Must-Have Shopping List for Thanksgiving

Big holidays like Thanksgiving can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time playing host or hostess. Beyond actually cooking the meal, there’s the pressure to make sure the house is clean enough. There are often questions like is there enough seating for everyone, will my mother-in-law be impressed or will she find fault with everything?

A big part of reducing that stress of Thanksgiving is to plan early and plan well.

In my house this means menu planning as soon as the guest list is pinned down. When menu planning for Thanksgiving I start with three lists, my dream Thanksgiving dinner, the Thanksgiving dinner my company expects, and I compromise between the two to make the final plan.  If you would like, I created a Thanksgiving menu plan printable.

Once your menu has been assembled, gather your recipes and your guest list. Use the following guidelines to work with your recipes (some may need to be doubled or tripled, if you are feeding a crowd) to plan your Thanksgiving Shopping List.

Serving estimates for holiday meals:

Whole Butterball Turkey* – 1 to 11/2 lbs. turkey for each guest up to a 14lb bird. Anything larger, estimate 3/4lb per person. (The skeleton of the turkey weighs less proportionally in large birds).

Stove Top Stuffing Mix – 3/4 cup per guest

Heinz HomeStyle Gravy – 1/3 cup per person; go 2/3rds cup per for buffet style

Mashed potatoes – 1lb of potatoes for every 2 guests. If you are serving two kinds (roasted and mashed) estimate 1lb for every 3 to 4 guests

Cranberry relish / sauce – 1lb of berries for every 5 people

Vegetables, including sweet potatoes – 1/2 cup per person of each type

Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls – 2 per guest minimum

Rice – 1/2 cup per person

Dessert – 1 to 2 servings per guest

Don’t stop now, your Thanksgiving shopping list contains more than just the ingredients for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Do not forget the Reynolds Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil; tenting your turkey 2/3 through the cooking process is not the time to deal with flimsy foil that shreds if you glance at it cross-eyed.  You’ll also need the foil to cover the turkey as it rests before carving.

If you will truss your turkey, you’ll need cooking twine. However, Butterball makes it easy as their turkeys have their legs naturally tucked.

Are you considering frying a turkey?  Then Masterbuilt has a Butterball Electric Indoor Turkey Fryer.

Are you serving wine with your meal? There’s a handy free app, Drink-U-Lator for iPhone and Android that helps hosts calculate the amount of wine based on the number of drinking-age guests. The estimation is based on tried and true catering standards and has been reduced by a slight amount to help hosts feel assured they are being responsible with the amount of alcohol provided. If you’re not sure of which wines to provide for your guests, Butterball is a big fan of the Cavit Wine Collection.

Do you have enough serving-ware for your meal? How about large spoons, both slotted and not?

Do you have enough storage-ware for your leftovers?

If you are hosting a large crowd and do not have enough place settings, rental companies often have these available. This is significantly cheaper alternative to buying dishes, flatware, and glassware that will have to be stored the rest of the year.

Napkins, paper towels, and bar towels (these are sold in bundles are work as a great supplement to your regular cotton kitchen towels) will be needed in abundance. To prevent cross-contamination, especially when cooking for company (you don’t want to be the one to land great-aunt Matilda in the ER, do you?) be sure to deposit any towel that has come in contact with raw poultry or meat immediately in either the laundry or trash, as appropriate.

Last but not least, don’t forget the ice. If you do not have a lot of extra room in your refrigerator, a large cooler can help reduce the strain.

Make your list, check it twice, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.



  1. Janet
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cranberry relish / sauce – 1lb of berries for every 5 people? Wow! That’s a lot of berries. I bet that relish/sauce tastes delicious.

  2. Gwendolyn
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    With my grandfather we need 10 rolls just for him. He loves bread and eats it with every meal. I’m still amazed how he stayed so thin all of his life!

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