Free Turkey! $1 Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge


It’s beginning to look like I may actually be able to pull off this $1 Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge. At least today I made a big step in the right direction and I’m sitting in a pretty good position to get all the things that I will need. Of course, then I actually have to make an edible meal which anyone who followed my Eating Well On $1 A Day Challenge knows is far from certain.

I went to see if the free $10 US Bank Reward Visa Card coupon I found was legit and was happy to find out that it was. I had to listen to a talk and was given a bunch of information about different accounts and credit cards being offered by the bank, but did not need to open an account or apply for a card. That gave me $10 to spend toward the turkey and other items I still needed, but things went even better than anticipated. This is what I was able to come home with:

free turkey and more

1 gallon of milk
Dreyer’s ice cream
2 five lbs boxes of Cuties clementine oranges
1 dozen eggs
Kerrygold pure Irish butter
Turkey

The total for the above came to…

free turkey receipt

free turkey receipt 1

Yep, you read that correctly — the total was $0.00 so I didn’t even touch the $10 Visa card. This was not expected and it wasn’t until I arrived home that I was able to look over the receipt closely and work out what happened.

The ice cream and milk ended up being free from the Catalina coupons I found. The dozen eggs were free for signing up for Safeway’s new club card eCoupons (it automatically came off when I scanned the club card). I had a free coupon for Kerrygold butter and 2 free coupons for 5 lbs boxes of Cuties clementines which I had received from a food blogging convention I had attended last month in San Francisco and had been saving for an occasion just like this.

Since the price of all these items was over $20 before coupons, that brought the price for the turkey down to $6.77. I assumed I would have to place $6.77 on the Visa card, but what actually happened was that the free coupons ended up scanning for the regular price instead of the club card price creating an overage that entirely paid for the turkey (I actually had $1.74 overage so I could have even purchased more if I had known).

My nieces will love the clementines and the ice cream can be served with the pumpkin pie. The eggs and milk might come in handy if I decide to make some things from scratch — I am now considering whether I really want to attempt that with a pumpkin pie with all the other cooking I will have to do. That means I am now only missing mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, salt, pepper and veggies to stuff the turkey with $11.00 ($10.00 from the Visa card and $1.00 which was the original budget) still to spend.

So, do you think I should attempt the pumpkin pie from scratch?

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27 Responses to Free Turkey! $1 Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge

  1. Nikki says:

    Wow! That’s phenomenal! I knew you could do it!

    If you can get a frozen pumpkin pie, do it. I think you could make one from scratch fairly easily, but with everything else you’re making, it might be worth it to have one you don’t have to think about.

    Also, start thinking about the timing of everything – when you have to start making each thing to get it ready on time, and hot for dinner.

  2. BillsBeloved says:

    How are you planning to cook the turkey?
    Generally the turkey needs almost 3 days to thaw in the fridge. The turkey could also be placed in a cooler (then close the lid tight) to thaw. Your size should thaw in 48 hours that way.
    To help with the timing of everything, you could cook the turkey on Wed, keep it overnight in the fridge, and then warm it up on Thursday.

  3. Teresa says:

    I think you can do it. There should be a recipe on the can of pumpkin puree. If you follow that exactly you can do it. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to mix up the mixture and about an hour to bake it.

    With the turkey:
    My trick that my father in law taught me (that is if you don’t plan on stuffing the bird with stuffing) is to place the breast side down in the pan and butter it so that it will turn golden brown. I’ve done this for the past 10 years with turkeys and they are awesome when they come out of the oven.

    Some things you can make tomorrow (Wednesday) like the pumpkin pie.

    While turkey is cooking you can prepare the side dishes that can be kept cold and then the last couple of hours start on the warm dishes like potatoes, some of the vegetables, etc….

    Interested in seeing all the results.

    Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. nichole says:

    You have enough money available just buy a pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie, they taste almost identical but sometimes sweet potato pies are cheaper.

    If you can get potatoes cheaper than boxed mashed potatoes make your own mashed. Just put milk and butter into them when you mash them and they turn out really good.

    Also, if you’re able to, I would recommend getting a few spices to season the turkey with (such as rosemary or thyme), and you may need more butter.

  5. Tricia says:

    Wonderful job, you are an inspiration.

  6. T says:

    Buy the pie. Don’t stuff your turkey too full. (I actually don’t ever stuff, but that’s your call.)

    Consider brining the turkey, and you can thaw in the brine in a cooler. A cold water bath (such as brine) is much safer than room temperature or near-room temperature thawing (such as in an empty cooler). Some good brine recipes and methods are online.

    Buy the potatoes today and mash them up today. If you or your sister (or a house you’re staying in) has a slow-cooker, use that to reheat them on low day of.

