We've all been there. The roast is in the oven, you've got your sister peeling Brussels sprouts, you're keeping an eye on the dog to make sure it isn't grabbing a sneaky taste of the pies cooling in the hallway, your stuffing is getting packed into its casserole dish and—f*&k me, did I really just run out of kosher salt? I'm not going to say there's nothing worse than having to run out to the store in the middle of a marathon cooking session, but like root canals and bicyclists while driving, it's the kind of thing that's just best avoided.
Here's a quick check list of all the non-perishable goods you should have on hand to make sure that your Thanksgiving goes off without a hitch. To make it easier for you, we've made a super simple checklist that you can print out.
In the Fridge
All of these items can be stored in the refrigerator at least three weeks in advance.
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.
- The turkey! A frozen bird will last for months (just remember to give it a few days to defrost in the fridge), and even a fresh bird, if packaged in a sealed airtight bag, will last for several weeks. Check the expiration date on the bag when purchasing, and take a look at our guide to buying turkey.
- Sage sausage for your Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing.
- Bread for that same stuffing. We recommenced high quality white sandwich bread or challah for the tastiest stuffing.
- Hearty herbs like thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves.
- Celery kept in its plastic bag in the fridge.
- Brussels sprouts stored in a loose plastic bag in the fridge.
- Fresh cranberries will last for several weeks in the fridge. We have several cranberry sauce recipes for you to choose from here, or if you'd like to go store-bought, Ocean Spray is our favorite jellied sauce and Trader Joe's carries the winner of our store-bought cranberry sauce taste test.
- Beets, if you are the kind of person who likes beets. If you think you are not, then you should really try this salad and get back to us. We'll wait.
- Eggs for your pumpkin pie and stuffing (not to mention your day-after hash!).
- Unsalted butter for making pies, cooking the roux for your gravy, greasing casseroles, and stirring copiously into your mashed potatoes. This is one of the ingredients that you should always have more of than you think you'll possibly need.
- Heavy cream for your homemade green bean casserole, your over-the-top creamed Brussels sprouts, and this crisp-and-creamy hasselback potato gratin.
- Bourbon, because it's always nice to slip it in somewhere it doesn't belong.
- Bacon for your bacon-braised green beans or your seared brussels sprouts with bacon (and of course for the day-after turkey clubs).
In the Freezer
- Nuts can be stored in the freezer for months. Use them in salads like this warm Brussels sprouts salad with bacon and hazelnuts, to garnish soup, or to make snacks.
- Frozen puff pastry is a great shortcut to easy appetizers and hors d'oeuvres like these caramelized onion and goat cheese tartlets.
- Bay leaves for flavoring your stock and gravy.
- Frozen pearl onions compared favorably to fresh in our frozen vs. fresh pearl onion taste test. We'd recommend them in any of our pearl onion recipes.
Keep dry goods in a dark, cool cabinet for maximum storage 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.
Jarred and Canned
- All-purpose flour for all of your baking needs, like this Easy Pie Dough (of course, you can always go store-bought. Trader Joe's is the winner of our taste test.)
- Baking powder and baking soda.
- Granulated sugar.
- Brown sugar.
- Corn syrup or maple syrup. The secret to great pecan pie or great mashed sweet potatoes.
- 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 fresh vs. canned pumpkin taste test to see why you should really make your pie filling from scratch!)
- Chicken stock is a thanksgiving staple essential for gravy, stuffing, and other dishes. You can make it yourself, or if you'd prefer, buy the low-sodium stuff from the store. Swanson's Chicken Cooking Stock was the winner of our taste test.
- 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 your gravy.
- A neutral oil like canola, vegetable, or rapeseed, for high heat sautéeing.
- Onions and alliums of all kinds. Keep yellow onions and garlic around for cooking with, smaller cippolini or pearl onions for cooking and serving whole, and shallots for flavoring dishes, like in this roasted Brussels sprouts recipe.
- Potatoes will last for several weeks in a cool, dark place. Check some of our favorite potato side dishes.
- Sweet potatoes and squashes are great candidates for long-term storage. Here are some things to do with 'em!
- Golden Delicious Apples for that Perfect Apple Pie. Check out our taste test of common apple varieties to see why we prefer Golden Delicious.
- Jarred or powdered gravy, if you don't want to make your own. Heinz is our recommended jarred gravy brand, while Knorr is our recommendation for powdered.
- Instant mashed potatoes can be perfectly fine so long as you add enough cream and butter to them. Betty Crocker Yukon Gold and Whole Foods 365 Brand Original Instant Mashed Potatoes won our taste test.
- Stovetop Stuffing is great comfort food for people who were raised on it. Stovetop and Pepperidge Farm won our taste test.
- Frozen Apple Pies can be a little gooey and sweet, but Marie Callenders and Vermont Mystic came out on top of our taste test.
- Extra rolls of paper towels, because you never know when that mess is gonna strike.
- Heavy duty aluminum foil for lining your roasting pans, making for easy clean up.
- Parchment paper to keep your roast vegetables from sticking.
- Storage containers to make sure that everyone takes some home at the end of the night. I like to use these plastic deli containers. They stack, nest, and are dirt cheap.
- Plastic wrap for wrapping up the extra turkey and casseroles.
- Dishwashing liquid.
- Trash, recycling, and compost bags.
The Produce Aisle
Some produce is better kept at room temperature.
If You Wanna Cheat a Little
Thanksgiving is busy. We get it. Ain't nothing wrong with using some store-bought help if saves your your sanity.
I feel like this list expands every single year, and I still manage to find something I left out (usually by running out of it on Thanksgiving). To make it easier for you, we've made a simple checklist that you can print out.