Cook Fast, Live Young: Thanksgiving Dinner for Two


Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is taking the time to cook a nice feast, especially if you’re the type who normally nukes your dinner. Of course, when you’re only cooking for two, the idea of making an entire turkey and multiple courses may seem like overkill, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the experience entirely. There are many easy ways to scale back, save money, and still enjoy a mouthwatering menu. Consider not buying a whole turkey.  As Heather mentioned in her post, you don’t have to buy a whole bird. Instead you can purchase turkey cutlets, a turkey breast, or legs and thighs. That way you will enjoy the traditional main meal, but you won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of meat you have when it’s all done. Another option is buying a Cornish game hen, which is smaller, but still gives you the experience of cooking an entire bird. You can even stuff them!

Stick to the basics. When you think of Thanksgiving, what dishes come to mind? For some, it’s mashed potatoes and gravy, while others may relish memories of cranberries and green bean casserole. Choose a favorite classic dish or two, and go to town! If you can, find ways to make a small serving. For example, instead of making an entire sweet potato casserole, just bake two separate sweet potatoes and have butter, brown sugar, and maybe some marshmallows available to put on top.

Buy single servings. Can’t go without each and every item on a traditional Thanksgiving menu? Often at your local grocery store, you can buy single servings of all the holiday favorites from green beans to pumpkin pie. Make the trip the day before or early in the morning to ensure that what you want is in stock.

Think leftovers. Taking the time to make one larger meal isn’t so bad when you consider that you’ll have food for the next few days. You can throw together a Thanksgiving sandwich the very next day: turkey, stuffing, gravy, and maybe even some cranberry slaw. It’s delicious, and a great way to keep food and all your hard work from going to waste.

Create a few frozen dinners. Another way to make those leftovers last longer is to create frozen dinners for later in the month. Plan ahead and get freezer-safe containers. When the food is ready, put the extras straight in the fridge to cool down, and then put them in the freezer when you’re done with your meal. Store them in small portions for two, so when you are ready to eat, you can just reheat when you actually need.

Make your own traditions. Again as Heather pointed out in her post, you don’t have to stick to the classic dishes–there are alternatives to a traditional turkey dinner.  Some people order Chinese out every year or make a trip to their favorite restaurants, but you can also tackle other easier to make seasonal favorites, such as fondue or a nice stew.

Are you doing an intimate Thanksgiving dinner or going “The Full Monty” with a traditional feast? Tell me how you celebrate turkey day in the comments.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler has ten years of professional writing and editing experience. For four years, she managed the web content for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Currently, she is an editor for the geek girl e-zine, a contributor to the career blog at, and owner of the food blog Follow her @cookfast on Twitter and learn more about her work at

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  1. DCStewart

    4 years ago

    Great tips on freezing the food. I plan on doing that with many dishes ;)

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