Of late, watching the checker add up the grocery bill is enough to invoke a small panic attack. Prices for everything are up, and it is making it difficult to keep wholesome food on the table. It seems that every week prices jump another nickel to a dollar on everything in the store.
Rising prices are not unexpected, but the steady climb to the sky leaves many shoppers leaving wholesome foods on the shelf in favor of carb-laden, GMO-laced (genetically modified organisms) processed foods.
There is no simple solution, but learning how to cook and prepare wholesome meals from scratch is the best way to sidestep the insane price jumps at the grocery store.
Turkey to the rescue
Roast turkey breast is one way to keep food on the table and balance out some of the prices. For two to three people, it can provide 3-5 days of nutritious, delicious meals, in the form of classic roast turkey dinner, turkey sandwiches, turkey tacos, turkey casserole and more. The beauty is that the price tag is rarely over $20.
Turkey is a remarkable protein to work with. More flavorful than chicken, turkey is also nutritious and lean. An 8-ounce serving off a typical pre-basted breast only has:
- About eight grams of fat.
- Of this, over half of that fat is unsaturated.
- About 135 milligrams Omega-3 fatty acids
- About six grams of protein.
- 20 milligrams vitamin B-3
- All nine amino acids; it is a complete protein.
How to buy turkey breast
Options for buying turkey breast include fresh, frozen, on the bone, boneless, pre-basted, pre-roasted, natural, hormone free and organic. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
The price is usually the first point to note, but not always the most important. Wholesomeness varies based what the bird ate, whether the farmer dosed it with hormones and antibiotics, how it is prepared and packaged for sale, and how it is cooked.
- Frozen - Advantages: least expensive; can keep frozen for up to 3 months. Disadvantages: might be lower quality; have to defrost. Price in the Portland area: $.99- $3 per pound.
- Fresh - Advantages: moderate prices; can cook right away. Disadvantages: a limited number of stores carry it.Price in the Portland area: average $3 per pound.
- Boneless - Advantages: no need to cut meat off the bone. Disadvantages: less flavorful, more processed. Price in the Portland area: $3-$7 per pound.
- Bone-in - Advantages: more flavorful, bones make it easy to make homemade stock. Disadvantages: have to carve off the bone. Price in the Portland area: varies depending on the store, processing and farming practices.
- Pre-basted - Advantages: can roast without any additional preparation. Disadvantages: contains artificial ingredients, the extra liquid increases the price without increasing the meat. Price in the Portland area: varies depending on the store, processing and farming practices
- Natural - Advantages: none. Disadvantages: There is no definition of "Natural" in food labeling, so it is a meaningless label. Price in the Portland area: varies depending on the store, processing and farming practices.
- Hormone/antibiotic free - Advantages: the bird did not receive hormones or antibiotics. Disadvantages: more expensive. Price in the Portland area: $6-$8 per pound.
- Organic - Advantages: the meat is wholesome, free of GMOs, hormones and antibiotics. Disadvantages: Pricey and difficult to find outside of the holiday season. Price in the Portland area: Varies, market-based.
Foster Farms is one of the few widely available brands that does not use hormones and produces the turkey locally. Safeway sometimes carries it, as do other stores that sell Foster Farms products. The price point is usually around three dollars per pound for a fresh breast. Sometimes it is frozen instead of fresh, which has little impact on the price or quality. Ask the butcher to order in the breasts if they are not available, and keep asking until they do.
Target, surprisingly, carries inexpensive frozen turkey breasts. The price is usually between one and two dollars per pound for a large bone-in breast. However, the label does not indicate it is hormone free or locally produced.
New Seasons and Whole Foods carry the best quality, and most expensive, turkey breasts. Both stores proudly carry free-range turkey that is also hormone and antibiotic free. These are the stores that will also be sure to carry organic turkey breast, but likely only during the holiday season.
When shopping, choose the highest quality meat that fits in the budget. Though hormone and antibiotic free, locally-produced turkey is the most wholesome and sustainable choice, the price can be prohibitive. A turkey sandwich made from fresh-roast turkey breast is always better than a can of soup, a fast-food meal, or any sandwich prepared by a restaurant.
Locally-sourced turkey breast recipes
A couple of local bloggers have nice recipes for turkey or turkey breast. Any recipe that works for turkey also works for a breast, just cut the recipe in half.
- Cranberry Molasses Glazed Turkey: beautiful pictures and nice step by step instructions. This recipe features a tangy glaze and all-scratch ingredients.
- Basic Roast Turkey Breast: an essential, simple recipe that makes turkey for any cooking purpose