Whether you are preparing a turkey for the first time this holiday season or as a seasoned cook, it is important to plan your purchase early. There are many things to consider when making your purchase from how many people will you be serving to planning for leftovers.
How Much to Buy
As you are preparing for the holiday meal, knowing how many people you are serving is important. It is good to know how many adults compared to teenagers and younger children. Each age group has its light eaters or those who have been for the family dinner and will eat double what they may normally. A good rule of thumb is to calculate 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person if cooking a whole bird. If you are cooking a turkey breast, you will want to calculate 3/4 pound per person.
You can purchase a bird either fresh, frozen or precooked. Many stores that provide fresh or cooked turkeys require ordering up to 2 weeks in advance. A fresh turkey should be picked up 1 or 2 days prior to cooking. In the case of using a precooked turkey, it should also be picked up 1 to 2 days prior to reheating to 165 degrees. A frozen one can be found throughout the holiday season; however, plan ample time to thaw. All will require refrigerator space for up to 6 days in advance of cooking depending on which method you have selected to purchase.
Thawing a Turkey
Safely thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. The size of the turkey will determine how many days it will take to thaw. It typically takes 1 day for every 4 pounds. So a 24 pound bird will feed 18 to 24 people and take approximately 6 days to thaw.
Whether you have purchased a fresh, precooked or frozen turkey to cook, all need to reach a temperature of 165 degrees for safety.