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Frugal Living: How to Score a Turkey Meal for American Thanksgiving

Updated on November 20, 2017


The fabled bird, oven roasted.
The fabled bird, oven roasted. | Source


Thanksgiving -----

In the United States, it has been a harvest festival and national holiday for over a century. Most Americans have consciously or subconsciously created an emotionally-charged list of foods needed to make Thanksgiving Day complete. In other words, these individuals state to themselves, “It isn’t Thanksgiving without _A_, _B_, and _C_. Often, turkey tops the list.

This article suggests strategies for getting the turkey part of the holiday. Some of the below options will provide for other food accompaniments, in addition to the turkey, that are regarded as traditional AmericanThanksgiving Day foods. If you absolutely, positively want to be eating tryptophan-loaded turkey on Thanksgiving, and suffer from money challenges, here are some ideas. (All these suggestions assume one is NOT on Public Assistance. Those individuals have extra options.)

Possible Totally Free Meal:


Synagogues, community centers, mosques, and churches are stepping up to the plate and sharing from their abundance. Thanks guys! Look for signs saying “free Thanksgiving meal” and note the times and dates. The potential hidden cost = the expense of getting yourself there and listening to a short sales pitch of some kind about their faith, or about joining their organization. Only you can decide whether it is worth it.


Homeless shelters and some of the above organizations need helpers to cook and to serve the big turkey dinner to the guest diners. Maybe one near you has such a need and maybe it feeds the helpers sometime during the course of the day. Cost = the expense of getting yourself there and light labor from you.

Possible Very Low Cost Meal:


Finagle an invitation to someone else’s feast - someone with more food-buying money that is. Offer to bring a lower cost side dish. How about rolls? Cost = your pride and about $5 or less for the side dish? Also, it would be very decent to volunteer to help wash dishes.


Organize likewise situated friends into a communal feast. Divide tasks and food assignments. This differs slightly from number one. In number one, you are glomming on to wealthier people’s established meal. In this plan, you are all member of Fagan’s Gang and trying to make Stone Soup together. Cost = maybe your pride, and a bit of time organizing and coordinating everyone and everything.


Buy one frozen turkey TV dinner meal. Use lots of imagination, such as pretending you have a Norman Rockwell scenario and lit candles. Cost = under $6 per person.

Possible Medium Cost Meal:

Grocery stores often compete for business now. Some offer very low cost per pound birds and great price reductions on all the trimmings. Shop around! Maybe buying a turkey breast instead of an entire turkey will meet your needs and cut your expenditures a little. Cost = time to do the research or comparative shopping, and the actual grocery bill.

Turkey Needed

If eating turkey on Thanksgiving really enriches your feeling of what is right and normal, consider these tactics. If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments section. In the meantime, think about next year and start your own Turkey Club Savings Plan. If you have enough self-control and willpower, do the old weekly contribution to an envelope in the drawer. Then, next year: No worries and Bon Appetit!

Text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Everything is especially good when cooked over a charcoal grill. Thanks!

    • profile image

      B.T. 6 years ago

      Right on! Turkey breasts can be especially good when roasted in a covered charcoal grill. Enjoy!