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WWYD Thanksgiving menu when it's just "us"


sbgrace
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For 27 years, we've shared Thanksgiving with both my husband's family and mine. There has always been tons of food but also lots of eaters. Our Thanksgiving this year will be just our (4 person) household and a "zoom" gathering. I've let go of disappointment and am trying to decide on the menu.

Part of me wants to have all the loved foods to make it feel special. Part of me is thinking pare it down, but I don't know how that will feel, particularly if others are zooming with full spreads.

Would you make "all" our favorite sides, knowing we won't be able to eat that much or would you pare it down?

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Yes...I make it all just for "us" every year.  If we are traveling on Tgiving in a normal year, I still make a feast at home too, either after or before travel.  I love, love Thanksgiving food and would probably make my self a feast even if I were alone and would spend a week eating the leftovers every day.  😁

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We are going to be just us too. Not only did I pare it way down, I am just not cooking all of that. So we placed a prepared food order at Whole Foods. I think it is Turkey, stuffing, beans, and gravy maybe. I did order extra stuffing. And my DS9 and I are going to attempt to make a pie together.  

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I'm cooking for just the three of us, but we are heading to dd's the next day and taking her leftovers. I've asked them what dishes they want. They want our usual dishes, but I won't do a full turkey. Normally I can find pieces of turkey, fresh in the grocery section. I'll get some pieces, wrap them in foil with poultry seasoning, and cook them in the crock pot. 

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I would ask the family what they would like. Over the last 20 years our Thanksgivings have varied - sometimes huge crowds, sometimes just us, sometimes just a few other people, a couple times in a rented cabin. I always do my little family's favorites no matter what else is going on. I just do enough so that nonfreezable leftovers are cooked in smaller quantities. (I do make stock from the turkey carcass and have some leftover things we like, so even a turkey doesn't go to waste for the 3 of us that eat turkey.)

But maybe this is a good year to change it up completely. I'd talk it over with the participants. They may surprise you.

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We often have holidays alone due to my DH's work schedule. We spread the favorite dishes out across multiple meals instead of having all the favorites at once. It's easier to cook that way too!

I think we're going to do a turkey even though we don't have company, and then we'll freeze the leftovers or even make and freeze some casseroles. We're not big turkey eaters, generally, so sometimes we do a chicken instead.

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Last week I asked the kids their favorite TG foods and tried to pare down the list.  They decided on mashed potatoes and gravy instead of sweet potatoes, hashbrown casserole or stuffing (my favorite).  No need to have that many carb-filled sides.  If you don't want to do a full turkey,  get a Turkey breast!  

Here is my menu- I'll start on Wednesday 

Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans (not the casserole), homemade rolls, jello salad (still deciding between orange, cherry or cranberry), dip and veggies.  One chocolate and one pumpkin dessert- still deciding. 

 

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I know I say this every time, but sometimes I either order Boston Market or do Rachel Ray’s Thanksgiving in 60. She has a few of this menus, but I always return to the first one that has boneless turkey breast and pumpkin soup. I want all the dishes, because leftovers are nice, but it’s a lot on the big day. I’m going to see if I can sell the mashed redskin potatoes this year do I don’t have to peel. Also, my crew is fine with stove top. I’m the one who prefers homemade stuffing, but I can make that when I’m not trying to do ten dishes. I may even do freezer rolls. Pies and cranberry sauce can be made ahead. I might even make Mac n cheese tomorrow and split the recipe so I can freeze half. 

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We love our household celebration every year!  I hope you can enjoy it being different!

We settled on sides that we like and a main dish we like.  Some is "traditional" some isn't.  Together we decorate the buffet and the table and we cook together too.

This year I'm sticking to what I can easily get so it might be a normal dinner but we'll still decorate etc.

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We had our thanksgiving celebration in mid-October in Canada. We're used to a very large extended family gathering of 25+ people, with turkey, all the trimmings and lots of different kinds of desserts. This year it was just our family of 6. I focused on the special items we all loved the most and were practical. We had a spiral ham, mashed white potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, corn, and home-made apple crisp (heavy on the crisp) with ice cream for dessert. It was great. We had left-overs for a couple days, which was great.

