What to do on Turkey Day?
November 18, 2018 7:07 AM   Subscribe

I have Thanksgiving all to myself this year! What should I do to mark the occasion?

I spent Thanksgiving last year alone, and I treated it like any other day off (lazed around the house and ate frozen peas for dinner). This year, I want to do something to celebrate, so it feels more like a proper holiday.

Any good "festive" recipes for one/two (I don't mind a bit of leftovers)? My roommate went home this week, so I have full use of the fridge and kitchen! No food restrictions other than that I don't like potatoes. And I'm trying to be low-carb, but I can make exceptions if the recipe's really worth it!

I live in NoVa near DC, if there's any events in the area that I should check out. I'd rather not go out to a restaurant if possible due to my budget being tight for eating out this month.

Thanks all!
posted by devrim to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Roast a Cornish hen?

If you're interested in volunteering/community service, there's a bunch of options, some of which are listed here.
posted by basalganglia at 7:24 AM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can cook Thanksgiving dinner in one sheet pan.

The recipe includes:
-dry-brined, garlic butter turkey thighs
-shallot stuffing
-a combination of simply roasted sweet potatoes, russets, and delicata squash
-miso Brussels sprouts,
-little ramekins of blood orange cranberry sauce

It also includes suggestions for swapping things out if your Thanksgiving priorities are different.
posted by meemzi at 7:27 AM on November 18, 2018 [23 favorites]

Yeah, helping to cook a meal for needy people and maybe even sharing it with them is a great way to spend a few hours on Thanksgiving. I was going to post the same link as the person above. A quick search for "Thanksgiving 2018" and volunteering and the name of your county or city may yield good results.
posted by mareli at 7:31 AM on November 18, 2018

That sheet pan post is genius. I was going to say about the same, but with turkey and stuffing in a cake pan and mashed potatoes on the stove. If you do this, you may want a jar of premade gravy.
posted by advicepig at 7:32 AM on November 18, 2018

Note: Thanksgiving is the highest turnout day for volunteers at soup kitchens. If you call around, expect many places to be full.
posted by advicepig at 7:33 AM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I like this Turkey & Stuffing for Two recipe.
posted by lazuli at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you want to add side dishes to your meal without cooking everything yourself, check out the Whole Foods salad bar. I had very delicious Thanksgiving food there earlier this week. If you don't get huge portions, it's not expensive (I spent less than $5 on lunch, and got little portions of cranberry sauce, stuffing, brussel sprouts with walnuts, butternut squash with sage and cranberries, green beans, tofu because I don't eat meat, and even a tiny piece of pie). If you have friends in town, maybe invite them for a hike or a trip to a park (or go by yourself). It's a nice day to spend outside, as long as the weather is decent.
posted by pinochiette at 9:01 AM on November 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

What foods do you especially love for Thanksgiving? I will be buying a turkey, cutting it in quarters (with a saw if it comes to that) and freezing 3 quarters for future use. Even high-quality birds are under .99/lb. Roast 1/4 turkey. I love stuffing & gravy so will make those. Roast Brussels sprouts, definitely, and Miso sounds well worth trying. Canned cran jelly. I will probably make an apple pie.

Leftover turkey gets used in sandwiches and wraps with horseradish mayo. Thanksgiving dinner leftovers are my very favorite food.

I'll take my dog to the dog park, and get a good movie to watch. Will make a few phone calls. A friend sent me a stack of books and I will spend some time reading. Maybe some MeFi Chat.

No matter how you feel about the military, there are a lot of US service members who are deployed, away from family, in hospitals. Veterans in hospitals with service-related injuries and illnesses. You could send a card or 2.
posted by theora55 at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Turkey breast (smoked, perhaps) and an apple pie. You're in a good part of the country for apples right now. Oh, and have a salad too.

