Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: November 8

Heather says:

Let’s make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ve found the dining room table, made a guest list (and invited them, right?), we have a soft menu plan, and if you’ve never even roasted a chicken that’s on the to-do list, right? Also, if you’re anything like me, you may need to put away all the stuff that has already found its way to that recently cleared table.

Ok, today grab a pen and paper start figuring out the final menu. To do this, you need to know how many people are dining and a rough idea of their usual appetite. The list below accounts for average people. If you are serving teenagers or relatives you already know are greedy increase the estimates. I increase the dessert estimate just because it’s a holiday for Pete’s sake. These estimates work best for a formal meal where everyone sits down and eventually people get tired of passing items. If you’re serving buffet style, definitely increase the gravy.

  • Whole turkey* – 1lb 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).
  • Bone-in turkey breast – 2/3 lb per person
  • Boneless turkey breast – 1/2 lb per person
  • Dressing – 3/4 cup per guest
  • Gravy – 1/3 cup per person
  • Mashed potatoes – 1lb of potatoes for every 3 guests
  • If serving two kinds (roasted and mashed) estimate 1lb for every 4 guests
  • Cranberry relish / sauce – 1lb of berries for every 5 people
  • Vegetables, including sweet potates – 1/2 cup per person of each type
  • Dessert – 1 – 2 servings per guest

Some of the very dedicated choose to serve both turkey and ham. In that case estimate one pound of ham for every four or five people and 3/4 lb of turkey.

*If you love leftovers, as I do, increase your turkey estimate by 50%.

I’d also love to hear from those of you with a lot of experience serving large holiday meals. Do you think these estimates are on target? If not, let me know.

Also, Bobbie brought up an interesting point, what many of us refer to as dressing or stuffing is called filling in Pennsylvania. Have I now covered all the terms for this side item? It’s hard work appropriately tagging recipes when no one knows what everyone else calls them.

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend. The Sunday confessional will be back next week -I took it easy this weekend, but I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.



10 Comments

  1. Jenna on November 10, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Hi! I'm so enamored of what you're doing here with the countdown that I posted a link here on my blog: http://kungfoocinema.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksg… Hope you don't mind!

    • Heather on November 10, 2009 at 8:52 am

      Of course not, that’s a very nice compliment, thank you.

  2. knitaddict on November 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I think you're pretty spot on for your estimates…I just try to go by how many sides I'm making….whether I'm doing a turkey AND a ham…and besides, I LOVE leftover Thanksgiving grub! If I couldn't make my leftover Thanksgiving/Christmas casserole, I'm pretty sure that my husband would start throwing things around the kitchen. :O LOL

  3. @JaxCC on November 9, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I am often invited to a particular friend's house to share Thanksgiving with her family. Their rule for mashed potatoes is 1 lb per person, because no matter what there are never enough. From what I've seen, that rule works well for them (and me!) 🙂

  4. Liz on November 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for mentioning adding extra portions for teens and relatives who are "greedy". Well said!

    • HeatherSolos on November 9, 2009 at 5:26 pm

      We've all known the type. Since it's a holiday and sometimes it's just easier to plan ahead for those kind of moments rather than getting worked up.

  5. Milehimama on November 9, 2009 at 5:25 am

    oops, forgot to mention, we use 5# of potatoes for a regular weeknight meal with mashed potatoes, for 2 adults and 7 children age 2-11. We love them taters! I'd have a riot if I only made 3# of potatoes (1 per 3 people), especially at a holiday meal that my family considers to be the Gravy Meal.

  6. Milehimama on November 9, 2009 at 5:23 am

    I think you're off on the ham servings, esp. if it's a bone in ham. I cook ham all the time for my family of 10 (ok, the baby doesn't eat it.) At our house, 10# shank ham (bone in) will make one ham meal + one leftover meal using ham (i.e., scalloped potatoes, ham mac n cheese, sandwiches, whatever). So, if you want leftovers, estimate 1# per person if that's all your serving, and perhaps halve that if you have a turkey too. At any rate, I wouldn't go lower than 1# bone in ham per 3 people (assuming you want leftovers, and assuming that your guests like ham. And if they don't like ham – what are you serving it for?)

    • Caroline on November 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm

      I don't like ham… but yet my mom serves it on Easter every year and always acts surprised when I don't take any. I compensate by eating have the macaroni & cheese. Ham is one of those foods I don't like but will eat if I have too – like if I'm a guest in someones house. Salmon is another food like that.

      • Zaiya on May 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

        Wow, that’s a really clever way of tihinkng about it!

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