Beth R. | Nov 09, 2017 | 0 Comments
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Thanksgiving By the Numbers

Whether you are a first-time host or seasoned hostess, knowing how much food to prepare for you hungry guests will help you plan the perfect Thanksgiving menu and get stress out of your kitchen!

You may be planning to host your first ever Thanksgiving and have no idea where to start.  Take a seat and grab a glass of wine (or beer, or maybe you're on to the hard stuff - no judging) and check our tips for the best Thanksgiving yet!  Starting with your menu.  Are you making the whole meal or just a dish or two?  You will want to choose all of your recipes now so you can work out a menu and start building your shopping list.  Our Thanksgiving Timeline starts one week out from Thanksgiving and takes you step-by-step to T-Day.  Cooking day is not the time to test a new recipe.  If you are wanting to try out a new vegetable dish, practice it now.  That will give you time to adjust or scrap altogether if it is a bust.

We are big fans of prepping ahead.  There are lots of traditional thanksgiving dishes that can be made ahead, pie crust, mashed potatoes, stock, dinner rolls whatever freezes or can keep in the fridge for a few days - make it now.  Think about dicing onions and mincing garlic to save that valuable prep time.  Oh and don't forget to put the turkey in the fridge to thaw!  You need about one day for every 4 pounds to safely thaw your bird.  If you are planning to brine, wet or dry; allow time for that process as well.  Make room now, you're going to need extra space for that big 'ol bird!

So now that you have mastered your timeline, you need to start thinking about how much food your are going to need.  We did our homework and searched the web for food calculators.  We also have a handy printable version of this guide, click here to open.

Turkey
The main attraction for many is the bird, you will need 1 1/2 pounds of turkey for each person. Do your guests prefer white meat over dark?  If yes, consider roasting a smaller whole turkey along with a turkey breast so there is plenty of their favorite to go around.   This option can also allow you to try a couple of different preparations,  Fry the smaller breast and try spatchcocking the whole turkey (go to SeriousEats.com for full information on how to butterfly and cooking method or click here).  If you are feeding a large crowd, cook two smaller birds.  They will fit easily in your oven, cook faster and you'll less likely have dried out meat roasting smaller turkeys versus one monster bird.

Mashed Potatoes
You should figure on 1 large Yukon Gold potato per person which comes out to about 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes.  Although a quick poll in our office determined that was quite a small portion, so you might want to plan on a bit more, especially if that is your only starchy side.

Gravy & Cranberry Sauce
We grouped these two together because you'll need 1/3 cup of each sauce for each person.  Some people don't care for cranberry sauce, that's okay, more for those who love it!

Stuffing
Call it stuffing or dressing, stuff the turkey or not; each guest will eat around 3/4 cup of this side.  Stuffing tends to be one of those dishes that you only get to enjoy once a year; so you may think about making one extra pan so there is plenty.  At our gathering, we have two pans of dressing; one traditional and the other is oyster dressing.  We want to make sure there is plenty to put on the dinner roll along with a nice slice of cold turkey when round 2 comes around.  That's when everyone decides there is a little bit room to fill before the ride back home.

Vegetable Sides
You will need about 4 ounces of vegetables or for salads, 1 ounce of greens per guest.  Roasting vegetables is an easy way to offer veggies on your menu that are not in a casserole - who are we kidding, who doesn't love that creamy yumminess with those crunchy onions on top?  Root vegetables are perfect for roasting as well as acorn squash or how about a spinach or Brussels sprout gratin?  And speaking of sprouts, is it Brussels sprout or brussel sprout?

Dinner Rolls
An easy one to calculate, you'll need 1 1/2 rolls per person, the difficult part?  Deciding who you will share your half with...

Pie
Besides the bird, pies for some are what the day is all about.  One 9-inch pie should feed 6-8 people.  Of course it all depends on who cuts the slices.  If you are like me, a small sliver of Pumpkin Pie for tradition, but a whole slice of gooey Pecan Pie for satisfaction.  Like stuffing, you may only have these types  of pie on thanksgiving day so having an extra or two on hand isn't the worst decision you'll make this month.  Besides, pies freeze well, so you could enjoy them again in a couple of weeks!

Coffee or Tea
To go with their pie, you can count on 1 cup of coffee or tea person.  Best to have a pot brewed ahead to enjoy with dessert or later for a pick-me-up.  Coffee keeps warm in a thermal or insulated decanter, one more thing you can make ahead and check off your list!

Wine
Whether you serve red, white or both; plan on drinking guests to have 2 glasses per hour.  One bottle of vino should pour about 6 glasses (unless Aunt Vivian pours, then you might get 4 glasses).

Cheese
For those planning on having a snack before dinner, because you know someone will be early...2 oz of cheese per person along with cured meats and varietal crackers.  Make it simple on yourself and set out wedges about 30 minutes to an hour ahead, along with knives and spreaders so guests can help themselves.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your guests.  There will be a slip-up or two and no one will care.  it is about family and friends and gathering together telling each other what you are thankful for this year.

From our family to yours, have a wonderful holiday.

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