$38.10 Worth of Thanks
Being the last Wednesday before Thanksgiving where you can do actually something about what you’re being told by food sections, it’s been a turkey barrage. I’m not turkey crazy in the least but I’m starting to feel the bland, meaty tug, especially since last year I went out for dinner and ended up missing picking at leftovers over the three-day weekend.
At work we were trying to find historic turkey prices and I was moderately surprised by the statistics coming from the American Farm Bureau. They’ve pegged the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner for ten at $38.10. That is totally doable if you have simple tastes but otherwise it’s kind of a sad meal. They’ve broken it down by individual items so you can see how they’ve arrived at the figure. I’m thrifty as hell and yes, New Yorkers tend to be out of touch spending-wise (I don’t need to re-remind you about New York magazine’s cheap $500 holiday party for eight do I? Ok, I do.) but come on, a 59-cent relish tray of carrots and celery? That’s dietetic and depressing.
$1.86 for a 30-oz. pumpkin pie mix and $1.89 for two pie shells…eh. While there’s no way in hell I’m coughing up $28, you can still make a quality dessert from scratch for under $5, ten dollars if you live it up. And no, most people including myself, don’t use fresh pumpkins for pies but a home made crust likely uses ingredients already in your house: flour, eggs, shortening, butter, salt, sugar, water or some variation of these. Extras like nuts or whipped cream add to the price, but only marginally. Even if you’re tempted to buy a ReadyCrust (I used to totally covet the chocolate crusts in the store when I was a kid. I could so imagine a green misty grasshopper pie in the preformed shell) read what the New York Times has to say about crust perfection.
So this year I plan on cooking some basics but probably not until Saturday and likely only for myself (Thanksgiving proper I’ll be working so no prep time and that evening I’ll have a few holiday orphans over for a turkey-free slumber party). I envision a small poultry item, stuffing of some sort, a green vegetable and possibly a potato-based dish and that’s it. I might even forgo dessert because there’s already enough sugariness in the house. But I suspect I’ll still overspend the $38.10 average.
I was just looking at heritage turkeys you can order through Fairway and even a small one, at $5.99/lb is around $70. People have been heritage gaga for the past few years. I’d like to give in to history and wild birds but this isn’t the year for financial risk. Maybe I’ll get my taste of Bourbon Red or Standard Bronze in 2007. It’ll be an antibiotic-free free-range vegetarian fed turkey for around $25 and I’m guessing I can put the whole meal together for less than the price of one heritage turkey, tasty as it may be. I’ll add it up next week and see.