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Cheap and Healthy Fall Desserts

From sweet donuts to pumpkin pie, some fall desserts leave us with a sugar hangover. These treats are incredibly tasty, but they’re often expensive or a bit too indulgent. Fortunately, these quick, easy and (most importantly) affordable fall desserts make it easy to tame your sweet tooth without overdosing on sugar. Use these recipes to enjoy delicious fall meals without overspending on expensive ingredients.

Sweet Potato Pie

Why this pie? Sweet potatoes make for an inexpensive yet tasty filling. As an added bonus, you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing there’s plenty of healthy sweet potato mixed in with some of the more decadent ingredients.


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 frozen pie crust, 9 inches (or make your own to save a little extra money on this recipe)


  1. Allow time for frozen pie crust to thaw completely before starting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together. Then, add the eggs and mix well.
  4. Add the milk, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Pour into pie crust, shifting as needed to create a flat surface on top.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an addition 35-40 minutes. When a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, the pie is done.
  8. Allow to cool before serving.
  9. Store in refrigerator.

Budget-friendly hack: Instead of covering your pie with the traditional pecan topping, go with a healthy dollop of whipped cream instead. If you still want that nut crunch, chop up some pecans for a light sprinkle on top rather than covering the entire surface with whole pecans.

Maple Baked Apples

Like the sweet potato pie, you’ll appreciate that the basis of this dish (apples) is both healthy and affordable. These treats are also perfect for devouring in front of a cozy fire on a cold winter evening. As an added bonus, there are multiple ways to customize the dish to both your tastes and your budget.


  • 5-6 medium pie apples (good varieties for baking include Braeburn, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smith, Jonathon and Golden Russet)
  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix granola, dried fruit and nuts together.
  3. In a separate, small bowl, mix the melted butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Pour this liquid mixture over the granola mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Wash and core the apples, but don’t go all the way through; the bottoms of the apples should be intact. Use a paring knife to create a wide opening on the top to hold more filling.
  5. Place the apples in a shallow baking dish and fill with the mixture.
  6. Put the dish in the oven on the lowest shelf. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until apples are quite soft.
  7. Serve warm. Add whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Budget-friendly hack: Make your own granola instead of using a store-bought variety. You can even use rolled oats that have been lightly toasted in the oven beforehand.

Caramelized Pears

Pears are one of those delicious fruits that, for some reason, is often overlooked for its flashier counterparts. But in this delicious fall dish, they take center stage with a sweet addition. Still, the main attraction here is the fruit itself, which adds a healthy bent to this dessert. And with only three essential ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to make.


  • 4 firm but riped pears
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • Gingersnap cookies and whipped cream (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Halve and core each pear.
  3. Melt the butter in a 9” x 13” baking dish in the oven. Remove the dish when the butter is slightly browned.
  4. Spread a layer of brown sugar over the butter. Next, lay the pears cut side down on top of the sugar.
  5. Place the baking dish back in the oven for another 30-40 minutes. The dish is done when pears are soft and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Serve, adding whipped cream and/or crushed gingersnap cookies if desired.

With these recipes at the ready, you can enjoy bounty of a fall harvest without overindulging on the sweets. These dishes also make excellent additions to a Thanksgiving meal, so whether you’re hosting or attending a feast, you can bring along one of these affordable and healthy dishes for a refreshing treat.

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