    Good luck!

  7. Sara says:

    DUDE!! You totally ROCK!!! I am completely jealous of your FREE Clementines…way to go!! I always do breast side down- thaw the turkey, remove the inards, rinse with water & pat dry, sprinkle salt inside cavity,place breast side down in roaster pan, rub olive oil all over the turkey- then slow cook the turkey- start it at 300 degrees for the first hour uncovered- then make a foil tent over it and lower the temp to 185 and cook it for probably 13 hours…seriously the BEST Turkey EVER- I get rave reviews every year and will never eat yucky old dry turkey again!

  8. d says:

    pass on the pie-making from scratch…esp if you mean to make the crust from scratch, too. pretty tough for a cooking newbie when you already have to make your first turkey, too! buy, buy, buy!

  9. BillsBeloved says:

    Okay, I was wrong about thawing the turkey (although it’s still better that way). Here’s what our local grocery store posted:
    It’s perfectly safe to cook a frozen turkey. Here’s how- Remember it takes about 50% longer to cook a frozen vs. a thawed turkey so make sure you don’t buy one over 18 lbs. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Unwrap the turkey and bake in the oven for one hour. Remove the turkey and brush with olive oil and season with poultry seasoning. Place turkey back in the oven for two more hours. Then remove turkey again and pull out bag of giblets. The bag should be soft at this point and no longer frozen. This is the hardest part but you have to do it because you don’t want the bag to melt or you won’t be able to eat the turkey. After you remove the plastic bag of giblets continue roasting the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. A 12 lb frozen turkey usually takes about 4 ½ – 5 hours to roast. Use an instant read thermometer not the pop up button to determine doneness. Happy Turkey Day! Heidi Diller, RD- Cub Nutritionist

  10. Mary Ann Miller says:

    I knew you would do it!!!! Your sister should be so proud of you, I know I am and I don’t even know you!! You are so inspiring!

  11. creditcardfree says:

    Here’s is foolproof pie crust:
    1 1/2 c flour
    1 1/2 tsp sugar
    1 tsp salt.
    Combine in bowl. Add 1/2 c. canola oil. Mix and add 2 TBSP milk.

    Press into pie plate, including up the sides. No need to bake before filling with pumpkin pie filling. This recipe makes one pie crust.

    I actually just cooked my first pie pumpkin in a crockpot for about 5 hours the other day. After cooking, I removed the pumpkin from the skin and put in blender to puree. I added a little water to get things moving. It will be enough for one pie, however the color will be lighter than canned pumpkin.

    Good luck!

  12. Wow. That’s so amazing, so awesome! It’s wonderful how these things work out. Too bad you didn’t know about the overage. You could’ve easily gotten the salt and pepper with that.

    I read recently that if you’re planning on making home made mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving to put them in the crock pot over night with or without the skins. I can’t seem to find where I read that so I can’t give you a link or specific instructions, but it was definitely online so a quick google search should find it.

  13. T says:

    Oh! I just remembered another turkey roasting tip.

    The first time I roasted a turkey someone on one of my online haunts advised me to pull the turkey out and put it on the counter, then put ice in a gallon-sized plastic baggie and drape the baggie over the breast for 20 minutes. This allows the “dark meat parts” to start to warm up while keeping the breast meat chilled. That way, they cook unevenly and the white meat is less prone to drying out while the dark meat is cooking (since they need to come to different internal temperatures to be done).

    Good luck!

  14. Chris says:

    I just hope you lovely sister doesn’t cry “fowl” for foraging the trash for catalinas. Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉

  15. cinnamontoastgirl says:

    Don’t make the pie, pumpkin pie is one of those things that tastes pretty much the same frozen vs. homemade, so save your effort. Mashed potatoes will be much better home-made than powdered. You could get a can of cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions and make classic green bean casserole too, if you like. I second that you’ll need more butter.

  16. Michelle O. says:

    Congrats on makin it happen 🙂 As far as the pumpkin pie, all depends on what you wanna go for, is time or quality more important? if its time, either buy one already made or use canned pumpkin & a pre-made crust (very simple). If you want to try for somthin more quality/home made then makin a pumpkin pie from scratch is not hard, honestly its only a couple more steps than makin one from canned. You get a pie pumpkin (they’re the smaller ones, but not the tiny ones), just cut it open, scrap the seeds out(save them to roast), dont need to worry bout the stringy stuff too much, just aim to get most of it, its not that big of a deal. Then put em face down in a baking dish in bout a 1/2 inch of water & cover w/ foil. bake at 350 for 45 min. Then you just scrap out the flesh(comes out just like a potato) after it cools a lil. Puree the pumpkin. Not sure if you have a food processor or not, but if not your blender would work, just in smaller batches. Then you can add the rest of your pie ingredients to the blender & pour in the crust. It will be soupy, that’s normal. Then toss in the oven for however long your recipe says & wait till you can poke the center w/ a fork or toothpick n it comes out clean. Personally, i don’t think at this point its a matter of skill for you, you’ve proven you can be as resourceful as you need, so i guess the real question is what you really need more time to focus on the other parts of the meal? or will you have time to make a pie from scratch?

