The turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. Many people hand out tips on how to buy and prepare the best turkey, but suggestions about getting the best value on a Thanksgiving bird are more difficult to find. In trying economic times, finding a deal becomes even more important. Luckily, some simple steps will help you find the best value on a Thanksgiving turkey.
First, you should decide how big the turkey should be for your economic situation. You should purchase a bird that is ¾ to 1 pound for each person who will be there for Thanksgiving dinner. A little extra will give you leftovers; if you will actually use the meat in sandwiches or soups, this can help stretch your dollar. If your family is not a group that eats leftovers, consider going with the smaller size so you have less waste and better value.
The value of the bird itself does depend upon the size of the turkey. The percentage of meat to bone is higher as the turkey’s weight goes over fourteen pounds. So any bird weighing over fourteen pounds is a better value per pound than a smaller one.
Fresh vs. frozen
When you get to the store, both fresh and frozen turkeys are likely to be available. Frozen are usually cheaper, often so much so that it is a much better value if you can create the space in your freezer and/or refrigerator for thawing. It is important to carefully follow the thawing directions on the package in order to avoid getting sick. For this basic reason, fresh birds are typically more expensive-they have special handling instructions.
The brand of turkey can also make a big difference in the price. Searching the internet, you will find many consumers that support the purchase of each particular brand of Thanksgiving turkey out there as “the best.” There may be a slight edge for Butterball, and I have to admit it is my favorite, but obviously these differences are a matter of taste rather than best value. Just be sure whatever bird you choose is grade A, and you should have good quality meat no matter which brand you choose.
Check cooking instructions
Twenty years ago and more, store-bought turkeys took longer to cook than they do now. If you prepared so many turkeys in those days that you memorized the time it took to finish, you should take another look at a modern label. Overcooking the meat dries it out and makes it more difficult to use all the pieces of the turkey. Follow the package directions.
The best choice
Searching for the best Thanksgiving turkey on a limited budget doesn’t have to be a trying experience. As long as leftovers will be used, a large, grade A, frozen store-brand turkey can save a significant amount of money on the Thanksgiving meal and leave you with a dinner just as tasty as a costly one.