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Craft the Perfect Thanksgiving Shopping List: Popular Menu Ideas & Side Dishes

By Chris Zimmerman

October 31, 2023

Thanksgiving is quite possibly the greatest food day of the year. Families come together around tables filled with a delightful variety of seriously satisfying dishes. We’re here to help you plan for the big day and give you a printable Thanksgiving shopping list that won’t let you down. 

Let’s dig into these ideas inspired by Thanksgiving’s most popular foods. 

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"Your Perfect Thanksgiving Shopping List" written atop fall-themed display with leaves and gourds

First, let’s find you the perfect turkey

Cooked Thanksgiving turkey on platter surrounded by side dishes

When choosing the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving, choose the right size for your guest list: typically 1 pound per person. Opt for fresh or frozen, depending on your schedule. 

Check for a plump, moist and firm bird, with no excessive ice crystals if frozen. Consider organic or free-range options for enhanced flavor. Lastly, ensure it fits your budget and storage space, and remember to thaw it safely before cooking.

Pro-tip: For a safe thaw, refrigerate your turkey. It’ll take about a day for every 4-5 pounds of weight. A 12-pound turkey will take 3 days to thaw.

Four tasty turkey alternatives

Seasoned mushrooms and mushroom caps of different sizes

If turkey isn’t your jam, consider a brown sugar glazed ham. Brown sugar, whole grain mustard and a generous splash of brandy (plus some seasonings) make the perfect glaze. 

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option to be the star of your feast, try: 

  • Tofurkey: Tofu-based toast filled with stuffing, herbs and spices
  • Stuffed acorn squash: Baked squash halves with a savory stuffing
  • Portobello mushroom roast: Large mushrooms marinated and roasted

Classic Thanksgiving sides that steal the show

Green bean casserole in dish surrounded by other side dishes

Sides are what tie any great feast together. Here are some of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes that are sure to please your guests:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes: Russet potatoes, garlic, whole milk, butter and some salt/pepper to taste. A classically delicious side that’s as easy to make as it is to devour. 
  • Green bean casserole: Add some condensed cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onions to your shopping list to pull off this Thanksgiving classic. 
  • Stuffing: Store-bought stuffing mix can turn into a masterpiece when you add fresh ingredients like diced onions and celery. 
  • Cranberry sauce: Everyone has an opinion on cranberries. My family keeps it simple: fresh cranberries, sugar, orange juice + zest and a cinnamon stick. 
  • Gravy: If you’re roasting a turkey, turn those drippings into something extra delicious. Add flour, butter, broth and seasoning for a gravy that’ll be gone before a trip around the table.

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget the dinner rolls. Seriously. Write it on your arm in sharpie right now. If you’re not trying to make rolls from scratch, consider a ready-to-bake option like Pillsbury

Pantry reminder: don’t forget the seasonings

We’ve all been there. You make a trip to the store, carry in all the groceries and realize, “I’ve forgotten the KEY ingredient that will take me to flavortown.”

This year, make sure these essential seasonings make it in your cart so you have everything you need to put together a flavorful Thanksgiving feast:

  1. Butter (lots of it)
  2. Rosemary
  3. Thyme
  4. Sage
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Garlic 

Dig into dessert: pumpkin pie and beyond

Sliced of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on a plate near the rest of the pie

Let’s be honest. This section could simply read “pumpkin pie” and we’d be done. But if you’re looking for an alternative this year, we’ve got you covered with a few options:

  • Pecan Pie: Southern classic featuring sweet, caramelized pecans in a flaky pie crust
  • Sweet Potato Pie: Sweet pie with a creamy, spiced filling
  • Fruit Crisp: Apple, peach or mixed berries topped with crispy, crumbly oats, sugar and butter

The right equipment for the job

Ahead of Thanksgiving morning, make sure your kitchen is stocked with the equipment you’ll need to pull off the upcoming feast. These must-haves include: 

  • Turkey baster for…well, anything baste-able
  • Meat thermometer for your turkey or ham
  • Large roasting pans for your sides (you’ll probably need a couple)

Turn our printable Thanksgiving shopping list into free gift cards

Thanksgiving dinner shopping checklist

Ahead of your grocery run this Thanksgiving, check out the Fetch app for some extra rewarding offers. Because if you’re going to prepare a meal for your loved ones, you deserve a little something extra for yourself. 

Like…I don’t know, your favorite free gift card.

Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll see you in the app. 

Topics: Food and Drink, Shopping Lists


Chris Zimmerman

Chris Zimmerman is a copywriter here at Fetch. Before joining the #FetchFam, he penned web content, TV scripts and more for virtually every brand category you can think of.