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Friday, December 13, 2013

Turkey or ham?

Now this is a turkey that I could eat leftovers from, day after day! It's gorgeous, isn't it? One pound of milk chocolate -- yum!

Do you remember the friend that I made English toffee with several weeks ago? Her sister-in-law is a local chocolatier, and sells these in November. This one was a hostess gift to us, on Thanksgiving. I wish we could keep it forever, but alas it HAS to be eaten. It would just go bad otherwise, right? Okay, I'll make the grand sacrifice. Someone pass me the hammer.

My question to you, do you do turkey, ham, beef or something else for Christmas dinner? I might have mentioned that I buy hams just before Christmas. They keep in the fridge, in their original packaging, for a few weeks, before needing to be cooked or frozen (check use by date on label). And in the next two weeks, our area supermarkets will feature them at their lowest price of the year.

In fact, 2 grocery store chains in my area have them this week for 99 cents per pound, for bone-in shank half ham, and bone-in whole hams. I was able to pick up 1 half ham and 1 whole ham (30 lbs total), at that price, the other day. This could be all the ham we'll want through early spring. But I'm still toying with the idea of 1 more half ham. I'll need to check the freezer space before making that decision. What do you think? Do you buy extra ham, to freeze? I'm on the fence.

Back to that chocolate turkey. I'm afraid no pardon for him -- his neck will be on the chopping block this weekend!


  1. The cheapest I've seen ham so far is 1.39/lb with $25 purchase. I'm not sure if I'm going to get one or not since ham is not my husband's favorite meat.

    When I go to my in-laws, they have all kinds of meat. One Thanksgiving, they had turkey, brisket, vension, and turducken for about 20 people. Maybe the Carnivores come by it naturally. :)

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I was surprised to see ham at 99 this year. Pork prices have been rising steadily over the past year, so much that I really thought the best price I would find is $1.29/lb.

      I find those, "spend $XX, and yoou get to BUY a ham/turkey for $XX" to be annoying. I get that grocery stores are just trying to keep folks from cherry-picking deals.

      I have never had turducken. Yes, it sounds like carnivore is in their blood!

  2. I'd rather have chocolate than any form of protein, but that isn't really your question, is it? ;)

    My hubby always buys an extra ham. We love ham--it goes well in many soups and casseroles and if I need a quick dinner, I can just reheat ham, throw in a couple of sides, and I'm done. We also buy extra turkey but everyone prefers ham over turkey.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I like that about ham, too. You can put together a really quick dinner, if the ham is sliced and ready to heat. I checked our freezer space, and it will be tight, but I think I can fit one more ham in.

      I'd rather have chocolate any day, over any kind of meat. But someone's got to be the grown-up and make us all eat healthy!

  3. I didn't know that you could keep uncooked hams in the freezer. How long can they keep frozen? Does it change their taste or texture?

    1. Hi Kath,
      Cured meats like ham don't keep as well in the freezer as uncured meats (like beef roasts, turkeys), with regards to quality, not safety. Their flavor seems to go off, to me after about 4-6 months. But if kept at a constant 0 degrees F (like in a stand-alone freezer), it will be safe to consume. This is from the USDA on freezer food safety:

      "Is Frozen Food Safe?
      Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness."

      But the texture remains the same, provided it was well-wrapped to protect against freezer burn.
      Hope this answers your questions.

  4. Wow, what a lovely hostess gift!

    I find that frozen hams get a bit saltier the longer they are in the freezer.
    As to the "buy another ham or not" question, would it be likely that hams would be on sale for a good price again around Easter? Alternatively, if you do buy another ham, could you cook it and cut it up to freeze in smaller portions that might be easier to fit in your freezer?

    1. Hi Jayne,
      Cooking and cutting it up is a good solution for the very limited in space freezer. I may have to do that. In past years, hams have been about 10 to 20 cents more per pound at Easter, than at Christmas. But I never know if that will be the same.

      Frozen turkeys are usually substantially less per pound at Thanksgiving than Christmas, here. This year at Thanksgiving, frozen turkeys seemed really expensive at around 69 cents per pound (on purchases with no restrictions). And usually Christmas turkeys are more per pound than Thanksgiving ones. However, I noticed that one grocery store had frozen turkeys on ad for 69 cents/lb now through Christmas -- the exact same price as this store had them at Thanksgiving.

      It feels more like the "grocery store gamble" this year, whether I'll find a better (or even same) deal on something in the future.

      Another thought about buying extra hams. A half ham doesn't go as far as a whole turkey. We usually get about 5-7 family meals from a half ham. So that makes buying that extra one seem like not a whole lot more meat for us to consume in the coming months.