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We tried a marinated turkey breast one year, and DH felt very deprived.  So we ordered the smallest size turkey that was available, 7-9 pounds, and even though it's just the two of us it should not be overwhelming.  I have a fantastic chicken pie recipe that I will try some of the left over turkey meat in, and DH will happily eat turkey sandwiches as long as I make plenty of gravy to pour over them.  I will consume any quantity of stuffing.  I am not capable of getting tired of it.  So it will be just fine.

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I’ve always done the entire traditional menu, but I don’t necessarily make everything in full quantities.  We do normally have a giant turkey to provide plenty of leftovers for the freezer, but I went smaller this year in order to fit a Christmas ham in the freezer just in case.  And I make a ton of stuffing because that’s my favorite part. But I make smaller batches of all other sides based on how many people like each thing. Which gives me one lonely little sweet potato for myself, lol.

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We often eat with just the 5 of us due to my oldest’s food allergies, and then go celebrate with family after. We don’t love turkey so we get a standing rib roast. There are a couple of other sides we do but we don’t make it a giant affair, it’s too much for my husband and I to cook ourselves. We’ve also been vegan or vegetarian some years and done wildly different meals. 
 

this year we contemplated doing a bunch of appetizers but my kids still want the expensive meat. Lol 

 

I hope you have a great day, and find ways to still make it enjoyable. I ordered us all new pajamas to wear all day since we aren’t leaving the house and I’m very excited about that. 🙂

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We often have small thanksgiving meals and this year is no different. DH is deployed and its just me, our kids, and my friend who just moved back to our state. Instead of a giant trough of Mac n’ cheese, it’s a 5x8 or 6x9 pan, for ex. 
 

We’re not roasting a turkey (we hate them anyway). We’re roasting a slow-growth, heirloom breed chicken. Yumm! We bought commissary ends and pieces of ham (something I haven’t done in years!) to serve alongside. My bestie is joining us and making garlic shrimp. That’s new for us.

So, yeah, same menu just less of everything.

Meat: Chicken, ham, shrimp

Sides: Cornbread dressing, twice baked potatoes (maybe, might save this for Christmas), Mac n cheese, green beans w/garlic, cranberry relish

Dessert: Sweet potato pie, pineapple coffee cake

 

Edited by Sneezyone
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Growing up Thanksgivign was almost always just my immediate family - 4 people - due to distance of relatives and we still did a full thanksgving meal. And the couple times as an adult we couldn't visit with all the family (due to illness, etc) I still make a full meal. Maybe not as many pies though, lol. 

One year, my kids came down with strep throat the wednesday afternoon before thanksgiving. It was 3pm and I had NOTHING to make becasue we were supposed to eat at my mom's. All I was supposed to bring was a pumpkin pie! I went to the store and loaded up and we had turkey (found one that wasn't frozen, thankfully!),stuffing,  mashed and sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, gravy, and pumpkin pie. 

Our tradition on years we are home is to put on the parade and watch in our pajamas while cooking and enjoying the smell of roast turkey fill the house. 

Edited by ktgrok
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I found a restaurant that is doing pick up Thanksgiving meals, where they prepare it ready to be reheated, you pick it up, and pop it in the oven to finish. We have a turkey breast and several sides, which, since DD is vegetarian, she largely picked.  DD's birthday is almost always Thanksgiving week (she was born on Thanksgiving), and this year is the day before, so we are doing a zoom that night, and Thanksgiving will be just us, and my parents will zoom with my brother and SIL and her family. 

 

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We're ordering smoked turkey breast from a barbeque place, and then we're doing just a few of our favorite sides and one pie. Several people invited us, but I'm wary of group situations because of raging COVID in our area. I have two friends who are sick right now with it.  We've done the big Thanksgiving with friends, and a small family celebration like we are this year with just immediate family.

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3 hours ago, dmmetler said:

I found a restaurant that is doing pick up Thanksgiving meals, where they prepare it ready to be reheated, you pick it up, and pop it in the oven to finish. We have a turkey breast and several sides, which, since DD is vegetarian, she largely picked.  DD's birthday is almost always Thanksgiving week (she was born on Thanksgiving), and this year is the day before, so we are doing a zoom that night, and Thanksgiving will be just us, and my parents will zoom with my brother and SIL and her family. 

 

 

Same, but we're getting it from a grocery store. $50 for 4 of us. No one here is extremely attached to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Our menu when it is just our family:  ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn on the cob (one child has a strong preference or we would do a cream of corn casserole), macaroni and cheese, and rolls.  We go either way on stuffing.  We do have gravy from a powder mix.  
 

