Planning a Thanksgiving Dinner: Food Needed per Person

A stuffed, Thanksgiving turkey.

In planning your Thanksgiving dinner, don't worry about following the standard nutritional guidelines regarding serving sizes. On this occasion, it's definitely better to have too much food than not enough. The amount and type of food you have really depends on your family's traditions and the ages, tastes, and special dietary needs of those having dinner. Here are some general guidelines to use in planning your menu.


This can include turkey, ham, duck, turducken, or even tofurkey. Plan on a pound per adult or teenager and a ½ pound for each kid. This takes into account bones, skin, personal preferences, seconds, and leftovers.


For starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, or corn, provide 4–6 ounces, or around ? of a cup per person. For regular vegetables such as green beans or broccoli, serve 2–4 ounces, or a ½ cup per person. If you are serving salad, make enough for each person to have 1 cup.


The amount of stuffing depends on the size of the turkey and whether you want leftovers. Follow package directions for how much to make or figure on 6–8 ounces per person. If you are serving rolls, plan on 2 per person.


If you are serving chips, veggie sticks and dips, olives, or stuffed celery, don't make too much. You don't want people to fill up on these before dinner. If you're serving cheese and crackers, stick to 2 or 3 kinds of cheese, at about 4 ounces each.


This can include cranberry sauce, brown gravy, giblet gravy, and salad dressing. Plan on a ½ cup per person.


Allow for one serving per person. . . and then add some more. Everyone always makes room for dessert.