How To: Make 8 Meals From One Turkey

One of my favorite tips for eating frugally is purchasing meat at its rock bottom price, then learning ways to “stretch” it to make multiple meals. Turkey can be expensive throughout most of the year, but at least once every year, it goes on MEGA sale. So, around Thanksgiving, I buy as many as I can get at that low price, then freeze them. I have heard of people buying as many as 12 turkeys, then pulling one out of the freezer every month. If you can get 8 meals out of one turkey, then that’s 1/4 of your dinners! (Actually it’s a good bit more than 8 meals, because most of these meals I’m going to share with you will give you lots of leftovers, too!)

The turkey you see above was almost 13 pounds. It was on sale for $0.58/pound, and I used a $1 off Shady Brook Farm Turkey coupon, which was available around that time as well, so I got this turkey for right around $6.50. I pulled it out of my freezer and thawed it. Today’s lesson is just going to be the turkey preparation: How to roast it, divide it, and make the broth. With each subsequent post, I will hopefully give you another recipe. They will all be gluten free, because that’s how I cook, but if you’d like to modify them, that is of course fine.

First, give your turkey a good rub with seasonings. Here’s my favorite:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

Mix all together, and rub it all over your turkey, trying to get it under the skin (against the meat) as much as possible, and inside the cavity. This will give your turkey an outstanding flavor, and your broth, too!

Then, roast your turkey. I roast mine upside down from most instructions, so that the juices run down into the tougher breast part and make it softer. The package should tell you how long to roast it, and at what temperature.

After it’s roasted comes the fun part. You have to “pick” the turkey, as my Grandma used to call it, taking all the meat off the bones. As I take the meat off the bones, I cut it up into bite-sized or smaller pieces and put it in containers. The containers I use hold right about a pound.

Today I filled up 7 containers. The eighth container has the neck in it. I really do not have the patience to pick all the tiny pieces of meat out of that neck bone, but my Dad LOVES it (he says the meat is more tender) so I am going to give it to him as a little “gift”.

Now here’s an important part: As you pick the meat off the bones, DO NOT throw those bones away. Don’t even throw the fat away. Sounds totally gross, but put every bit of the carcass, fat, bones, whatever, into a big soup pot. You are going to use them to make the broth. It will make it SO flavorful.

Once I have all my meat in containers, I like to add a little bit of the drippings to each container, just to keep the meat moist. I strained the drippings from the bottom of my pan and got enough to add to all of these containers, plus about 1-1/2 cups left over, which I will use to make gravy.

Finally, cover all those bones with water, and add a little salt. I always throw in a few onions, too, just to give it more flavor and nutrition. If you want a full stock, add as much as you want of carrots, celery, onions, etc. Just remember, they will be discarded when the broth is finished and you strain it.

Allow to simmer on the stove top for at least several hours, up to all day (or all night)! Strain your broth into containers, and refrigerate/freeze.

Stay tuned for all the upcoming ways to make use of the turkey and broth!

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