Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving Shopping List

Americans celebrate thanksgiving as a part of their tradition that continues from 1621 after the pilgrims celebrated the first thanksgiving dinner.

Hence, thanksgiving dinner is one of the most celebrated occasions globally. The dinner symbolizes a family feast comprising roasted turkey as the star, with stuffings, dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, and lastly, an apple or a pumpkin pie.

Hence we can safely say it will be a long Thanksgiving shopping list. But, lucky for you, this guide will assist you in making this year’s Thanksgiving shopping list.

What is a Basic Thanksgiving Dinner Menu?

The Thanksgiving dinner menu looks like this, starting from appetizers to a perfect ending at a dessert:

  • Appetizer – Spicy, sweet and salty nuts, crackers, and fruit.
  • Man Course – None other than the mighty turkey with turkey gravy
  • Sides – Spinach pomegranate salad, holiday dressing, roasted vegetables, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.
  • Drinks – Juice, apple cider, wipe, soda for the kids, and coffee.
  • Dessert – Cookies, Ice cream, Cake, Pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie.

Everything You Need on Thanksgiving Dinner List

A thanksgiving shopping list ensures all the necessary items are available in your pantry and refrigerator to save you from an eleventh-hour trip to the grocery store.

Once you make a thanksgiving shopping list, you can categorize the items. For instance, you can stock the pantry items, disposable plates, cutlery, and other decoration items a month before. However, you can buy meat and fresh produce one or two days before dinner.

This way, you can minimize the total number of trips to the grocery store.


  • All-purpose Flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Granulated and brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Corn syrup if you want to make pecan pie
  • Baking powder
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Spices, such as ground cinnamon and whole nutmeg
  • Pumpkin puree (canned)
  • Nuts and raisins
  • Chicken broth or stock
  • Marshmallows
  • Breadcrumbs


  • Large eggs
  • Butter (unsalted)
  • Heavy cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Whole milk
  • Cheese

Meat and Poultry

  • Turkey
  • Sausages for stuffing
  • Bacon

Fresh Produce

  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Oranges
  • Lemon
  • Apples
  • Cranberries


  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Beer
  • Sparkling water
  • Hard cider
  • Juice
  • Liquor including vodka, whiskey, and gin
  • Tea
  • Coffee


  • Roasting pan
  • Casserole dishes
  • Platters
  • Pie dishes
  • Carving set
  • Gravy boat
  • Sheet pans
  • Potato ricer


You can forget other things for the thanksgiving feast but never turkey. However, it’s essential to buy the turkey according to the total number of guests to minimize food waste.

For instance, you can allocate one pound per person to decide the total weight of the turkey. However, you can add an extra pound if you love to use leftover turkey to make sandwiches.

If you buy a frozen turkey from the market, you need at least a day to defrost it. Moreover, a 20 pounds turkey takes five days to thaw in the refrigerator. It means the turkey needs 12 hours to marinate if you use brine.

You should invest in buying a large roasting pan to accommodate the bird. Alternatively, you can always buy a disposable roasting pan.

Stock can make or break your main course. That’s why you can buy enough vegetables, turkey, or chicken stock to make gravy for the dry dressing.

It entirely depends on you to go for the stuffing or the dressing. As the name suggests, stuffing cooks inside the turkey while preparing the dressing separately and serving with the bird.

Based on the size, roasting an unstuffed turkey takes around two to four hours. Next, you can use the meat thermometer to check the bird’s temperature. Once you see 165F degrees for the breast meat and 170F to 175F degrees for the thickest part of the thigh, your turkey is done.

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Hosting a perfect thanksgiving feast is all about planning, organizing, and managing time.

Eight Weeks Before

It would help if you started planning at least eight weeks before the dinner. For instance, you can choose the time, location, theme, and color pallets at least two months before the dinner. Similarly, you can prepare a guest list and design the invites.

Six Weeks Before

You should send the invites at least six weeks before the dinner to buy the thanksgiving grocery items accordingly. Moreover, you can start the menu planning and check the current inventory for decorations, lights, tableware, cutlery, and other things you need.

