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Thanksgiving main on the cheap

I'm hosting a Thanksgiving potluck for a group of friends. We're all on tight budgets and I don't think I can swing a full turkey, but I'd still like to be able to provide some sort of focal point dish with some protein. No preference as far as meat/vegetarian, but a few people don't like egg dishes, so quiches and strata and whatnot are probably out of the question. Any thoughts?

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  1. Keep an eye out for turkey specials--most grocery stores use them as loss leaders to get people into the store. Some stores in my area will give out free turkeys if you spend a certain amount (and it's not a huge amount) while other sell them for as low as 39 cents a pound.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      same here...the turkey is usually free

      1. re: chowser

        I agree, turkey is the cheapest main dish for thanksgiving. Most grocery stores give them away at cost to get you to buy the 200 dollars worth of stuff that you need to go with the turkey. And as LaLa said many grocery stores do promos to give them away. Even at Whole Foods or Wegmans the turkey would be the lowest cost main and one goes a long way. Roast the turkey in some herbs and your guests will think it cost way more than it did.

        1. re: drake0388

          Agreed. You should be able to buy a turkey cheaply, at the very least. Another possibility is a roast chicken. But the turkey will be a better buy. Another decent buy might be a ham.

          A nicely roasted turkey is easy to accomplish, and with some extras--like the herbs drake has suggested--your guests and you will feel that they have had a true Thanksgiving.

          Sides such as homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes are not expensive to do either.

      2. Roast pork maybe? Pork butt...

        If not a lot of people, then how about substitute with a chicken?

        1. What about a pot pie? You can use less poultry meat and still have a warm comforting meal.

          1. How about Turkey (rather than Chicken) Tetrazzini? This dish can be made w/1 or another canned cream soup (mushroom + celery work well together). I like to add some sort of shredded cheese; but, this is completely optional. Don't forget bread crumbs + melted butter/margerine on top. Obviously, a variety of things might be added & you could serve w/canned cranberry sauce for a holiday touch. W/a side salad & good bread, could go over well @ little cost.

            1. Turkeys this time of year are cheap. I usually buy several to have throughout the year. Save your grocery spending for one trip that gives you the discount price (like $6 with a $25 purchase).

              1 Reply
              1. re: wyogal

                I agree. Turkey is the cheap part of the meal. Add mashed potatoes, stuffing made with old bread (day old stores abound) and a vegetable of greens and you have a full meal. If someone is willing to make a pumpkin pie and someone else adds some heavy cream for whipping you have a feast.