Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Cheap Can A Meal Be?

When we are trying to cut back on how much we spend on food, the first protein that comes to mind  is turkey. It's delicious, healthy, versatile, and cheap.

So when turkeys were on sale for $.48 a lb. last  Thanksgiving, I purchased as many as I could fit in my chest freezer. This year that number was 4. I also bought 2 brand name for $ 1.19  a lb. I cooked one of those for Thanksgiving and one for another holiday when we had invited family. Even that price is cheap for my area for poultry.  Living in the Northeast, it is the cheapest meat that I can buy per lb. Once in a blue moon, I can find chicken legs that cheap but there is not much meat on the ones here. So I never buy them.

The cheap $ .48 a lb. turkeys have made many meals for Hubby and I this winter. We usually have a roast turkey dinner the first night. Then we have leftovers the next night. Then we have turkey sandwiches - either cold or hot with gravy. Then I take all of the meat off the carcass and make turkey broth overnight in the crock pot. My broth is made with the browned skin and as many bones as I can fit in the pot of water. 

When the broth is done, it is used to make a big pot of soup that we will eat from for a couple of days. My soup isn't anything expensive or fussy. I just add diced celery, carrots, corn kernels and rice to all of the meat that has fallen off of the bones while making the broth. If the broth needs more flavor I add a few low sodium chicken bouillon cubes. All of those additions are cheap. I make the soup really thick. I have been making turkey soup this way for almost 49 years. When I first started making it, it was out of necessity because of my low food budget. My husband loves it and so do my grown children and their families.  So I make it every time we have a turkey and I swear that Hubby can't wait until that soup is simmering. It's his favorite way to enjoy the turkey.

The same night that I take all of the meat off of the carcass, I package it up into meal size portions, food saver them, and put them in my freezer for other meals.

In the future, I use some of the sliced meat to make turkey and stuffing casserole. Just make your stuffing and put it in a pan. Layer the turkey on top and then cover it all with turkey gravy and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes. This will usually feed us for a couple of meals. 

The diced meat is used to make turkey stir fry, turkey fried rice, turkey pot pies, and turkey ala king. You can substitute turkey for chicken in almost any recipe. At $ .48 a lb, it is cheaper than chicken in my neck of the woods. Even whole roaster chickens are $ .99 a lb. here on sale.

We pay $ 2.68 a lb. for 80% lean ground beef on sale. And believe me when I say that is is the worst ground beef that I have purchased. They barely take the time to grind it and there is no flavor. That  is why I buy roasts when they are on sale and grind my own ground round. I can control the fat and the size of the grind. But that is a topic for another day.

Over the years, I wish I had a dollar for every time that I have heard someone say I can't cook a turkey. I would be RICH! I have heard everything from "I  don't know how" to "I am not taking the yucky insides out of a bird". Well, if the insides gross you out that much, have Hubby do it. Most parts are in a bag. Usually just the neck has to be touched. It doesn't bite. Use rubber gloves if you have to. As far as not knowing how, follow the directions on the turkey wrapper and you can't go wrong. Or look it up on the internet. It's not that hard. The hardest part for me these days is lifting it in and out of  the oven to baste it. Hubby or one of my sons if they are here will do the heavy lifting on 20+ pound turkeys. 

The other thing that I have heard is I am not cooking a big turkey dinner. Well, if it's not a holiday meal, you don't have to. Many times I just roast an unstuffed turkey and serve it with gravy, potatoes, and a vegetable. Sometimes it is just served with a vegetable. Fussing is not a prerequisite to roasting a turkey.

The turkey I am serving for dinner tonight cost me $7.55 at $.48 a lb. It weighs 15.72 lbs. I have never really figured out exactly how many meals I can get  out of a turkey. I just know that it is many and that the cost per meal has to be really low. So I will let you know each night, what we are eating and when the turkey is gone, I will figure it out. I think we all may be amazed at how just how low the cost is. Tonight, we will have turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli for just the two of us.


  1. I'm from the South. Mom would always buy the biggest turkeys she could find, and I do mean big. One for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, one for New Year's Day, one for her birthday Jan 8, one for my sister's birthday Feb 7. The turkeys never made it past a week before they were entirely gone. A favorite breakfast for my sister and me was turkey and gravy over rice.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I love turkey and gravy over rice.