Planning for Thanksgiving during COVID

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. Thanks to COVID-19 most of us won’t be traveling. Even those of you who are lucky to live close to family may not be able to get together. Most Thanksgivings this year will only be those who live in your household or close extended family. Our Thanksgiving gatherings will be much smaller this year and it means we will have rethink our normal meal preparation and planning.

Leftover Overload

The first issue for planning this years Thanksgiving is going to be reducing the amount you prepare. If you don’t scale down your meal, you are going to have too much food leftover. Grocery stores and growers saw this coming so this year you will find that turkeys and hams are much smaller than in the past. My family would normally prepare two turkeys so we can have a fresh turkey and a smoked turkey. I always look for turkeys between 11 and 13 pounds but frequently have trouble finding turkeys that small. This year that shouldn’t be an issue because growers have butchered the turkeys younger and most will be 13 pounds or less. You should see the same with the size of the hams available. The general rule is that you want 1 pound of bone-in turkey per person you are cooking for. If you want plenty of turkey leftovers then I suggest you plan for 1.5 pounds per person. My family loves leftover turkey so I do 3 pounds per person. Plan accordingly and hopefully you don’t need a big bird because they are going to be hard to find.

Scaling Recipes

The smaller turkey or ham is the easy part. Scaling the recipes that you been preparing for generations is going to be the tricky part. This is especially true for those of you like me who have been making these recipes for so long you don’t measure and cook them all by memory. This year we will need to find all those recipes and scale them to an appropriate size. For most recipes this will be simple but for others you might need some help to convert the cups to ounces or tablespoons. You can refer to the chart below to help you find the measurement you need. The rules for dry and liquid are very similar so if your recipe calls for 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and you need to reduce it by a third you can use teaspoons which are 3 tsp to 1 tbsp to break that number down to a useable number for division. If you are unable to figure out the scaling please email me at with the recipe and I will happily do the math for you. Also if you are using recipes from this site you can mouse over the servings numer and it will give you a slider to adjust the number of servings and it will do the math for you. I suggest you browse my list of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Liquid Measurement Conversions

1 cup8 fluid ounces1/2 pint237 ml
2 cups16 fluid ounces1 pint474 ml
4 cups32 fluid ounces1 quart946 ml
2 pints32 fluid ounces1 quart946 ml
4 quarts128 fluid ounces1 gallon3.784 liters
8 quartsone peck
4 pecksone bushel
dashless than 1/4 teaspoon

Dry Measurement Conversions

3 teaspoons1 tablespoon1/2 ounce14.3 grams
2 tablespoons1/8 cup1 fluid ounce28.3 grams
4 tablespoons1/4 cup2 fluid ounces56.7 grams
5 1/3 tablespoons1/3 cup2.6 fluid ounces75.6 grams
8 tablespoons1/2 cup4 ounces113.4 grams1 stick butter
12 tablespoons3/4 cup6 ounces.375 pound170 grams
32 tablespoons2 cups16 ounces1 pound453.6 grams
64 tablespoons4 cups32 ounces2 pounds907 grams

Think of Others

Before you scale your recipes I ask that you take the time to call your elderly family members, neighbors and friends. Make sure that someone will be bringing them food on this normally social holiday. I have read a number of articles recently about Broken Heart Syndrome and how so many are physically and mentally deteriating due to the lack of human contact and social interaction. This has been especially hard on the elderly but I personally know a number of individuals in the 30-50 age group that has been hard hit because of the seclusion they are having to endure in lockdown. If nothing else take some extra time and talk to them on the phone and try to lift their spirits.

Reducing Stress

The holidays always have a certain level of stress to them. Maybe you don’t get along with your family or you are not comfortable in the kitchen and you are responsible for your families meal. I think this year it is more important than ever to try to reduce that stress. Stress weakens our immune system and we all need our immune systems as strong as possible. For some of you this might be a good time to use COVID as an excuse to stay home and avoid the family drama. For others that are dealing with far fewer people to serve you might find it makes more sense to order from a local restaurant and help support them during these extremely rough times. No one will judge you if you buy a pie or pre-prepared dish for your table. You can also read my article about Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks or my article How to make Thanksgiving Dinner without breaking a sweat. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them all.

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