Six Meals from a $6 Turkey (Part 1 of 4)

picture292You will never find a less expensive turkey than you will in the month of November.  I used a supermarket coupon delivered right to my mailbox, and picked up a 12 pound turkey for $6.  Over the next four posts, we will make six entrees, each serving four people (with leftovers!), with this $6 turkey.

That’s $1 a night for a family, or 25 cents per person.  Are you with me?

Today we’ll bake our turkey, divide the meat into four portions (freezing three portions), and we’ll make a whole lot of turkey broth.  Don’t worry, this requires very little attention – you won’t be trapped in your kitchen all day.  On November 7th, we’ll make large quantities of three different soups, perfect for freezing or sharing with loved ones.  November 9th we’ll make an awesome turkey Stromboli for dinner, and also a few BBQ bread pockets to freeze for hot lunches later this winter.  November 11th we’ll lighten things up with a savory, main dish salad.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients for Today

1 thawed turkey, approximately 12 pounds



1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Step 1) Make sure your turkey is not frozen.  Most supermarket turkeys are sold frozen, and take a few days to thaw in the refrigerator.  I let mine thaw in the fridge for 3 days.  Whatever you do, do NOT leave a frozen turkey at room temperature in an attempt to make it thaw faster.  This can make you sick.

Step 2) Realize that your turkey is simply an ingredient, and will be picked apart in short order.  Your turkey will not be starring in a live performance of a Charles Dickens novel, so don’t get all stressed out and precious about it, OK?  Nobody cares if this turkey is perfectly browned, or perfectly shaped, or perfectly carved.  Nobody.  It just needs to get done.

Step 3)  Place your turkey on a large pan with sides.  An official roasting pan is great if you have one.  A jelly roll pan or other large pan will work fine, too.  Just make sure your pan has sides.  Make sure there is nothing weird inside of your turkey, like a plastic bag of gravy (not that I’ve, er, ever forgot to check).

Step 4) Brush your turkey all over with a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil.  This will help keep your turkey moist.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on your turkey.  This is as fancy as we need to be.  It’s an ingredient, remember?

Step 5) Place your turkey in a preheated 325 degree oven for 4 hours.  This is a bit longer than a thawed, 12 pound turkey should take, but I don’t like to take any risks with undercooked poultry.  If you have a meat thermometer, stick it in the meatiest part of your turkey, but not against a bone.  When your turkey is done, the temperature should be at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

picture293Step 6) Using a carving knife, and then using your fingers, pull all of the meat off of your turkey.  Take your time – this isn’t difficult, but will take a little while.  Divide the turkey into four, quart size containers.  You can separate light meat from dark meat, or mix it all up, whichever you prefer.  Place three containers in your freezer, and picture294save one for soup day!

Step 7) Place your turkey carcass in the largest pot you have and cover with three gallons (12 quarts) of water.  If you don’t have a large enough pot, you can divide your turkey carcass approximately in half, and cover each half with 1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) of water.  If you have any vegetable scraps in your freezer (onion peels, carrot ends, that sort of thing), add them to your pot.

Step 8) Bring your pot to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for at least 8 hours… the longer, the better!  While your broth is cooking, gather up a bunch of storage containers (I use quart size yogurt containers).  Also, make room in your refrigerator and/or freezer.

Step 9) Using a ladle, a sieve, and your patience, strain all of the broth into storage containers.  Refrigerate and/or freeze.  You’re done for today!

Planning Ahead

On Soup Day (two days from now), we’re going to turn this broth and one portion of turkey into three different soups.  You’ll need the following ingredients on hand:

1 large bunch of kale (or other green, if you prefer)

1 bag of carrots

1 bunch of celery

2 sweet potatoes

2 onions

1 can of cannellini beans

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup of milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

salt, pepper, baking powder, allspice, and salt-free seasoning blend

See you in two days!

5 replies to “Six Meals from a $6 Turkey (Part 1 of 4)

  1. One year, the market actually paid us to take a turkey home – now that’s a deal! Fed my family for days. Great share – looking forward to following along.

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