Lastly, it’s essential to keep an eye on the sales and other deals to buy party supplies and other decorations.

Three Weeks Before

It would help if you chose the recipes you want to make at least three weeks before dinner. Here, your grocery list plays an essential role in allowing you to buy all the ingredients for the shortlisted recipes.

Similarly, you can divide the shopping list into different categories: Thanksgiving grocery items you can buy in advance versus fresh produce, which you should buy a day or two before dinner.

One Week Before

Moving on, you can clean the fridge and pantry at least a week before dinner. Now is the time to do grocery shopping for nonperishable items and start the food preparation. You should also do the final inventory checks and confirm the delivery of your online orders.

You can clean the serving ware, drinkware, dishes, and utensils a week before dinner. Lastly, you should be done with the deep cleaning of your house at least two days before dinner. Also, don’t forget to fold your laundry.

Two Days Before

Two days before dinner, you can make cranberry sauce and refrigerate it.

One Day Before

You should chop celery, onions, and other vegetables, wash the herbs and store them in the fridge a day before dinner.

You can also assemble as many ingredients as possible for the dessert and other sides. It’s essential to calculate the turkey roasting time to serve right from the oven on the dinner table.

Thanksgiving Day

Once you follow the above planning guide for hosting a Thanksgiving feast, all you need to do is to focus on preparing delicious turkey, sides, gravy, and dessert on Thanksgiving day morning.

What Should You Not Forget for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Your goal should be to have a stress-free holiday. We are so focused on making a perfect dinner that we tend to forget some essential thanksgiving items, including:

  • Turkey baster
  • Meat thermometer
  • Aluminum pans
  • Dinner rolls
  • Ice bags
  • Ziplock bags
  • Napkins
  • Paper plates and wooden cutlery
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Dish liquid
  • Toilet paper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Plastic wrap and aluminum foil
  • Toothpicks

Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping List for Guests

As a guest, it’s your sacred responsibility to make thanksgiving dinner easy and comfortable for the hosts. In addition to buying a bottle of champagne or wine, you can also consider purchasing any of the following items:

  • Ice cooler
  • Serving cutlery and utensils
  • Flowers or potpourri
  • Coasters
  • Scented candles
  • Board games to entertain kids
  • A breakfast basket contains bread, eggs, croissants, jam, butter, and cheese.

Furthermore, you can always make any side dish, yams, or dessert to facilitate your hosts.

Any Alternative to Turkey for Thanksgiving Meal?

Thanksgiving without turkey is like Marvel comics without superheroes. However, some of your guests may not like turkey, so you can always find some other alternatives to the big bird.

  • Lasagna – You can make a delicious vegetable lasagna full of green peppers, onions, and mushrooms with Italian sausages and ground beef.
  • Roasted Duck – Fattier than turkey, roasted duck with duck fat fries allows you to make a delicious and fulfilling dinner.
  • Chicken – You can make a juicy roasted chicken using your mom’s secret recipe.
  • Quiche – Preparing quiche gives you many filling options, such as loaded vegetables, spinach, asparagus and mushroom, and sausages.
  • Shepherd’s Pie – It’s a complete thanksgiving meal made with cream cheese, ground meat, peas, celery, carrots, onions, and mashed potatoes.
  • Stuffed Squash – The best thing about squash is you can stuff it with sausages, ground meat, and apples and roast it until it’s’ tender.
  • Ravioli – You can host an Italian-themed thanksgiving meal and serve Alfredo Ravioli, chicken, shrimps, or mushroom and spinach ravioli.
  • Ham – Whether it’s slow-cooked or honey-glazed, ham makes a perfect dinner for Easter, Christmas, and other occasions such as thanksgiving.
  • Pot Pie – You can make a fulfilling vegetable pot pie with mushrooms, onions, celery, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans.


Thanksgiving dinner is all about celebrating good food with your beloved family and friends.

That’s why the above guide will help you make an elaborate thanksgiving shopping list to save the money and time you spent making countless trips to the grocery store.

Furthermore, you can always start stocking items before November to distribute the shopping cost over a couple of months.

Happy Thanksgiving, guys!

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