      Thanks for your input here.

  5. I love that chocolate turkey! But I have the same problem of not wanting to spoil a work of art, even if it is in chocolate. Blessing to you and your family x


    1. Hi Lesley,
      It is a shame the chocolate turkey can't be preserved in some way. But he'll be enjoyed, nonetheless.
      Have a blessed Christmas!

  6. Your grocery prices are amazing. Ham was advertised at $1.49 per pound at my grocery store this past Saturday. I would love to find it at 99 c per pound.

    1. Hi smalltowngirl,
      Before living in Washington state, I lived in Utah, and before that in California. When we moved here to Washington, I thought grocery prices were incredibly high. But now I'm realizing that we do have some good prices here, and I'm indeed fortunate.

      I do hope one of your local markets has some good specials this next week for you.

  7. More on hams and turkeys --
    I went to QFC, a local supermarket chain, to buy one of their 99 cent/lb half hams. The use or freeze by date on this ham was in early February. So, I have almost 2 months to figure how I'm going to get it into the freezer. And in case you're counting, that brings us up to two half hams and one whole ham, or 40 lbs of ham.

    And also, while at QFC, frozen turkeys were 59 cents per pound. I'm thinking that there could be some deals on frozen turkeys.

  8. If we're at home, we either do ham or pork roast. (Do have relatives who do beef roast ... enjoy those invitations, LOL).
    I don't have the freezer space for an extra ham. When they go on sale, I'll buy a big one and take several slices off to freeze for later meals. The rest gets baked.

    1. Hi DW,
      That's good planning for a large ham, for leftovers, since you don't have spare freezer space. Sometimes, you just have to make the most of what's available.

  9. Growing up, we always had turkey for Christmas. Pretty much the whole same dinner as Thanksgiving. And I continued that the years we stayed home for quite some time. But now, with 5 kiddos, it was feeling like I spent much of Christmas in the kitchen, so we decided to simplify that. Last year, we had meat loaf, actually. It's a family favorite and I served it with the cheesy potatoes we all enjoy. It was able to be prepped ahead and baked while we played around with our gifts. This year, I did get hams for a good price (for here), $1.79 per lb, so I bought one possibly to have for Christmas and a second that I put in the freezer already. Might pick up one more if I find a better price than that in the next few weeks.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Growing up, we always had something different for Christmas, than Thanksgiving. So, it came as a surprise to me when I heard other people had turkey at Thanksgiving. But now, I've done a turkey a couple of times. We don't have a set "this is Christmas dinner" in our house. It changes from year to year, depending mostly on my energy. Some years, I'm wiped out by all the preparations for Christmas, that making a large dinner just sounds too draining.

      You'll appreciate that extra ham later this winter!

  10. I come from a huge extended family and we have ham, turkey and roast pork (and one year we did a whole lamb on a spit). I'm very excited about this Christmas because it will be the first one in 15 years that I will be eating the meat and not just the roast veggies.

    1. Hi Liz,
      Your comment made me laugh, as I could picture your excitement to be eating some of all the different meats! Oh, what a change holidays will be for you now!

  11. I was looking at my Kroger ad on Sunday and was surprised to see their ham deals this year: $1.49/lb with a $20 purchase and shank portions $1.19/lb I'm not excited at all.

    We were planning on having ham for Christmas dinner. I think I'll buy one for the dinner, but I'm not sure I'll buy one for the freezer this year.


    1. Hi Angie,
      I was surprised to find hams for 99 cents/ pound this year, as pork has risen steadily over the last 2 years. At one store it was the shank portion only, and I bought 1. But I also bought a whole ham at the same price, so I have both sides in that one. At the other store, it was either shank or rump, for 99 cents/lb. I just bought 1.

      Don't give up on stocking hams yet. What I have been finding with frozen turkeys is there are a lot of new sales, without any spending requirements. They weren't advertised in the flyer, but there in the store, a sign for frozen turkeys at 59 cents/lb in one store, and 69 cents/lb in another.

      My thinking, stores are "stuck" with leftover frozen turkey inventory that didn't sell at Thanksgiving. And now they're unloading them.

      I think the same may happen with ham, in some areas. You could see better prices later this winter, or near Easter in your area. Stores may have inventory that they need to unload.

      Do any of your stores carry whole hams? At the one store that had shank hams for 99 cents, they had the whole hams, too. You could call and ask the butcher dept if they have or can get whole hams, at the $1.19 price. Then you'd get the better half of the ham along with the shank, and have a lot of leftovers for the freezer.


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