The Food-Safe Path to Thanksgiving and Beyond
Hosting Thanksgiving can be a logistical challenge that starts with planning what to cook and ends with figuring out what to do with all of those leftovers. This year, streamline your Thanksgiving planning to ensure you have a fun and food-safe holiday.
- Saturday, November 5th: Plan your menu and make your grocery list. To save time, money, and hassle, break up your grocery list into perishable and non-perishable categories. You can purchase non-perishable food such as bread crumbs and canned broths and soups well in advance of your Thanksgiving meal.
- Sunday, November 6th: Shop for your non-perishable items. Use the FoodKeeper app to find out the best way to store your groceries until you need them for your Thanksgiving feast.
- Saturday, November 12th: Check your kitchen tools to make sure you have everything you need to make your Thanksgiving food safe. To make sure your turkey is fully cooked, you need an oven-safe meat thermometer. Having multiple cutting boards ensures you don’t cross contaminate your dishes that don’t need to be cooked with bacteria from raw meat or vegetables. Learn more about food safety kitchen tools.
- Wednesday, November 16th: Is your frozen turkey 20-24 pounds? If you are defrosting it in the refrigerator, today is the day to place that bird in the fridge. If your turkey weighs less than 20 pounds, use our resources to find out when your turkey should go from freezer to fridge.
- Monday, November 21st: You can start making side dishes today. Stored in the refrigerator, they still will be good Thanksgiving Day.
- Tuesday, November 22nd: Today is the day to purchase that fresh turkey. When you are purchasing your turkey, plan for 1 pound per person to ensure there is enough turkey to go around.
- Wednesday, November 23rd: If you haven’t started to defrost your turkey, use the cold running water method to ensure it’s thawed for Thanksgiving. It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.
- Turkey cooking guidance: You cannot tell if a turkey is done just by the color. Your bird is not safe until it reaches 165° F. Check the temperature in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh. Don’t forget to check the temperature of the stuffing, too! Take the turkey out of the oven and let it stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.
- Thanksgiving Day! Thursday, November 24th: Don’t forget the 2-Hour Rule. Be sure to place all perishable food in a shallow container and put it in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying.
- Monday, November 28th: Today is the last day to eat those leftovers or put them in the freezer.