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For many Oklahomans, the question of turkey, ham, both or neither for the holiday feast is settled by tradition and long before the oven is set to preheat. For those less bound by family customs, there are a number of considerations that can help guide meal planning.


Doing a little comparison shopping is a good place to start, said Darren Scott of the Oklahoma State University Robert. M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.


“Comparing prices may push shoppers toward turkey,” he said. “Fresh turkey generally is more expensive than frozen. However, there are deals to be had if you buy at the last minute, though bargains are more likely on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”


Shoppers also can compare alternatives on the basis of price per serving once they know the number of servings per pound.


“For example, if turkey is $1 per pound and you need 1 pound per person, the price per serving is $1,” Scott said. “By contrast, if ham is $2.50 per pound and 1 pound yields two servings, the cost per serving would be $1.25.”


Longstanding OSU Extension recommendations are to plan on 1 pound of raw turkey per person. This amount allows for extra helpings during the meal as well as accounts for some leftovers. If cooking time is a concern, precooked turkeys may only require reheating, while roasting a turkey can several hours, depending on the size and whether it is stuffed or unstuffed.


For ham, hosts can figure on a generous half pound per person since there will limited bone and waste. That should still provide enough leftovers for a second meal, Scott said.


A chart with cooking times for various types of hams is available at

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