Thanksgiving Dinner for One (or Two)

According to a CDC survey of mental health, more than 1 in 3 Americans have symptoms of anxiety or depression. Compare that to 2019 rates closer to 1 in 10. To make matters worse, right when many of us could use moral support from friends and family, the CDC recommends that we stay home for Thanksgiving and celebrate with the people in our households only. On the upside, if you don’t get along with an obnoxious sibling, you won’t need to make up excuses for staying away this year.

Should I stay or should I go? A lesson from Canada

If you can’t decide whether to travel or not, please consider the aftermath of Thanksgiving in Canada this year. The country experienced a huge spike in Covid cases two weeks after the holiday, which fell on October 12th. Also keep in mind that Covid had not spiraled out of control in Canada before Thanksgiving like it has in the United States. So just imagine the carnage a similar spike would bring here.

My sister and daughters in Canada didn’t see my elderly mother for Thanksgiving this year. It sounds depressing but by staying away, they increased the chances of having my mom around next Thanksgiving.

Adjust your menu to avoid wasting food

Now that I’ve convinced you to stay put, you may find scaling back the big meal a difficult adjustment if you usually cook for a large crowd. But if you buy as much food as usual, you’ll likely end up wasting more of it. Even on an average day, US consumers throw out 150,000 pounds of food. In fact, if food waste was a pumpkin pie, consumers would account for the biggest slice (43 percent) going to waste, compared to farms or restaurants and so on. Every fourth Thursday of November, we waste even more.

According to the NRDC, we toss an astonishing 200 hundred million pounds of turkey over the Thanksgiving holiday, wasting not only the turkey itself, but all the resources that went into producing it, such as the water, energy, labor and land. The emissions generated by this waste are equivalent to 800,000 cross-country car trips.

The nifty Guest-imator dinner planning tool will help you cut the waste. It calculates how much food you’ll have to prepare, based on the number of guests, the size of their appetites, how many leftover meals you’d like, and the number and types of dishes you’ll serve.

I have leftover kabocha squash purée that I’ll likely use in place of pumpkin for my pie

My menu for one

For the first time since I moved to the US in 1998, I’ll spend Thanksgiving alone. I won’t see my kids. I won’t have a potluck with a group of friends like I usually do. And honestly, I don’t feel very motivated at the moment to bother cooking. But I know that once I have cleared the hurdle of shopping this weekend—for me, the most daunting part by far of preparing Covid Thanksgiving dinner—I’ll enjoy cooking my meal. Plus I need to eat. I may as well eat pie.

Initial menu

This seems like a lot of food and a lot of work for one person so I cut the stuffing and swapped out the sourdough bread for quicker sourdough focaccia. I love to add leftover focaccia—if it lasts—to tomato soup. (I’m sorry, I haven’t posted all of these recipes on my blog. I can only write so much!)

Revised menu

  • Sourdough focaccia
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted honeynut squash
  • Nutloaf
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Pear-cranberry chutney
  • Pumpkin pie

My menu is a bit of a carbfest. But… I will spend Thanksgiving alone. I’m eating all the carbs and pie I want.

According to the Guest-imator, I need only three potatoes for the dinner and three leftover meals. If I didn’t have focaccia and squash also on the side, I might want more potatoes but I can fit only so much food on my Thanksgiving plate.

We’ll always have Zoom

I’ll Zoom with some friends on Thanksgiving Day. Whether you zoom your dinner with family or you dine with them in person, you may want to listen to this episode of the How to Save a Planet podcast beforehand. It covers talking to your family about climate change.

I love this podcast. Each week, hosts Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Alex Blumberg provide solutions to the climate crisis and actions listeners can take.

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay well and stay safe.

5 Replies to “Thanksgiving Dinner for One (or Two)”

  1. As much as I love to fill my home with family and friends on Thanksgiving and all the other holidays or even just a weekend, my meal this Thursday will be my husband and myself and a Zoom meeting with our kids and their kids. It’s just a meal, not worth risking anyone’s health! Have a lovely meal, enjoy your families from a distance, and we’ll all have great parties next year!

    1. Hi Dorothy,
      I agree, it’s not worth the risk, as much as I would love to spend it with people. It will be sad for a lot of us but thank goodness for Zoom. It will be VERY busy on Thursday!
      ~ Anne-Marie

      1. Not ideal but Zoom will be fine. We had a baby shower for my niece this past September and it was a ton of fun!

  2. I will be with my husband and sister who lives with us. It will be the first Thanksgiving without my mother who is in a Memory care nursing home. It will be tough, very emotional, but we are sending my step kids gift boxes and making the most of it. I plan on making stuffing with Sourdough bread and your pumpkin pie. Stay safe and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    1. Hi Katie,
      I’m sorry you can’t be with your mom this year, or your step kids. We’re all going to really enjoy next year. Your meal sounds like it will be delicious 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well.
      ~ Anne-Marie

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