Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Frugal Living: Roasted Turkey

My blog posting has been slowly becoming more and more infrequent. I still enjoy doing it, but there are usually many other tasks that I choose to do first before sitting down to write a blog post. Take comfort in the fact that I continue to take lots of pictures and maybe when my husband is back in school I will pick it up more (I don't like to sit at the computer when he's home with me)!

This post topic may (or may not...I'm not always consistent) become a somewhat regular topic. I had long been leery of packaged lunchmeat and had begun to cringe when buying it at the grocery store. First of all, it's expensive; $3.99 for one package. And, when you really look at it, the stuff's just weird and funky. Processed and unnaturally slimy...

I always plan my menus by the week and then go grocery shopping (that could be another Frugal Living post). Once or twice a week I would plan on having sandwiches because we would not be home together to eat. I hated to buy that stinking lunchmeat but I couldn't think of a way around it. A few times I had some turkey breast shaved for me at the deli counter, but I still didn't really like it...have you ever seen a turkey breast the size of a basketball? Pretty sure that's processed together too. Anyway, I know I 'm getting a bit windy so back to the point.

Then I had a lightbulb (ah ha, that's it, I'm a genius!) kind of moment...

I would roast a turkey, shred it up and keep it in the freezer to use for sandwiches! And that's what I did. I roasted a turkey using Alton Brown's turkey recipe, which uses scientific principles to lock moisture into the meat via a brine...pretty cool stuff, watch the video online if you're interested. Then my husband shredded it up (while eating it too). I boiled the carcass to make broth. And this is what I ended up with:

9 cups of shredded turkey (and that's after we ate it for dinner last night and my husband's snacking) and 14 cups of broth! I did a little math to see how much money I saved. I'm not sure of the weight of my turkey because it didn't have a tag but I'm guessing it was between 10 and 12 pounds.
  • Cost of turkey: $13
    • 1 meal for two
    • 9 cups shredded meat
    • 14 cups broth
  • Cost of lunchmeat: $3.99/package (approximately)
    • I think the 9 cups of shredded meat would at least equal 4 packages. I don't have a scale otherwise I could have figured this out exactly with ounces.
  • Cost of 4 cups Swanson broth: $2.79 (suggested retail price)
To buy 4 packages of lunchmeat and 3.5 broths would have cost $25.73, and I paid $13. Was it as easy as buying a quart of broth and a package of lunchmeat? No. Do I feel better because I know exactly what is in my food? Yes! Does it taste better? Yes! Is it convenient to pull broth and turkey out of your freezer when needed? Yes! Did I buy an organic turkey? No. Would I like to in the future? Yes. This would cost more (the only option at my store was $50 and I did not want to pay that much when I know I could get it somewhere cheaper), but I think it would be worth it. Besides that organic turkey was like 20 pounds, so it would have given tons more meat and broth, balancing the ratio a little bit. Someday we might raise heritage turkeys, but that's a whole different chapter in life that I won't get into now!

I am pleased with my experiment and I hope that I have inspired you to be a bit more frugal today! Maybe you won't roast a turkey in June when your apartment is 80 degrees and it's 100 degrees outside (this is not suggested if your air conditioner is in bad shape like mine is!), but you will at least be more aware of the ways that you can save money. Have a great day!

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011


    Lasagna has become an American household staple. It's great for large gatherings and entertaining; add a salad and garlic bread and you're set. My husband frequently orders lasagna at restaurants. Yet, until I made this lasagna last month, I had never done so before. Well, I'm sure glad I did!

    This lasagna is delicious. The red sauce is loaded with flavor, and who doesn't love all that melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top? This recipe is different than some may be used to. It does not use ricotta cheese (which is a good thing if you have folks who don't like the ricotta). Instead, it is a combination of a red, meaty sauce and a bechamel sauce. I think that the bechamel sauce really contributes to the depth of flavor. While I will continue to try other lasagna recipes, this one is a winner and I highly recommend it. I split mine between two casseroles and kept one in the freezer; it held up very well and tasted fresh after defrosting and baking. The long directions may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth it!

    Lasagna (Print)
    adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
    Prep: 1 hour / Bake: 45 minutes
    Yield: 9x13-inch casserole

    Red Sauce
    2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    4-8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
    2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
    1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    2 teaspoons dried basil
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper

    Bechamel Sauce
    4 tablespoons butter
    5 tablespoons flour
    3 cups milk (I used %)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper

    1 pound ground turkey
    12 no-boil flat lasagna noodles
    16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
    8 ounces parmesan cheese, shredded

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly about 1 minute. Add the onion and mushrooms. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are soft.

    2. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and blend into a paste, if desired. I did not do this step. Return to pan and add remaining red sauce ingredients. Cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Meanwhile, continue with steps 3 and 4.

    3. Brown turkey in a skillet and set aside.

    4. Melt the 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Continue slowly whisking continually for 5-7 minutes, until sauce thickens considerably. Remove from heat.

    5. Add the turkey to the red sauce and prepare to make three layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese. You can do this in a 9x13, or two 8x8 casseroles. Place 4 noodles, slightly overlapped, in the bottom of the pan (2 noodles if doing the 8x8). Add 1/3 red sauce, 1/3 bechamel sauce, and 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Repeat twice, for a total of 3 layers.

    6. Cover the pan with greased foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.

    My Review