“Thanksgiving can still be a time for your traditionally big meal, but with the right planning, you can save money and calories,” said Beverly Glaze, a registered dietician and adult program specialist with WVU Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Programs.
Glaze advises to plan your meal around your budget and not the other way around.
She suggests starting with a headcount, planning the meal a few weeks in advance and sticking with specific recipes to break down each dish into the ingredients needed. Keep a Thanksgiving shopping list and take advantage of holiday sales.
Frozen turkeys can be stored in a freezer for up to one year. If you see a frozen turkey at the right price, consider purchasing two and saving one. Grabbing extras of popular holiday sale items, like canned green beans, can also save you money in the long run.
“With all the food sales around the holidays, buying items like rolls or whipped cream will probably be cheaper than making them from scratch,” Glaze explained. “However, going the homemade route gives you options for healthier substitutions in your recipes, like using skim milk instead of whole.”
“One the best ways to ease Thanksgiving costs is to have a good plan to manage leftovers,” Glaze said.
Glaze makes a turkey soup each year with her extra turkey and vegetables.
“I can boil the turkey carcass for an hour to loosen the little remaining pieces of meat. Instead of throwing out those leftovers they become a main ingredient for a turkey soup,” Glaze said.
If you have extra stuffing, consider using it in a stuffing crust turkey pot pie. Simply add two cups of cooked cornbread stuffing to your favorite turkey pot pie recipe. Glaze said it’s a great way for extra turkey and vegetables to go to good use.
If you’re more concerned with your waistline than your wallet, the United States Department of Agriculture provides suggestions with its MyPlate Program.
MyPlate provides visual indicators, labels and easy-to-gauge portion control sizes that make it simple to recognize how much fruit, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy you consume at each meal.
At each meal, the USDA recommends having four equal sections on your plate. Each section should contain foods from the fruit, vegetable, grain and protein groups.
For an even healthier and filling option, Glaze suggests making at least half of your grain selections be whole grains.
“Simply selecting whole grain rolls or baguettes to serve with your Thanksgiving meal instead of white bread can improve your cardiac health,” she said.
For more recommendations on healthy and cost effective Thanksgiving planning, contact your county’s local office of the WVU Extension Service.
Beverly Glaze’s Turkey Soup Recipe
1 Turkey carcass
4 cups celery, diced
4 cups carrots, sliced
1 package frozen peas
1 medium onion, diced
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 large package egg noodles
Put turkey carcass in a large soup pot, add water to cover carcass. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. When water starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the turkey carcass, let cool on a cookie sheet. Once cooled, remove meat and add back to the soup pot along with the celery, carrots, onion, peas and bouillon cubes.
Simmer until vegetables are soft. Add noodles and boil for about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Let cool before serving.
CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
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