Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's never too soon to talk turkey. Really.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, $3.86 billion in turkey sales was forecast for 2007.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner (trust us, it will be here before you know it), many people are already in the planning stages for this year’s holiday meal. With the current economic issues that many families are facing, they are looking for ways to save money, this year.

According to Chef Paul Magnant, dean of culinary and hospitality at Stratford University, the turkey is the first place to look for cutting costs.

“Typically, we spend about 70 percent of our food dollar on the protein or ‘center’ of the plate,” says Chef Magnant. “So, logically, it makes sense to try to save money in the largest expense area, which is the turkey.”

To do this, he suggests that consumers consider buying bone-in turkey breast. This is because, although whole turkeys tend to be the most popular option, they only provide 40 percent of the weight-yield after cooking. Therefore, that typical $.99 per pound really amounts to over double what was paid at the register, when you consider what is edible after cooking.

“Consumers end up getting less than they think they do. To save money, it’s usually best to go with the bone-in turkey breast,” suggests Chef Magnant. “You get more for your money, they take less time to cook, and they are easy to roast.”

“Another tip is to use Pepperidge Farm stuffing found in the bag at the supermarket, affirms Chef Magnant. The spices and herbs will make a great addition to the meal. They are the only company that I know of that incorporates the herbs and spices into the bread dough before baking,” he says.

Other money-saving tips for this holiday season include:
· using all leftovers to prepare additional meals
· scouring store advertisements to find bargains
· comparing cost of like-items by brand
· having a potluck holiday gathering where everyone brings a dish
· planning the meal in advance so there is no impulse buying
· writing a grocery list and sticking to it while shopping

“Holiday meals can get pricey,” adds Chef Magnant. “But it doesn’t have to be like that. As long as someone puts forth the effort, they can save money and still have a great gathering.”

Stratford University’s culinary arts program offers several degrees, including concentrations in baking and pastry, as well as advanced culinary arts. The school also offers non-degree public one-day culinary courses covering such topics as beginner baking, knife skills, vegetarian cooking and cake decorating, as well as parent-and-child cooking.