Assorted boxes of stuffing for Thanksgiving turkeysThanksgiving is -- egad -- a little more than two weeks away. We couldn't be more thrilled -- it is the greatest food day of the year -- but our belly's already aching over the inevitable overeating and, even more distressing, how much money we'll have to fork over for this feast.

Hopefully you, the budget-constrained college kid, won't have to pay for the bird and all the fixins' this year, but you can still do your part and contribute some sides that satisfy your family or friends' taste buds and your budget.

Store Brand Scorecard is reviewing Thanksgiving staples to help you find the best tasting brand for your wallet. This week, we got stuffed on one of our favorite sides, cornbread stuffing. A little disclaimer: we listed the nutritional facts for the dry stuffing mixes below for consistency. Naturally the amount of calories, fat and sodium in your stuffing will vary depending on what kind of spread you use. (For our purposes, we used butter). All brands were purchased Oct. 30 in the Chicago area. Prices are subject to change.

Brand Name: Stove Top (Kraft)
Cost: $1.25 at Walmart; $2.49 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 6 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1/6th of the box, dry mix) 100 calories (5 from fat), 1 gram of total fat (2% recommended daily value), 500 milligrams of sodium (21% recommended daily value), 22 grams of total carbohydrates (7% recommended daily value)
Taste: Onions and celery are abundant in this blend, providing a nice crunch and some perky zest. Good stuff.

The Big Box Store: Walmart
Brand Name: Great Value
Cost: $1.04
Size: 6 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1/6th of the box, dry mix) 110 calories (10 from fat), 1 gram of total fat (1% recommended daily value), 400 milligrams of sodium (17% recommended daily value), 22 grams of total carbohydrates (7% recommended daily value)
Taste: We like the seasoning in Stove Top just fine, and Great Value's seasoning is similar. But a noticeable use of rich, succulent chicken broth makes this more scrumptious. Excellent stuff.

The Grocery Store: Jewel-Osco (owned and operated by Supervalu, parent to such grocery retailers as Shop 'n Save and Albertsons, and number 47 on the Fortune 500 list.)
Brand Name: Jewel
Cost: $1.59
Size: 6 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1/6th of the box, dry mix) 100 calories (5 from fat), 1 gram of total fat (1% recommended daily value), 500 milligrams of sodium (21% recommended daily value), 22 grams of total carbohydrates (7% recommended daily value)
Taste: Suspicious that this brand's nutritional facts are identical to Stove Top's, and the seasoning is similar. Not quite as much crunch from the celery. Also good stuff.

The Mini Market: Aldi
Brand Name: Chef's Cupboard
Cost: 89 cents
Size: 6 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1/6th of the box, dry mix) 110 calories (10 from fat), 1 gram of total fat (1% recommended daily value), 400 milligrams of sodium (17% recommended daily value), 22 grams of total carbohydrates (7% recommended daily value) (NOTE: Nutritional facts for prepared stuffing will vary depending on what spread you make it with.)
Taste: Another alleged copycat, this one matching all the nutritional facts for Great Value's mix. But the chicken broth flavor wasn't as strong, and the bread mix was the crumbliest of the bunch. Nevertheless, good seasoning, on par with Stove Top. Good (and cheap) stuff.

Greatest Value: We liked the crunch of the celery in Stove Top, and the seasoning satisfied. But this is one of the most expensive brands, and the store brand equivalents taste just as good, in one case better. On a scale of 0 to 10, Stove Top scores a 5.

The Jewel brand is the priciest store brand, and its taste is comparable to Stove Top and Aldi's cheaper variety. Because it's more expensive than Stove Top at Walmart, we're giving this the same value score: 5.

Although we're annoyed that the breading in Aldi's stuffing mix is so small, the seasoning scores, and quality is great for the price. Value score: 8.

But the best tasting stuffing of all is Walmart's Great Value. Each forkful was so flavorful thanks to that boost from the broth. This stuffing will work great for Turkey Day, and at just over a buck, you don't have to spend much for all that comfort. Value score: 9.

Piet Levy's Store Brand Scorecard tests a major label food product and three private label equivalents to see which brand offers the best value for the price. It appears every Monday on WalletPop's Money College page. Send suggestions, including items you want Levy to try, to moneycollege@walletpop.

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