  17. ME2 says:

    A few people I know who are diehard “from scratch” pie bakers have said they tried using fresh pumpkin in a pie and between the hard work and the fact that the end result tasted no different than the pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin, they would never do it again.

  18. Isabel says:

    You did it! Trying to understand the receipt, it was the clamentines coupons that mostly did it right? Awesome.

  19. jeffrey says:

    @Isabel

    Yes, that is correct – it was the clamentines coupons that did it.

  20. LisaCarol says:

    Even the Barefoot Contessa says to use canned pumpkin. She also had good hints today on NPR’s Talk of the Nation about roasting turkeys. (In essence: Skip the bags and tents. Don’t open the oven. Also, make the side dishes ahead, and reheat them while the turkey is resting before you carve it.) I would make mashed potatoes from scratch if I were choosing between potatoes and pie from scratch. Good luck!

  21. Wendy Fugal says:

    This post seriously made my day. One up for the underdog! (not that you are really the underdog since you keep winning the challenges, but I think this time the odds were weighted against you)

    I am all about making food from scratch, but with holidays being so hectic anyway you just have to decide how much it will stress you and if it is worth it. If you do decide to make the pie from scratch (and I encourage it) I highly recommend baking it tomorrow to take some stress out of Thursday (plus then you have time to buy one if it flops).

    Of course if I were coming to your dinner I would just vote for a different flavor of pie. 😛

  22. Elise says:

    YOU ARE AWESOME! I’m so proud of you and I don’t even know you! Great job! My vote: buy the pie (and don’t make it- i’m a baker and make the crust and even puree the pumpkin, not worth the time or effort) BUT make mashed potatoes from scratch (so much better tasting than instant- blech!). Either way, awesome job- makes me want to dumpster dive for Qs!

  23. mmmdonuts says:

    The dogs just jumped up and ran when I shouted DAMN! You pulled that off so well, I’m in awe, and very happy for you. Another bet won!

    I cast my vote for homemade mashed potatoes, they can’t be beat. Buy the pie. You might consider buying a Reynolds Oven Bag for the turkey? It makes it all REALLY easy – no basting, no need to open the oven, the directions are straightforward right in the box, and it cuts down on cooking time.

    Wow… still shaking my head… Happy Thanksgiving, I look forward to hearing how your meal turns out.

  24. Dana says:

    Good work! I was really surprised when you revealed what your secret plan was, and how well it worked. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for catalinas while working to build up my courage to look in the store’s trash cans.

    Congrats on your great shopping haul too! Has your sister commented on any of this yet? I would love to know what she has to say.

    I agree with everyone that says to make the potatoes and buy the pie. A pumpkin pie is pretty much the same no matter who makes it, but good mashed potatoes are almost a work of art. I would also suggest that you use your $10 windfall to buy more gravy to go with your potatoes. Then again, maybe your family aren’t gravy lovers like mine. As a matter of fact, I have one relative that I think considers gravy to be a beverage.

  25. Homebody says:

    You people obviously don’t know how to make pies. Our homemade is so much better than store bought; and fresh pumpkin is better than canned. But then I bought my pumpkins right off the patch, maybe sitting around in stores they are not as good?

    Very impressed Jeffrey! Good for you!

  26. Angela says:

    Woo hoo!!!!!! Way to go! I’m so impressed!

    I must have missed somewhere on the salt thing — do you have salt and pepper? You are definitely going to need salt. And more butter, definitely more butter.

    For pie: I personally only ever make homemade. BUT, since you’ve never made pie before, buying is a great option. Make your potatoes homemade — those are seriously better than boxed. You can microwave the potatoes, slide the skins off, then mash them with butter and milk. Or you can use broth. You will need broth anyway for gravy. Which you can make by boiling the turkey parts in water with celery/carrot/onion while the turkey is cooking. By turkey parts means the neck/liver/etc.. that’s inside your turkey. Sorry if you already knew that. I don’t know how little you know about cooking!))

    Can’t wait to hear how it all turns out!

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

    ~Angela

  27. Kelli M says:

    You’ve done it! You found a legitimate way to get a free turkey!

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