Thanksgiving Pantry Essentials: A Plan-Ahead Shopping Guide

Sautéing Garlic and Onions

Shopping at the supermarket in the few days before Thanksgiving can be as trying (and dangerous) as hitting the outlets on Black Friday. Here's a tip: minimize your time spent fighting rabid shoppers over the last carrots by doing the bulk of your shopping a week in advance. You'll find that almost all of the items you'll need to prepare your meal will store very nicely. Here are some of the things I like to keep on hand.

Dairy

Cut one pound

Dry Goods

Apple Pie or Plum Tart

Keep dry goods in a dark, cool cabinet for maximum storage. Dry goods high in oil like whole wheat flour or nuts should be kept in the freezer if you plan on keeping them for more than a few weeks. And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not store your oils above or near your stove. Heat will cause them to turn rancid very quickly. Keep them far form a heat source in a cool, dark space.

  • All-purpose flour for all of Easy Pie Dough (of course, you can always go store-bought. Check out our taste test here.)
  • Baking powder and baking soda.
  • Granulated sugar.
  • Brown sugar.
  • Corn syrup. You can't make a great pecan pie without corn syrup.
  • Pecans. Know what else you can't make a great pecan pie without?
  • Confectioner's sugar to make icing sugar for your pumpkin swirl buns, and to help make everything look nice and pretty.
  • Graham crackers for an easy pie crust alternative!
  • Canned pumpkin to make that perfect pumpkin pie. (And check out our taste test to see why you should really make your pie filling from scratch!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper—and we're talking real black pepper here. Please grind it fresh. That powdered stuff is good for one purpose only: giving your food little black specks without altering its flavor at all.
  • Olive oil for all of your salad dressings.
  • Marmite, soy sauce, and fish sauce, for enhancing the flavor of my gravy
  • A neutral oil like canola, vegetable, or rapeseed, for high heat sautéeing.
  • Nuts can be stored in the freezer for months. Use them in salads, to garnish soup, or to make snacks.

Long-lasting Fresh Goods

Potatoes, Heirloom Organics

Some vegetables and even some meats will last over a week in the refrigerator. Stock up on them early to save time and headaches with last minute shopping.

What else do you guys keep in your pantry to save time on the big day?

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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