If you're hosting Thanksgiving, you should be worrying about how you're going to fit all those people around the table, how to make pie crust and what time dinner will be ready - not how you're going to afford everything.

Thankfully, there are ways to carve extra bucks out of the budget to keep your wallet stuffed.

Chef Mary Ann Brody, a Tucson personal chef and event caterer, recommends frozen turkey to save money.

"I know people stress about whether they should buy fresh or frozen turkey, but frankly, there is nothing wrong with frozen. It doesn't mean you're compromising flavor."

She said it is by far the cheapest route to go and "if you're shopping on a budget, you shouldn't feel guilty about buying a frozen turkey."

Think about your priorities. What are your family's absolute favorite parts of the meal? Just make those and skip the stuff nobody would miss.

Think about how much food you are making. With turkey and four or five sides, you don't need to make a huge amount of each dish.

Potluck-style meals are a great way to save money and share the day with family and friends.

This year, my husband and I are hosting a friends Thanksgiving. We will make the turkey, and our friends are bringing side dishes or desserts.

It's so easy to get caught up in everything and to stress about money and giving your family a good day.

But, seriously, it's about being together and being thankful for what and who you have in your life (Love you, Clint and Noah!).

The rest is gravy.

Turkey tamales recipe

Makes four dozen.

Tamal masa (dough):

• 5 pounds fresh, plain masa

• 1 1/4 pounds of shortening

• 1 quart warm broth from turkey or chicken or beef stock

• Salt

• 4 dozen corn husks


1. Soak corn husks in hot water until pliable. Remove silks and drain.

2. Melt shortening in large pan or pot until liquified.

3. Gradually add in masa and broth to shortening.

4. Beat with hand blender for about 10 minutes.

To check if dough is the right consistency drop a small chunk of masa in a glass of water and see if it floats. If it doesn't, blend longer. Dough should be easy to spread on corn husks.

5. Add salt to taste.


• About 3 pounds of cooked, shredded turkey leftovers

• 1 large can of whole jalapeño peppers

• 1 bag of carrots, peeled

• 4-5 russet potatoes, peeled


1. Slice jalapeños, carrots and potatoes into thin strips length-wise.

2. Spread dough in center of corn husk.

3. Add turkey and vegetables to center of dough.

4. Roll corn husk and tie at both ends with a strip of corn husk.

5. Steam tamales for one hour.


Here are some of the deals this week:

• Safeway: Spend $100, get an 8- to 16-lb. frozen Safeway turkey free. Spend $150, get up to a 22-lb. frozen Safeway turkey free. Spend $50, get a 10- to 24-lb. Butterball Turkey for 99 cents a pound.

• Fry's: 10- to 20-lb. Kroger frozen turkey, 79 cents a pound with VIP card.

• Bashas': 10- to 24-lb Norbest Turkey, 79 cents a pound with thank you card.

• Albertsons: Guarantees to match the price on Honeysuckle White Turkey (Grade A frozen) to the lowest advertised price offered by Fry's, Safeway or Bashas'.

• Sprouts: $1.49 a pound for fresh, free-range turkeys.


Get store brand stuff. Most things are just as good and cost a lot less.

Host a Thanksgiving potluck to share costs.

Stock up on nonperishable staples throughout the year, so you don't have to buy everything at once.

Shop with your friends and split things like bags of potatoes, flour and butter.

Chef Mary Ann Brody says you need about half a pound of turkey per person. A 12-pound turkey would feed about six adults.

If you have a small family, get a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.

Don't go crazy on décor. A bouquet from the grocery store, separated into mini arrangements in drinking glasses or jars, can be very pretty.

Sprinkle artificial fall leaves from the dollar store down the center of the table for a festive look.

Don't waste it

Here are a few things you can do with all of those tasty leftovers:

Boil the carcass to make stock, which can be used for soups.

Chef Mary Ann Brody likes to make pie using leftover potatoes, turkey and gravy - just toss in frozen veggies.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Veronica Cruz said her grandma makes turkey tamales and freezes them for Christmas (find her recipe, below).

Reporter Becky Pallack said her family uses left-over mashed potatoes to make rolled potato tacos.

Turkey salad sandwiches, turkey chile, turkey quesadillas.

Find recipes online at:

Pre-made Dinners

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of cooking, the grocery stores offer premade meals, including a turkey, for a pretty good price.

• Bashas': Deluxe Traditional Butterball Turkey Dinner, serves 6-8 people for $47.99.

• Safeway: Turkey Dinner, serves 6-8, $44.99.

• Fry's: Express Turkey Dinner, serves 6-8, $44.99.

• Albertsons: Traditional Turkey Dinner, serves 6-8, $44.99.

ABOUT THIS FEATURE Star reporter Angela Pittenger became a "centsible mom" the hard way. She and her husband, Clint, were both laid off from their jobs for part of 2011. They went without health insurance for several months, which was terrifying, Angela remembers, since Clint has diabetes, and their son, Noah, was only 4 at the time. The Star rehired Angela about a year ago. Her husband is a mobile DJ at events such as weddings and Angela sometimes takes the photos; she's also an artist on the side. But there are many slow months in Tucson for such work. In this occasional column, Angela will share tips, ideas and news about how Tucson consumers can find value and stretch their budgets. She lives those goals every day herself. Send suggestions, ideas or questions to her at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137. Submitted by: Frances Lopez