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How to Know How Much Food to Make for Thanksgiving

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a chance to spend quality time sharing a meal with loved ones. You'll want to know how much food to make to keep everyone happy.


  • Step 1: Call your guests Call your guests and find out how many people are coming to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • TIP: Count maybes as yeses in case your maybes show up.
  • Step 2: Ask about food preferences Ask your guests about any dietary needs or food preferences they have. If a guest doesn't eat meat, then you don't have to count them in the number of guests eating turkey.
  • Step 3: Find out who is bringing what Find out if any guests are bringing food, how much, and what they are bringing. Use this to determine how much you need to make.
  • Step 4: Calculate it Calculate how much food to make based on the following portion sizes per person: 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of turkey, 1/3 cup of gravy, 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup of vegetable side dishes, 1/4 cup of cranberry dressing, 1/2 cup of stuffing, 2 dinner rolls, and 1/8 pie.
  • Step 5: Use a spreadsheet Organize the information you've gathered into a spreadsheet and add it up. There are spreadsheets available online that help you calculate how much food to make for Thanksgiving.
  • Step 6: Overestimate Overestimate how much food to make. Leftovers are often the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. It is better to have too much food than not enough.
  • FACT: There are three towns named "turkey" in the U.S.: Turkey, Texas; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey, North Carolina.

You Will Need

  • Guest list
  • Knowledge of portion sizes
  • Spreadsheet
  • Internet access

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