You could also do a Jewish Thanksgiving, Chinese food and a movie.
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2018

I LOVE alone Thanksgiving! I like to walk or jog outside at some point so I don’t get what I call “couch poisoning,” that weird dark lonely lazy feeling of dread and doom I get if I stay inside all day.

I use muffin tins to make single-serving size stuffing (using whatever recipe you like, eat 1-2 portions, freeze the rest.) You could also do this for apple crisp. Or anything that could benefit from crunchy edges and portion control.

People often forget lunch on Thanksgiving, either grazing all day and eating early, or trying to “save up” for dinner. Both of those approaches are unhealthy for me and I wind up eating way too much and ruining my sleep with digestive distress. Instead, I like to do a nice “board” style lunch (cheese, nuts, pickles, smoked salmon, figs.) Feels special, can keep it relatively light.

Are you a movie person? I have certain movies I only watch during the holiday season, and Thanksgiving kicks that off for me. Some are holiday movies (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles) and some are just good for a cozy long weekend (Lord of the Rings.)

This sounds a little hokey, but a colorful supermarket bouquet and a nice smelling candle REALLY cheer me up. Also Bailey’s in my morning coffee. These are things I don’t do every day, so they just feel “holiday” to me.
posted by kapers at 11:07 AM on November 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

posted by kate4914 at 11:08 AM on November 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lots of people go out shopping in the evening. Regardless of how you feel about that and what it means for workers, it’s now a thing in this country. So if you do find yourself craving a crowd, there will be one. Movie theaters are open too.
posted by kapers at 11:22 AM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rhizome, that's Jewish Xmas. We USAian MOTs celebrate Thanksgiving too....
posted by brujita at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also flying solo this Thanksgiving! I’ve decidedly to teach myself how to make puff pastry from scratch. This of course is not a low carb endeavor.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2018

Rhizome, that's Jewish Xmas.

That's the joke! (linked for extra obviousness)
posted by rhizome at 1:34 PM on November 18, 2018

the ny times has had articles in the past 16 years describing how recently arrived Chinese immigrants get married on Thanksgiving because the restaurants are closed. my smartphone won't link from the app.
posted by brujita at 5:14 PM on November 18, 2018

Whole Foods does a nice stuffed turkey thigh and gravy. You can then make other sides to taste. Single serve pumpkin pie or mini bundt cakes are also a good bet for the lazy chef.
posted by crazycanuck at 5:43 PM on November 18, 2018

Get an audio book or podcast and walk 12 miles that day!
posted by at at 5:45 AM on November 19, 2018

Been a while, but we posted this 13 years ago when we did a small Thanksgiving.

posted by terrapin at 1:27 PM on November 19, 2018


I've done the "eat junk food" angle, but I've also done the "make a fancy-ass meal" angle too. This is the perfect opportunity to make a super-boffo meal just for you that takes all day to tend to - not actively standing in the kitchen and doing things all that time, more like "it simmers for 8 hours, and could probably stand to be stirred once an hour or so" stuff. Think like a cassoulet. (You could totally do a cassoulet for one and make it Thanksgiving-themed - it's beans, a variety of meats and sausage, all simmered together in a pot. Just make one of the meats in question be a turkey drumstick.)

In the past I've done a lamb and butternut squash stew, a Mexican soup with turkey and lima beans (I think), a more traditional meal when I saw a particularly wee turkey breast in my local supermarket once, another more traditional meal only with duck instead of turkey
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love alone Thanksgiving, too! In the past I've used it as an excuse to make my favorite appetizer-type foods (sausage-cheese balls, homemade cheese crackers, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms) and eat just those--no traditional roast or anything. There's always plenty for the next couple days, too. That + movies, or depending on the weather where I am, that + a bike ride, is a pretty glorious couple of days solo.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:47 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

These are not low-carb, but these turkey and stuffing meatballs (served with gravy and/or cranberry sauce) look super yummy. (I wish they fit into my Thanksgiving menu!)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 2:33 PM on November 20, 2018

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