Over the holidays, turkey was on sale everywhere. I mean for $.67 per pound, who would ever pass up on deal like that? Me, Mrs. Frugality, would take full advantage of such a discount.
I am a person that saves money by weighing my options. When I grocery shop, I am looking for the bottom dollar, yes, but quality plays a factor as well. I think we have all suffered from buyers remorse when you get something of very, poor quality. If you buy in bulk, like myself, you are really stuck with those remorseful feelings.
Poor quality speaks for itself, in my opinion. That is typically something that is trial and error; and, there is not much I can say to help you with those decisions. Just don’t buy in bulk if you are really concerned, and be concerned. Don’t just spend freely on something you have never tried. If you do err and buy something you don’t like, donate it or use it anyways. In the great words of Macklemore, “One man’s trash is another man’s come up.” There is someone out there that likes what you bought. Trust me. Or, like I said, suck it up and use it up. I don’t believe in wasting. That is a sin in my opinion. After all, there are starving children in Africa.
To look for the bottom dollar is one of the best ways to save money. I am not a couponer. I really don’t have the time to use them. You have to shop at a lot of different stores. I don’t have that kind of will power. If I go to a store, I am unable to buy only the couponed items. I will overspend at every store I enter. I am infamous at saying, “Oh what a great deal.” and buying things that I really don’t need. Ok, so you get 10 tubes of toothpaste, or shampoo, that I don’t even use, for 1/2 the price. That’s still money that I am spending and on things that I don’t like. I am particular about certain items. I don’t use store bought shampoos or conditioners. I take very good care of my teeth and only use what my dentist told me to use. He has never steered me wrong. Having dry and cracked hair, or cavities and sensitive teeth, is not worth that kind of savings to me. In the end, you are going to pay from poor quality. Now, if I have coupons for the items I know are good, then by all means I will use them.
I have learned, over the years, to buy things when they are on sale, and buy a lot. If you are saving a lot of money, then that is when you buy. When I buy turkey I buy enough for almost a whole year. I have two refrigerators, and one large freezer. We buy beef from a friend and we have our own hogs. My husband hunts for deer. We have a large garden too. We don’t always have our freezer stocked. We unplug it when it is not being used; however, there are times when I can’t fit another thing in all 3 freezers. We have chickens for eggs only, and no turkeys, so we are limited to Amish, or store bought poultry. At first it is hard to buy in bulk because you are spending a lot of money on that one item. That is where you learn to live without for a bit. It is hard, I know, but worth the challenge. It’s ok to want for something. When you always have whatever you want, whenever you want it, you don’t appreciate it as much. We don’t eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter. We eat a lot of canned from my garden, or store bought. So when strawberries are in season, we eat our weight in strawberries. I also buy those strawberries and freeze, or can them, for the winter. They aren’t as good as when they are fresh but they are good. They are still great in smoothies, cakes, muffins, etc. Be creative. So, since you are not buying a bunch of strawberries in the winter, that is when you buy the other stuff, like ham and turkeys, that are on sale over the holidays. Buy in season and buy a lot. You are saving hundreds, maybe thousands, annually by doing that. If you want to be frugal, learn to go without and appreciate what is in season.
So what’s my point here?
We have been eating turkey and not much other poultry. When I cook turkey it is really delicious. Next time I make one I will share my techniques. The breast is great for so many recipes. After my turkey thaws, I cut my turkeys up and use the white meat, mainly. We don’t like the dark meat as much. I usually cut those sections off and freeze them again. Yes. You heard me. Freeze it again. There is a horrible misconception that you can not refreeze uncooked meats. You certainly can and I have been doing so for as long as I can remember. The recommendation is that you only thaw your meat in the frig. Ok, so do that if you are concerned. I don’t keep refrozen meat in the freezer for long though. It does tend to get freezer burnt more easily because oxygen is the enemy. Make sure you wrap it very tightly and use it within 2 months, at the latest.