We also have a breakfast casserole.  
 

We also have 1 or 2 pies, usually purchased.  
 

We shop together, my husband cooks, and I do all the cleaning and prepare the ham and ham bone for leftovers or soup.
 

Edit:  this is an extremely kid-friendly menu.  We have one pickier eater who loves ham, corn on the cob, and macaroni and cheese.  That *heavily* influences these dishes being on the menu, though we all like them.  We don’t mess around with those, though, because our pickier eater really does enjoy them.   
 

Otherwise we would not have Mac and cheese at all, and would have a different corn side.  
 

Also — all the kids like the Mac and cheese a lot — my husband and I are more “eh” on it.  
 

We have done this menu for both Thanksgiving and Christmas the past 3 years and it is a hit 🙂 We moved closer to family over the summer and I had been really looking forward to spending holidays together again, but it looks like it is going to be another year at this point.  

Edited by Lecka
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We will be just the two of us as both our adult kids won't be traveling home and the friends who always join us will just meet us outside after dinner.

I am wavering between going all out and just skipping the traditional foods altogether and making something that doesn't pretend to be Thanksgiving dinner. 

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We’ve had years, four when DH was in the Army and three when we were far way because of job transfer, and we did the whole shebang because “just us” is a whole family unit and you’re still setting traditions for when your children are grown!

 

i grew up in a family where we always went to Mom’s side or Dad’s side, so I guess when we moved away I really looked forward to the opportunity of creating “just us” traditions. So much so, in fact, we retained having a “just us” celebration after we moved back. It was extra work, but now that we have young adults, I’m extra glad we did it! 
 

This year I am not too heartbroken about his side/my side stuff, but so bummed over not having my adult kids. 😞 However, for the ones here, we will do the big meal. The more you cook, the more leftovers you have - it’s a huge bonus! 😉 

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It has always been "just us," with occasional small variations in who that 'us" encompassed. We are a vegetarian/vegan family, so never have to worry about leftover turkey. Basically, I make everything that most people consider the sides -- including two kinds of potatoes -- and that's dinner.

This year, it was looking like neither of the adult kids was going to be home and that my son's ex (who is still living with us) would be elsewhere. I was having a lot of trouble working up enthusiasm for cooking the while shebang for two, so we had kind of planned this chuck the whole thing and order Indian food. However, it now seems that my son will be available for an early "dinner" and wants the bring his new girlfriend. So I am back to cooking.

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We are doing most of our traditional foods for just the six of us, but I'm going to try to spread out the cooking a little more. On Tuesday, I'm going to pull some leftover roast beef out of my freezer and will make some mashed potatoes to go with that, but will make enough to have leftover potatoes to serve on Thanksgiving. My other idea was to used boxed potatoes, which I grew up with and like, but this way I get to enjoy scratch made potatoes but not do it on the actual holiday.

We have a 20 pound turkey, because we like leftovers. Last year I bought extra turkeys at the grocery after the holiday, when they were marked down, and I may do that again. Leftover turkey is a plus for us. I actually like chicken better generally, but I'm happy to use turkey from my freezer for soups, casseroles, pot pies, and paninis.

Over the weekend after Thanksgiving, I will make turkey tettrazini, and will make broth from the carcass and make turkey rice soup, in addition to just having a meal of leftovers on Friday. We all love these post-Thankgiving meals.

Some of my kids want ham instead of turkey, so I bought a ham and will make it on Wednesday for supper; anyone who wants it on Thanksgiving can eat the leftovers. To go with that, I will make a corn casserole, which is also a kid request, and mashed sweet potatoes. Both of those sides can be reheated the next day.

I've got green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower that I can decide among for vegetable side dish. I'm going to gussy up Stove Top for the dressing.

I'm going to make a pumpkin pie and a chocolate chip pie for Thanksgiving. I am likely to make an apple crisp earlier in the week, so we will have leftovers of that.

If I were going to have guests, I would have appetizers, like a veggie tray and maybe a special dip, cheese and crackers, etc. I will skip those things this year, but we might have some munchies like this for the weekend after.

Basically, I am doing many of the same dishes as always, but I'm spreading the cooking out over several days. If I were to have guests, I wouldn't choose to serve them leftovers as part of the Thanksgiving meal, but for my immediate family, it's fine and lets everyone have their personal favorites on the table without me having to cook it all on the same day.

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