Mojo Turkey: Thanksgiving on a Budget

November 24, 2015

Mojo Turkey

The joy of spending time with family and friends around the Thanksgiving dinner is my number one priority during the holidays.  Saving money and keeping a budget is number two.   After many years preparing for the big feast, I’ve compiled this handy list to follow for a stress-free feast that doesn’t break the bank.

Plan ahead: Now is the time to start organizing your Thanksgiving menu.  Write down a detailed shopping list and search for coupons and store specials in weekly circulars. Check your purse or wallet for unused store gift cards or prepaid with an old balance for you to use.  You’ll be surprised how much money they can save you at the time of checkout.

Check your pantry for ingredients you might already have on hand and avoid unnecessary purchases.

The turkey accounts for the majority of the dinner expense.  A great way to cut costs is by purchasing a store brand frozen turkey early and thaw in your refrigerator a few days before cooking.

Buy in bulk: Many pantry staples are on sale early November.  If you have space available in your kitchen, purchase non-perishable items in large quantities. Canned or frozen vegetables and stocks are usually on sale early on in the month.  Extras can be stored and incorporated in your meals all year long.

Buy in season:  Fresh produce tends to be lower in price when it’s in season. Plan for dishes that call for vibrant autumn flavors such as apples, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates, persimmons and yams and winter squash.  If you are not sure what is in season, ask your produce manager for recommendations.

Borrow: Need expensive tools or equipment?  Borrow from friends or neighbors who won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving in their homes.  They won’t need that turkey thermometer roasting pan or punch bowl if they are out of town.

Make it a potluck affair: Your guests might want to show-off their signature dishes too.  Why not organize a potluck Thanksgiving dinner and have invitees contribute side dishes, beverages and desserts while you focus on cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.

Keep it simple:  Most of the time, guests will be expecting traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Feature easy, make-ahead classic dishes with no-fail simple ingredients. Thanksgiving day is not the time to experiment with new recipes.  If you want to feature a new dish, practice ahead of time and avoid any waste in case the result is not what you expected.

Decorate with nature: Go for a long walk around your neighborhood or local park with your family and pick up some autumn decorations.  Bring the outdoors indoors and decorate your Thanksgiving table with autumn hued leaves, twigs, pinecones and acorns.

Get crafty and resourceful: Create your own place mats or napkin rings with inexpensive craft supplies.  Using butcher paper for table settings and twine to tie up silverware give your set-up a rustic feel. Clean up will be in a cinch.  Don’t purchase expensive vases and candle holders.  To give the room a celebratory ambiance, use old jars or mismatched glasses as tealight votives.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a fancy and expensive affair.  What’s important is creating memories surrounded by your loved ones while enjoying an evening of abundance with delicious food and blissful laughter: Something to be thankful for.

Mojo Turkey


  • 30 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Maggi bouillon chicken flavor
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 Tangerine DREYER’S or EDY’S OUTSHINE Fruit Bars, melted and sticks removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons crushed dried oregano
  • 1 (15 pounds) turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 large orange, cut into quarters
  • 1 large lime, cut into quarters
  • 1 medium onion, cut into squares


  1. Place garlic, bouillon and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until a paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in olive oil, melted Outshine bars, vinegar and oregano.
  2. Place turkey in a roasting pan.
  3. Separate turkey skin from the meat carefully with two fingers. Add rub between skin and meat. Any leftover rub can be poured over turkey, making sure it covers turkey evenly. Cover with foil; refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  4. Remove turkey from refrigerator 1 hour prior to roasting.
  5. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  6. Roast turkey covered, breast side down for the first 35 minutes. Carefully turn the turkey so breast side is up. Place orange, lime and onion in cavity.
  7. Decrease oven temperature to 350° F and cook for 3 ½ hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165° to 170° F.
  8. Remove from oven and let turkey rest for 30 minutes prior to carving.


Tip: If tangerine flavor Outshine Bars are not available, try this marinade with lemon, lime or pineapple flavored Outshine Bars.

Recipe developed for Nestle.

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