Countdown to Turkey Day 2011: November 8 Creating the Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

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), we have made 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 back to that recently cleared table.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Ok, today we’re doing another pen and paper exercise.  Try to contain your excitement.

It’s time start figuring out the final Thanksgiving 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.

(You know who you are, quit acting innocent. I may be thin, but I can put away the food when I want to and on Thanksgiving? I want to.)

I increase the dessert estimate just because it’s a holiday for Pete’s sake. These estimates work best for a formal Thanksgiving meal where everyone sits down and eventually people get tired of passing items.

If you’re serving your Thanksgiving dinner buffet style, definitely increase the gravy. I don’t know what it is about a buffet that makes people go nuts on the gravy, but that’s life.

Serving estimates for holiday meals:
Mashed Potatoes 

  • 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 aka Stuffing aka Filling – 3/4 cup per guest, unless you serve the andouille sausage and shrimp cornbread dressing I’ll be posting today, then you might as well say 1 cup per.
  • Gravy – 1/3 cup per person go 2/3rds cup per for buffet style
  • Mashed potatoes – 1lb of potatoes for every 2 guests (Are you happy, I increased it from last year?)
    If you are serving two kinds (roasted and mashed) estimate 1lb for every 3 – 4 guests
  • Cranberry relish / sauce – 1lb of berries for every 5 people who actually like cranberry sauce.
  • Vegetables, including sweet potates – 1/2 cup per person of each type, unless you’re making the brussels sprouts with bacon recipe going up later this week, go ahead and call that a cup, too. People were giving each other dirty looks when that ran out.
  • Rolls – 2 per guest minimum
  • Rice – 1/2 cup per person
  • 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%.

Tell me, Home Eccers, what’s going on your Thanksgiving dinner menu?



1 Comment

  1. terramangum on November 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

    First, I love your blog–and this countdown is saving my life! I’m currently pregnant and due in 3 days. The countdown is giving me something to focus on and helping me pre-plan for Thanksgiving! We are diplomats in a foreign country and I plan to host a dinner for 8 (including my husband and myself!). So the menu: turkey, ham, yeast rolls, buttermilk biscuits, broccoli salad, watergate salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, squash casserole, sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, roasted brussel sprouts (if they are imported here) or a roasted vegetable salad, dressing and gravy. I don’t know about desserts yet. We don’t usually focus on dessert in my family because we have the potato casserole (also called potato pudding in my house) and the watergate salad which are sweet. I may ask guests to bring dessert. Especially since immediately following Thanksgiving I plan to start Christmas cookie baking for my husband’s office! But my husband loves cookies, so we will see.

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