Thanksgiving grocery list: Here's what you can stock your pantry and freezer with now

Given our unexpected times, you’ll want to think ahead when it comes to your Thanksgiving grocery list this year. Here's what you can buy this weekend

Thanksgiving table with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing
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Amid a global pandemic, it's safe to say holiday meal planning is going to look a little different this year. With potential lockdowns on the horizon, the last place you’ll want to be the day before Thanksgiving is the grocery store. Fortunately, a little foresight means you can knock out most of your Thanksgiving grocery list ahead of time by stocking up on pantry items and frozen foods.

Most Thanksgiving staples require shockingly few fresh ingredients. So what are you waiting for? Hit the grocery store now to knock out your holiday meal planning before the rush. Our comprehensive guide and simple-to-navigate shopping list makes preparation easy as (you know we can't help ourselves) pie. 

For more holiday ideas, check out how to brine a turkey and our favorite Thanksgiving table setting ideas.

Shelf-stable fresh produce

Holiday Meal Planning

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Just because you're planning early doesn't mean you need to rule out perishable items completely. Go ahead and get a bag of sweet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes (these are best for mashed) to keep in your pantry or cellar. In a cool, dark environment, they will last for months. 

The same goes for onions. Whole onions can last on the counter for four to six weeks. Go ahead and grab a bag of both red and yellow so you'll be stocked for an array of different recipes. Need to use some now? Cut onions can last in the fridge for up to 10 days. Pick up your choice of squash as well. Butternut and acorn squash, uncooked, can last for up to two months on your counter at room temperature. 

Celery and carrots are other hardy vegetables that can last for three to four weeks in the crisper drawer. Celery is one of those essential Thanksgiving flavors, so pick up a bag to store in the fridge. 

Shop now for: 

  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Bag of yellow onions
  • Bag of red onions
  • Butternut or acorn squash
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Dairy and refrigerator items

Holiday Meal Planning

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There are also an array of more "fresh" items that have a long lifespan if left unopened. For example, look at the "sell by" date for milk. So long as it's after Thanksgiving, pick up a quart. Once opened, milk can last for about a week past its sell by date. 

Butter and eggs also have a surprisingly long shelf life. You can also grab everything you need for a delicious, festive cheese board. Specialty cheeses and cured meats typically have a long lifespan (months or more) if kept unopened in the refrigerator. Grab some olives, nuts, and crackers to go along with it and you're armed with a crowd pleasing (even if it's a crowd of two or three) appetizer. 

Shop now for: 

  • Whole milk and heavy cream
  • Butter
  • Dozen eggs
  • Dinner rolls
  • Specialty cheeses
  • Cured meats and sausages

Freezer foods

Holiday Meal Planning

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We cannot emphasize it enough: Do not wait to buy that turkey. Demand for smaller turkeys has been incredibly high this year, so the little ones are going quick. Whatever size you buy, fresh or frozen, you can easily keep it in the freezer until Thanksgiving. Wrap it in a large bag, squeeze the air out, and put it in the freezer.

Then, it's best to defrost your bird in the refrigerator. It will need 24 hours per five pounds of meat. Depending on the size of your turkey, take it out the proper amount of time ahead of your meal. Once it defrosts, it will stay fresh for two more days in the fridge. 

Along with your turkey, the freezer aisle has a lot to offer for your Thanksgiving meal. Since we prepare many of our side dishes as yummy casseroles, you don't need fresh veggies. Grab frozen green beans for the green bean casserole and frozen spinach for creamed spinach. Corn for your casserole or creamed corn can be frozen or canned. 

Shop now for: 

  • Turkey, fresh or frozen, to be stored in freezer.
  • Frozen green beans for casseroles
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen pie crust

Pantry items and canned goods

Virtually everything else you will need can be found in the canned goods, pantry, and baking aisles. Hit up the baking aisle for evaporated milk, pre-made pie crust, sugar, flour, and spices. Make sure to have dried sage and parsley — essential Thanksgiving flavors. Walnuts, pecans, and other nuts are typically found in the baking aisle as well. 

For canned fruit and vegetables, get cranberry sauce, whole cranberries, canned pumpkin, and canned corn. French fried onions are also typically found in the canned vegetable aisle.

You'll also want to get a can of gravy, your choice of stock (chicken or vegetable), and cream of mushroom soup. Around this time of year, you'll see stuffing mix on every end cap, so don't forget to pick up a box. If you prefer to make your own, be sure to grab two to three loaves of bread. Keep them in the freezer and defrost overnight in the refrigerator before you're ready to cook. 

Shop now for: 

  • Evaporated milk
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Pie crust
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Spices (sage, parsley, garlic)
  • Walnuts or pecans
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Canned corn
  • French fried onions
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Gravy
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Stuffing mix

Want to see the whole list at once? We've compiled it all, below.

Shelf-stable fresh produce

  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Bag of yellow onions
  • Bag of red onions
  • Butternut or acorn squash
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Dairy & refrigerator items

  • Whole milk and heavy cream
  • Butter
  • Dozen eggs
  • Dinner rolls
  • Specialty cheeses
  • Cured meats and sausages

Frozen foods

  • Turkey, fresh or frozen, to be stored in freezer.
  • Frozen green beans for casseroles
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen pie crust

Pantry items and canned goods