I’m a huge fan of turkey, and my other half swears I could live on turkey sandwiches. He just might be right! I can’t imagine anything I like better for a sandwich than roast turkey, and deli turkey is just not the same. I want real turkey, roasted until it reaches juicy perfection.
So last week, during our adventure at the grocery store, we looked at turkey. With our small abode, refrigerator, stove, and the two of us…a whole turkey is a bit much, even when you love turkey. A smaller option is to merely roast the breast of the turkey, right?
To fit a turkey breast into my convection oven, I typically have to snip the ribs, then flatten the breast a bit, as they are usually packaged to make them look nice and plump and round, a shape that isn’t good for that oven. If I’m opting to cook it in the slow cooker (it is delicious there too, but it does not brown) I also have to choose a breast at about 5 lbs., as our slow cooker is of moderate size and oval shape.
Alongside the frozen turkey breasts was a compact package labeled “boneless turkey breast roast.” Boneless? No boning of the breast (actually pretty easy, by the way) and no squishing or snipping to make it fit? Hmmmm
I easily imagined slicing this beautiful piece of meat with ease, and soon it joined our cart. I THOUGHT it was just under $10, but at the checkout lane, it rang up at over $13, which the correct price alone would have deterred me from trying it. This particular trick at stores probably adds a considerable amount to every family’s grocery bill each month, and even if it is not deliberate, it adds up for the grocer and the family budget. I strongly suggest paying much closer attention than I was that day, and insisting that the price paid match that of the price displayed! I didn’t have the time for a long wait in the customer service line for the $4 difference, so the store got by with overcharging me…again.
I tucked the expensive little roast into our little freezer compartment, and went about our business. This past weekend, I decided to make a “Sunday dinner” and use our expensive luxury purchase.
I thawed the roast, then opened the package…and was dismayed to discover that the roast was about 3/4 of the size of the package. That other quarter was occupied by a gravy packet. Hmmm.
It did cook quickly, and it was served with mashed potatoes, the gravy made from the packet, stuffing from a box with extra celery & onions I had sauteed, and some brussel sprouts. This dinner was way over the top for my low sodium diet!
The turkey had apparently been injected with plenty of salt. It tasted salty. The gravy was salty, and of course the boxed dressing was salty. It’s taken me three days of guzzling water and tea to start washing down all of that salt! (My ankles are beginning to reappear!) My opinion of the boneless turkey breast roast was not good.
It appeared to be the equivalent of a half turkey breast, the portion I could have easily peeled away from the bone myself, and then roasted the bones separately for some really awesome turkey broth. By doing it myself, I would have had two of these roasts, bones (with some meat on them) and the skin for stock, and spent a bit less than what I spent for this prepared roast. I wouldn’t have had that elastic sock or all of that salt either. I could have had that same type of salty gravy for under $1 from the mixes at the grocery store, or used that fantastic stock I could have made from the roasted bones & skin to make my own tasty, low sodium gravy.
That turkey roast ended up costing us about $4.50 a pound, and I could have bought fresh turkey breast cutlets for less than that. I was disappointed because of the amount of sodium that it contained (I should have read the label!) and the amount of adulteration that “roast” had undergone.
So the results are a number of lessons:
- Read labels closely, even in the meat department
- Choose less processed meats
- Avoid convenience
- Compare cost per pound on different versions of similar meats
If I had opted for the whole turkey breast, we’d have had 3-4 days of turkey sandwiches and other chicken or turkey dishes using cooked meat. I’d have spent the same amount. I would have had to spend about an hour of my own time, broken into smaller segments, preparing the whole breast for cooking and then packaging it for later use. I would have avoided a sodium overload on my poor body too!
Trying new things can be a very positive experience, but failing to read the labels entirely can surely lead to disappointment, especially if you have any dietary requirements. Most Americans are (or should be) on a low-sodium diet because of the relationship between age, hypertension and sodium, yet food companies typically use incredibly high quantities of sodium in preparing food. That requires shopper’s vigilance, or you’ll be wondering why you feel terrible after eating.
Diligent efforts to reduce your sodium intake can be tough at first, but after your palate adjusts, high sodium foods start tasting…incredibly salty. I basically grew up on a low sodium diet, but even so, as age has begun to take its toll, I’ve had to become more diligent about ensuring I avoid the sodium with every dish at every meal. You can’t cheat when your body can’t cope with that salt, it tells on you where you can’t ignore it. To cope with the initial blandness of certain foods, herbs and spices become essential, and here too, reading labels is critical. Many blends are high in salt content, which means you actually get less for your money, as the spices and herbs are blended with cheap salt. Avoid these salt laden blends, choosing salt free versions instead. You get more flavor for your money, and your heart will be happy too. In my case, I learned…boneless turkey breast roasts are expensive, not only in money but in sodium content.