Healthy Cornbread at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

pie with cranberries on top

Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie

Cranberries and apples are the perfect combination for this delicious homemade dessert.

Makes 10 servings.


  • 4 apples (large, peeled, cored, and sliced)
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour (all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 pie crust (prepared)


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Stir all ingredients (except for the pie crust) together in a medium sized mixing bowl and place in a 10-inch deep dish pie pan.
  3. Place one pie crust on top of the fruits. Cut 3 or 4 slits to allow the steam to escape.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.

For nutrition information, please visit Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.