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Recipe Challenge: A Barracks-Style Thanksgiving Feast!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re bringing you another recipe challenge with a clear mission: preparing a Thanksgiving feast, barracks-style!

We know not all of our customers live in single-family homes with full kitchens, but even if you live in single servicemember housing with only a microwave for cooking, you can still make a delicious, nutritious Thanksgiving meal!

Recipe Challenge Guidelines

  1. We share either a meal solution from Thinking Outside The Box on the Healthy Living section of our website or another recipe that DeCA’s Dietitian has created.
  2. We challenge you to comment on the post to share your recipe or let us know how you would tweak this one to make it your own, while following the dietitian-approved nutritional parameters we provide.

This recipe challenge can be useful to everyone, not just those without access to a stove. That’s because anyone can use the microwave as part of their healthy eating pattern, not just for reheating or snacking.

In fact, we encourage you to use it in your food preparation at least two more times each week! It’s not only a good way to defrost and cook frozen food, but it can also reduce the amount of nutrients leached, because it cooks food more quickly.

Microwaved Turkey Meatballs and Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ½ cup bread crumbs or finely-crushed saltine crackers
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2-14 oz. can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¾ cup of nonfat milk
  • 1¼ cup instant mashed potatoes

Microwaved Turkey Meatballs and Potatoes


  1. Gently mix the ground turkey, bread crumbs, spices, ketchup and egg in a large mixing bowl with clean hands.
  2. Form the mixture into 16 meatballs and place them in a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Cover the meatballs with the mushroom soup and gently toss the meatballs so all are coated. Cover the dish and microwave on high for 7 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave and set aside. Leave it covered.
  4. Combine the milk, 1 cup of water and butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from the microwave and carefully remove the cover. Add the potato flecks and stir gently; fluff with a fork. Cover and let sit for an additional minute
  5. On each plate, dish out ¼ of the potatoes and top with 4 meatballs and a drizzle of the soup. Serve steamed broccoli or a small garden salad on the side.


Microwaves work by exciting the molecules in your food, which then generate heat. This process works effectively the same in all foods, including ground meat.

Many people avoid cooking raw meat in the microwave. There is something to this, but it shouldn’t stop you. Most microwaves can only penetrate about 1 cm into most foods, this is why you often get uneven heating. By adding a little water and a cover, you can use the steam to help it cook evenly.

As long as you cook your meat to its specific food-safe temperature, it’s a perfectly acceptable form of cooking, not just reheating.

Nutritional Parameters

  • Cook lean meat in the microwave, following the guidelines explained in the notes above
  • Pair your protein choice with instant mashed potatoes, microwave-steamed frozen vegetables and/or a small salad to enhance the nutritional content of your meal.

Ready… Set… Cook!

Please share your creation in the comments below, and feel free to include pictures of the final product or comment on the recipes that others share.

From all of us here at the Defense Commissary Agency, we wish you healthy cooking and a very happy early Thanksgiving!

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