It’s that time of year again, the first of November and believe it or not it is time to start thinking about your Thanksgiving meal. In order to save the most money on your feast, you need to be thinking now about what you will serve. And you need to be catching the best sales in the next two weeks to save big!
I find most people have quite a few questions around how to buy a turkey, how to cook it and even what in the world to do with all those leftovers afterwords. Hopefully the information below will help you out.
Budgeting for Your Dinner
One of the things most people don’t think about is actually budgeting for their holiday meals. If you plan ahead and use a Grocery Budget List you can really save a lot just by going in prepared. I make a list now of all the things I would like to make.
Then depending on what is on sale, my meal plan might change a bit. You will most likely find your best deals the first 2-3 weeks of November. I have experienced that once the week of Thanksgiving hits, most prices go up. So shop now so you never have to pay full price!
Tips for Purchasing a Turkey
If you have never purchased or cooked a turkey before it can be a bit daunting. Here are a few tips to help you make this an easy task.
- Best Prices :: Start early around $.49/lb and you shouldn’t exceed $1.69/lb
* Whole Turkey – $.49 – $.99/lb
* Turkey Breast only – $.99 – $1.69/lb
- Plan for 1 to 1.3 lbs per person for a whole turkey, if you want leftovers (i.e. – approx. 13 lb turkey for 10 guests)
- 1/2 – 3/4 lb per person for turkey breast only (not a whole bird)
- The larger the bird, the higher the proportion of meat to bone
- Over 15 guests :: Turkeys over 18 -20 lbs tend to take take forever to cook and turn out too dry; so if you need that much meat, think about purchasing two smaller birds.
- Turkey Breast vs. Whole Bird :: If you are having a smaller group or are short on time, turkey breasts might be your best option. They cost a little more per pound, but for many are well worth the convenience. If you catch an early sale, you can get them for the same price as the whole turkey.
- Save the carcass and leftovers to make turkey stock and soups for freezing
Defrosting the Turkey
One of the most important things you need to do is defrost the turkey in advance. It will do you no good to have the right size turkey and a killer recipe if it is frozen solid.
There are two ways you can do this:
- In the Refrigerator :: The best way to defrost a turkey is to put it in the refrigerator on a sheet pan two days before you are ready to cook it. Or plan on about 4-5 hours per pound of meat. If you are going to do a brine overnight, you want to possibly look at three days, but it can also defrost in the brine.
- Cold Water Bath :: This is a great option if you find you ran out of time and forgot to put it in the refrigerator. I actually use this method for most of my frozen meats at home. Simply take the packaged turkey and put it into a sink or large pot full of cold water. It will defrost in about 1/4 of the time as the refrigerator. Be sure to change out the water every hour or so to make sure the water stays cold.
Recipe Ideas for Leftover Turkey
So, you know you will have some leftover turkey because you bought a bird big enough to allow for some extra meat. This is a great way to stretch your dollar, not to mention all your efforts. There are so many ways you can use leftover turkey, but below are a few of my ideas.
- After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup
- Turkey Tetrazzini (this recipe calls for chicken or turkey)
- Turkey, Stuffing and Cranberry Sandwich (yes, all three loaded up)
Have some great turkey tips or recipe ideas for leftover turkey? Please leave them in the comments below.