My household is small, by family standards. It is just my 18 yr old son, a menagerie of animals and myself. But at Thanksgiving I chose to cook a 13.5 lb turkey. I thought the process of selecting a turkey would be as simple as it has been in years past.
Every grocery store around had a special price on turkey and the prices were as low as $.39 a lb, such a deal! But in years past I had never paid attention to what I had to do to get the "special" price. You have to buy a minimum dollar amount of groceries. The more you spent the cheaper the turkey got. I have always cooked for a crowd because my house has always been where all the "orphans" came for holidays, and I love the feeling of sharing the occasion with all sorts of people. That being said, $100.00 spent on a huge feast to feed 20 people was not unusual. But this year I couldn't do it (spend $100 bucks, the invitation to orphans was still open). Not only did I not have a spare $100 dollars in the budget, I didn't need that much for the meal. Because I have been shopping carefully, stocking up on pantry items when on sale and buying less convenience foods I already had most of the basics for the meal.
I had asked my son what foods bring to mind Thanksgiving. What was important to him that be on the table for it to be a genuine holiday feast. This was what he came up with:
Green Bean Casserole
Cool Whip (this kills me, I am a real whipped cream person all the way)
Seems like a lot for just a couple of people, but hey, I asked. So I started doing an inventory of the cupboards and refer to determine what I already had. This is what was on hand:
Canned green beans (bought at a 2/1.00 sale a couple of weeks before)
Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup (bought that week on sale for $.89)
2 packages of french fried onions NOT French's (bought at the Dollar Tree earlier, $1 each, not quite as good as French's, but still good)
Potato's (always have these on hand)
Stuffing fixings (actual bread stuffing, chicken stock, ect)
Eggs (bought that week with a store coupon for $.99)
condiments to make deviled eggs
Olives (bought at the Dollar Tree earlier, then I saw them on sale for $.89 thanksgiving week)
Pickles (always have these in the refer)
Dark Caro Syrup (Don't know when I bought this, but there it was!)
Everything I needed to make pie crusts
I was shocked and I must admit pleasantly surprised to realize I had so much of the meal right in my cupboards.
My grocery list ended up looking like this:
Heavy Whipping Cream
When I happily trotted off to the store to pick up my tiny list and my $.39 lb turkey I was shocked to find it was $1.79 a lb without the minimum purchase! Yikes! And that minimum purchase is BEFORE they ring up the turkey. Okay, I needed to regroup. I went back home, got online and did some research on all the stores it would be feasible for me to stop at in my normal travels that day. I ended up finding the turkey for $1.59 lb, and they had a $3.00 off coupon if it was over 12.5 lb and "fresh". Not exactly the deal of the century, but better than $1.79 lb. On the way there I stopped at another dollar discount store and found pumpkin puree. I ended up buying:
13.5 lb turkey for $18.47
.5 lb pecans for $3.47
Heavy whipping cream $1.49
2 2ltr soda $1.76 ($.88 ea)
1 can pumpkin puree
total at grocery store= $25.89
Plus I figure about $10.00 for all the stuff I had already. So Thanksgiving dinner cost around $36.00. We ate leftovers for 3 days then it was time to be done with it.
We still had a lot of turkey left on the carcass so I cleaned off all the meat, and put it in a large pot to boil. When it was done I again cleaned off any extra meat while discarding the bones. I had several quarts of turkey broth and extra meat for turkey rice soup, enough meat to make turkey sandwiches for my son's lunch for several days, and made turkey noodles (with peas and corn mixed in) for lunch that day.
As much as I hated paying $1.59 lb for the turkey in the end I feel the whole process was a good investment. We had a lovely holiday and enough leftovers to feed us about a week. Not bad for $36.00 bucks, right?
One Frugal Thing I did today-
I made my college age son lunch to take to classes instead of him buying fast food when he is STARVING after class. A turkey sandwich, homemade chocolate chip cookies, cheeto-like cheese puffs from the dollar store and a container of homemade potato salad.