So, what to do with all these turkey parts? Make a stock. Lots of it.
I made a huge pot of stock on my wood burner. It cooked for hours. It was super cheap to make. In fact, it made 8 quarts of rich, flavorful turkey stock. Turkey stock is usually around $5.00- $7.00 a quart. That’s crazy!! I made 8 quarts for about $1.00. Actually, on the day I cooked my stock I also made chicken and dumplings, so I got more like 12 quarts out of this pot. But I will stick with my conservative pricing and say 8 for $1.00.
I added a couple carrots, onions, celery, garlic, dill, sage, tarragon, parsley, thyme, the meat, salt and pepper. In the summer, when I have more available varieties, I would add parsnips and kale. Make what you have. Don’t run to the store and buy a bunch of ingredients. If you don’t have onions and garlic, dried is fine. If you don’t have the herbs, don’t include them. You can include whatever you like to whatever you are cooking, when you actually use the stock. Sometimes I do that on purpose so that I can add those flavors later. I don’t always want all those flavors in my food.
Now, there are two ways you can store your stock after you cook it. You can put it in containers with lids, (I use to use recycled sour cream and yogurt containers) or Ziploc baggies. The other is to can it in a pressure canner. That is the way I did it.
My pressure canner is invaluable. I spent $60.00 on it. Today, when I made 8 quarts of stock, I saved, on the low end of the estimate, $45.00. Just one day of stock saved me over half of what I paid for my canner.
Canning can be scary but once you do it for the first time, you start wondering why the heck you waited so long to use one. They are so simple, especially the ones in the stores these days. They simplified the process by removing the old-school gauges and replacing it with an automatic weight and gauge. I mean seriously it was so easy.
Once the stock has cooked, and the meat is falling off the bones, I ladle the liquids into the jars. I drain the meat into a bowl and add the last bit of liquid to my jars. Then I follow the instructions for canning meat that comes with your canner. Those are very easy step-by-step instructions. Be sure to follow them religiously. You will save yourself a lot of trouble that way.
When I first started canning it took me some time to understand how things work under pressure. The biggest mistake I made was adding too much, or not enough water. Even if you do these things, the finished product is still edible. It just looks funny because the water is so low. It doesn’t hurt anything. You do have to add more liquids when you actually cook the meal. It defeats the purpose of having a soup in a jar if you have to do more cooking when you are ready to eat it. There are things that you can not can, like dairy products, rice and noodles. Those are things that I add to my meal after we crack the jar open for dinner. No big deal and no one dies from botulism.
So what did I do with all the goodies that flavored my broth, the meat and veggies? I added rice and made 16 cups of dog food with it. If it were anything but turkey, I would feed it to my chickens. But I have a serious problem with feeding poultry to my poultry. I know many people do and no judgement here. It’s just not something I do. My neighbors have two dogs and they get all the rewards. I pick out the bones and smash every thing up. I cook rice in my microwave and add it to the other ingredients. I also cooked, separately, the turkey guts. I don’t care for the flavor they add to my broth but the animals love them. I just put them in with the rice when I microware the rice. You put the lid on the rice and cook it until it is tender.
If you really want to be frugal, start freezing all the scraps from cooking, like the carrots, celery, pepper and onion ends, or carcasses and meat pieces from chickens, turkeys and hams. Wash the veggies and add them to the freezer. Pull them out and throw them in the pot, just the way they are. The animals will love you for cooking those for them, instead of throwing them in the garbage.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but incorporate help from your family. Saving money is good for everyone. Think of what you can do with the hundreds of dollars you save. Don’t just think of it, show it. When you take the kids to the movies, or bowling, tell them, “Thank you for helping me be a frugal mom by helping around the house, and kitchen. With the money we saved, we can now do these fun family things together.” Or use the extra money to donate to your favorite organization. Save the money for a trip to Disney.
What a great lesson to carry through life. Teaching your family, and yourself, can be discouraging at first but don’t shriek from a challenge. Overcome and reap the rewards.