Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall is Falling! and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

Summer finally arrived – briefly – and now it’s back to cooler weather again tomorrow. I have to admit the idea of cool and less humid is very appealing. I love Fall weather – cool nights and brisk days and blue skies. And have you noticed that the leaves are starting to fall already?

What makes it official, though, that it’s almost fall is that Marsh has pumpkins for sale. Honest! Already! It’s one thing for them to be at the Farmers Market, but on sale at a grocery store? Don’t worry, though. I’m not going to be talking about how to cook them today, though there are some recipes here for things to do with pumpkins that don’t involve making pumpkin pie…

Marsh has pie pumpkins for $1.99 each. These are smaller than field or jack-o-lantern pumpkins and better for making pies or using in other dishes. Gala apples and Bartlett pears are $1.29 a pound. Family packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.88 a pound, as are pork chops. Milk is $2.99 a gallon, but if you buy five of a various things you can get a dollar off of each of them, bringing the price down to $1.99 a gallon.

Kroger has broccoli crowns, Roma tomatoes, and romaine and red and green leaf lettuce for 99 cents a pound. Two heads of cauliflower or celery are $3.00, or $1.50 each. Iceberg lettuce is 99 cents a head. Bone-in turkey breast is $1.29 a pound and chicken wings are $1.99 a pound. Milk is $2.69 a gallon. Cottage cheese is $2.29 for 24 ounces and cheese is $3.79 for twelve to sixteen ounces.

Aldi has green and red grapes $1.98 for two pounds, or 99 cents a pound. Navel oranges are $2.49 for three pounds, or 83 cents a pound. Avocados are 49 cents each. 32-ounces of non-fat Greek yogurt is $3.89.

And there’s still lots of great produce available at the Farmers Market. If you receive Food Stamps, don’t forget that you can exchange up to $18 of food stamps for up to $36 of Market Bucks, effectively getting your produce, meat, eggs, and dairy for half-price.

It’s way too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving turkeys, either, though turkey breast is on sale this week. That’s ok, though – just the turkey breast. I can handle that all year long. And better to be talking about it now than closer to the big day.  If you think about it, turkey is just another kind of meat. It’s really the side dishes that make it seem Thanksgiving-y. So let’s steer clear of candied sweet potatoes and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce for now, shall we?

I did some looking around online, and came up with an average size turkey breast is between 4 and 8 pound and that you should buy about half a pound of turkey per person. SLOW COOKER TURKEY BREAST calls for a six-pound turkey, so that falls right in there, and should make about twelve servings, or three meals for four people each. Each serving will cost about 70 cents a serving, or $2.80 for four servings. A bit less if you make your own ONION SOUP MIX, a bit more if you a commercial mix. Don’t throw out the cooking liquid when you cook the turkey breast! It makes a great soup.

Let’s start with hot sliced turkey, broccoli, and CARROT SALAD. The turkey is $2.80, a pound and a half of broccoli is $1.50, and the Carrot Salad is $1.30, for a total of $5.60 for four servings, or $1.40 per serving.

The second meal will also be sliced turkey breast, either hot or cold, with FAUXPOTATO SALAD and sliced tomatoes. (What on earth is Fauxpotato Salad? It’s just potato salad made with cauliflower instead of potatoes. Sound strange? Well, remember that I don’t eat potatoes. Oddly enough, cauliflower makes a pretty good substitute. You could make your own potato salad, but at least try your recipe once with cauliflower instead of potatoes!) The turkey breast is still $2.80, the Fauxpotato Salad is $1.75, and a pound of Roma tomatoes is 99 cents (let’s call it $1.00), for a total of $5.55. How about half a pound of grapes to go with it, which brings it to $6.05. You can back off a bit of either grapes or tomatoes to get rid of that extra 5 cents and bring it back to $6.00 or less for four people, or $1.50 per person. How much Fauxpotato Salad you’re going to get depends on how big your head of cauliflower is, but I’m assuming you’re going to get at least four cups of florets from half a head of cauliflower.

The third meal will be a leftovers kind of meal. You should have roughly a third of the turkey breast left, but it might be in scraps instead of nice slices. No problem. Use it to make EASY CHICKEN DIVAN, but use turkey instead of chicken and use fresh broccoli. You could use a combination of broccoli and cauliflower if you wanted to, or even all cauliflower for a different dish. It depends on how big the heads of cauliflower are. Either way, it should make six servings and cost about $6.90, or $4.60 for four servings, if you use CREAM OF WHATEVER SOUP MIXAt least another dollar if you use canned soup. Add half a head of lettuce, a couple of Roma tomatoes and some salad dressing for a whole meal for right around $6.00, depending on how much salad dressing you use.

Budget Lunch

And finally, there’s the cooking liquid from slow cooking the turkey breast. I hope you didn’t throw it out! Skim off the fat (optional) and add enough water to make between four and six cups. Heat it and add half a head of cauliflower (about six cups). Cook it until the cauliflower is very soft, puree it in a blender or food processor or using a stick blender (Don’t have any of these? Borrow a food processor or stick blender from MHC’s Hub Tool Share Program. It’s free!) Add a cup or so of half and half and you’ve got about ten to twelve cups of really tasty soup. Enough for four good sized servings at a cost of about $1.15, or less than 30 cents each! That’s figuring that the cooking liquid is free, since we’ve counted all the cost in the turkey. Instead of using the cauliflower you could use the leftover Easy Chicken (Turkey) Divan, which would bring the cost up to $2.70, or about 70 cents per serving. Myself, I’d save the Turkey Divan for another meal and make the cauliflower soup. But it’s up to you. Just be sure that you don’t toss the cooking liquid from the turkey!

Even with pumpkins and turkey on sale, it’s much too early to be thinking about Halloween, let alone Thanksgiving. But turkey is much too good to bring out only on holidays. Enjoy it all year long, when it’s on sale.

Happy Eating!

---Mary Anne---

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