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How Much Turkey to Buy?

Cooking Tip of the Day

How big a turkey you need to purchase is dependent on a number of things. …

• How many adults and how many children will be there?
• Are they big eaters?
• How many other food items will be served at the main meal?
• Haw many food items will be served before the main meal?
• How long between when your guests will arrive and the main meal… essentially how long will they be consuming any appetizers or hors’douvres?
• Do you want leftovers?

There is a general rule of thumb to figure about 1 pound of turkey per person. I would suggest you go to the Butterball website ….. they have a neat calculator to help you determine the size turkey needed. It has a box to check for big eaters … which is good… but I don’t think a family has all big eaters… so that could cause them to over calculate the amounts needed. I must warn you though, I put in our family’s criteria and it came up with a size turkey I know will be way too large. … but it’s a good guide….

They way I do it… is …. I figure 1 pound per adult… ½ pound for any children under 10… and about 2 pounds for leftovers. I think that leaves sufficient leeway…. not every child will eat ½ pound… nor will every adult eat a pound… so that “overage” can be figured for some of the big eater portions… and 2 pounds of leftovers (which is on the low side)… any over calculation on the per person amounts makes up for the leftover shortfall. To account for the big eaters… add about 2 pounds for every 2-3 big eaters.

The bottom line is… I would do the Butterball calculation and I would do one by yourself…. use that as a poundage range…. When you go to purchase a turkey you will likely have to settle for a size in between anyway.

For example:

We have 8 adults and 2 children planned… 1 pound for each adult….the children are very young… but I still count them as ½ pound each…. I figure their unused portions will go nicely to leftovers… we like leftovers.

8 adults= 8 pounds
2 children=1 pound
Leftovers=2 pounds

Total 11 pounds

We have 2 big eaters… I added 2 pounds……because we also like a lot of leftovers... so that brings the total to 13 pounds….

The Butterball website came up with 18 pounds…. way too much for us... I think the problem with the calculator lies with the fact it assumes all 8 adults and 2 children are big eaters when the big eaters box is checked…. when I unchecked the “big eaters” box it came up with 13 pounds… which matches my calculation. By the same token I caution you when checking the “light eaters” box….. the poundage in my example drops to 9 pounds….

In both cases the leftovers box was checked…. personally I think 9 pounds for 8 adults and 2 children is low…. Light eaters or not… especially since we want leftovers.

Have I confused you? I hope not… I hope I helped….






You may also be interested in these posts...

Fresh or Frozen Turkey - Your Decision
Cooking Methods for Turkey
Thawing a Frozen Turkey
Safe Handling and Roasting of the Turkey Tips
Stuffing Tips
Food Safety Support
Safe Carving and Serving of Turkey
Storing Leftovers Safely
Time Limits on Leftovers
Fun Stuff - Turkey Trivia

Additional posts you may find helpful:

Using Thermometers
Instant Mini Grilling Thermometers

2 comments:

mswonka November 1, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

Wow, what a great article and so thorough! I've always struggled with getting the right portions so there aren't too many leftovers. THANKS!!!

Linda November 1, 2009 at 6:19 PM  

You're very welcome....Glad you liked it!

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