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Thanksgiving Shopping Tricks and Tips

Thanksgiving is your biggest grocery trip of the year. So how do you make it as seamless as possible? Our helpful planning, shopping and storage tips will help you avoid that day-before-Thanksgiving panic.

Make a game plan.

Figure out what needs to happen when — like reserving the turkey, buying your groceries and prepping ingredients — to help make your shopping trip easy-breezy. Start planning with our Thanksgiving Timeline.

Take stock of what you have already.

Before you build your shopping list, comb through your pantry and fridge for ingredients you already have on hand. Keep an eye out for the staples you tend to stock year-round, like spices, vanilla extract, flours and sugar. Not only will you save time at the store not having to hunt down items you don’t actually need, but you’ll also save money in the long run.

Create a shopping list.

Building a shopping list ensures you don’t forget essential ingredients for your Thanksgiving dishes. Plus, it will also help get you in and out of ours stores more efficiently. Calculate exactly how much food to buy. Calculate the exact amount of turkey, potatoes and other ingredients you‘ll need to prevent you from buying too much and overspending. First, determine how many guests are attending, here’s our Guide to Servings.

Prep ahead for a shorter to do list, come Turkey Day. 

Streamline your Thanksgiving shopping by prepping and freezing ingredients for stuffing, casserole and even your turkey ahead of time. Not only does this mean a shorter shopping list, but it also reduces your chances of not being able to find key ingredients during your shopping trip. Know how to make on-the-fly swaps. If you do find yourself in the middle of your shopping trip and unable to find an item on your list, don’t fret. There is likely a substitute in our aisles that’s just fine.

Try these ideas:

  • Can’t find fresh thyme? Try rosemary.
  • No sour cream? Use Plain greek yogurt.
  • Out of walnuts? Try pecans.
  • No mesclun mix? Pick up a bag each of baby spinach, baby kale, and baby arugula, then mix together!

Store groceries properly.

Don't let food go bad! Follow these tips to get as much as possible from your groceries.

 Get organized.

Thanksgiving groceries, especially turkey, can require serious kitchen real estate. Organizing your refrigerator, pantry and countertops before you shop will guarantee that every item in your haul has its rightful storage spot.

  • Use the produce drawers. The humidity level in this often-overlooked space is actually different than the rest of your refrigerator, and it will help keep your green beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and salad greens crisp.
  • Handle greens with care. To keep your salad greens nice and crisp, don’t wash them in advance. Until you’re ready to use them, refrigerate in an open plastic bag and add a few paper towels to soak up any loose water.
  •  Butter is safe at room temperature. Butter will last longer in your refrigerator, but it can also be stored safely at room temperature for 1 – 2 days. If you’re baking recipes or serving rolls, having softened butter at the ready can be a game changer.
  • Some ingredients are happiest in the pantry. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic and winter squash do not need to be stored in your refrigerator. When stored in a cool, dark space like your pantry, these ingredients can last several weeks.
  • Buying a fresh turkey? Fresh turkeys are kept in a deep chill to maintain a crust of ice on the surface. This ensures that you can safely store your bird at home until you're ready to cook. Keep your turkey deep-chilled (35°F) in the coldest spot in your fridge, turned down as low as possible, or store in a secondary fridge. Over time, the ice will easily melt and your bird will be perfect by Thanksgiving. Freezer or fridge — and for how long?
  • To ensure your meal is as delicious as possible, it's helpful to know how long holiday favorites like green beans, apples and more can actually hang around in your fridge (or freezer). We have a four-day-rule in our house for leftovers, but check out the database of foods on the USDA Foodkeeper App— some may surprise you.

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