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A column by Jim ALGIE

I remember my mother saying the best thing about roasting a big, festive turkey was the next day’s grilled sandwiches.
She was thinking about leftovers and how the labour of a big feast provides through the days that follow without much additional work. My mother’s grilled turkey sandwiches require mayonnaise and cranberry sauce on the bread and, of course, butter in the frying pan. It’s a delicious way to eat leftover turkey with a little mashed potato, rutabaga and gravy on the side. But such a supper also provides a lot of dietary fat which is something I’ve tried to avoid lately.
It’s silly to talk in the same breath about fat reduction and feasting. Even so, that’s why I have passed so far on the grilled sandwiches as a way to manage the remains of this year’s 16-pound Thanksgiving turkey.
Such a large volume of food on one carcass at one time can be a bit overwhelming and not just because of volume. I spent about $56 this year for a fresh bird at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market.
Hot from the oven, we fed the five people at our Thanksgiving table. So that’s $11.20 per person for turkey alone.
Then we ate turkey leftovers the next day. We sent a packet of turkey meat home with the kids; put one in the fridge and another in the freezer along with the picked-over carcass.
So these segregated packets provide food for another 12 (or-so) individual meals. That spreads the initial cost over 17 individual servings and brings the cost per serving of 16 pounds of wonderful turkey meat to about $3.23.
As an alternative to grilling sandwiches, this year, some of the fresh meat went into an improvised chilli. That started with sautéed onions, a can of kidney beans, a can of tomatoes and a pile of left over vegetables from Thanksgiving, including kale, a cup of lettuce salad, the turkey, some gravy, chilli powder and other seasonings. That was good for a couple of lunches and suppers.
In addition to distributing the cost of my original investment in turkey, this style of Thanksgiving follow-up resolves the perennial, household question: What will we eat tonight?
I got to making stock on about the fifth day after Thanksgiving dinner.  So bulky and awkward were the frozen turkey remains they wouldn’t fit any of my stove-top pots. I stuck them back into the original roasting pan and put it in the oven with about eight cups of water to begin.
As the smell of roasted turkey returned to the house and the carcass began to soften, I transferred the bones to a pot on the stove and picked off even more meat. As I write, I’m still eating the resulting soup filled out with added fresh carrots and potatoes.
By now, the original investment in turkey has diminished even further. We’ve eaten at least six servings of a hearty soup with bread, a nourishing and sufficient meal, particularly in the weeks after Thanksgiving.
What I’m working around to say about all this is that the large dollar effort of a festive meal prepared from scratch has a practical side. We’ve eaten for two weeks from that bird and there’s still a two-pound packet of meat in the freezer. By the time it’s all gone the cost per serving of our Thanksgiving turkey comes in well below a dollar.
So much of our North American diet comes as packaged, prepared meals. A 2010 Canadian Medical Association policy paper on Food, Nutrition and Natural Health Products warned that “the proliferation of packaged, prepared foods and fast foods in Canadian society has contributed to excess amounts of salt, sugar, saturated and transfats and calories in our diet.”
The paper links that prepared food diet with illness citing particularly obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, liver disease and some cancers.
Mother was right. The thing about a big roasted feast is the fresh food eating that follows.