When you picture Thanksgiving, what do you see?  Mashed potatoes, sure. Casseroles and something with cranberries in it that no one will eat, almost certainly. But the centerpiece is almost always a gleaming turkey, roasted to golden-brown perfection. Unfortunately, recent events may mean you’ll have to rethink your Thanksgiving meal. Turkey prices are expected to go up in the wake of the 2015 outbreak of avian flu, in which a whopping 7.5 million turkeys—3 percent of the U.S. population—were killed.

And if you’re not motivated by a hit to your wallet, there are other considerations as well. You may have a vegetarian or vegan in your family. Or maybe you’re just tired of the same old main dish.

Regardless of your specific situation, we have a few suggestions to solve those main course conundrums you might have this Thanksgiving.

Choose Roast Beef for an Economical Alternative to Turkey

Not only is roast beef a fairly economical cut of beef to purchase, it’s festive, and makes a great alternative to turkey. It will still complement most of the traditional Thanksgiving sides, and you won’t have to miss out on the gravy if you use the drippings. Try this recipe for a traditional roast with gravy that packs some punch, courtesy of horseradish.

Choose Ham for a Festive Alternative to Turkey

Another alternative that still looks festive is ham. The best part is, you can order them pre-cooked.  Reheat according to directions, and serve. Add a little something extra by glazing the ham while it reheats in the oven.  Bonus: leftovers, glorious leftovers!

Bacon for a Trending Alternative to Turkey

Now we have your attention. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, but it is bound to impress.  Two pounds of Italian sausage wrapped in two pounds of woven bacon sprinkled with barbeque seasoning and smoked to bacon-y perfection. After this, you might have to host Thanksgiving every year:

Just because you or someone you know chooses not to eat meat doesn’t mean you’re out of delicious options for Thanksgiving! Here are some turkey alternatives for the vegetarians in your life:

Choose Squash for a Vegetarian Alternative to Turkey

Not only is squash in season, but the wide variety of tastes and textures you can create from this humble vegetable makes it a perfect stand-in for many different dishes. Roast and shred spaghetti squash and use it in place of pasta; microwave a halved acorn squash until tender, and add brown sugar for a sweet treat. Or, add an Italian twist to a classic comfort food and try this butternut squash recipe.

Choose Pasta for a Comforting Alternative to Turkey

The possibilities are nearly endless! This time of year, comfort food is king, which means that childhood favorites like macaroni and cheese tend to be crowd-pleasers. Stuffed pasta shells make an impressive main dish, or spaghetti (minus those meatballs) is both filling and comforting on a chilly fall day. You could also elevate your basic pasta dish into something special with a hit of feta cheese (and a big dose of veggies!).

Choose Tofurkey® for a Turkey-Loving Vegetarian Alternative to Turkey

What’s a vegetarian who still misses turkey to do? Tofurkey® was created with you in mind. A ground blend of organic soy protein base, it mimics the taste and texture of turkey to help satisfy both cravings and dietary restrictions. The Tofurkey site has an extensive list of recipes; maybe you could try this one for your main dish substitute.

Whatever your preferences, or those of your guests, you don’t have to settle for the same old bird. No matter what you dish up this Thanksgiving, remember that it’s the thought that counts. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving from Farm Bureau Financial Services!


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