How Food Bankers do Thanksgiving

What do you picture when you think of Thanksgiving? A table surrounded by family? A living room filled with friends? A quiet evening with loved ones? What about the food? Do you have mashed potatoes that are lumpy or smooth? Turkey or ham? What about green bean casserole? What foods can you not live without?

To get to the bottom of what makes for a great Thanksgiving, we asked food experts, the staff of the Greater Boston Food Bank.  

Here’s what GBFB staff had to say:

When asked about what foods absolutely had to be on the Thanksgiving table, a majority agreed that mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce were mandatory. Not only were these foods mandatory, but people seemed to have a strong opinion on how they needed to be prepared.

The majority of GBFB staff thought mashed potatoes should be smooth (not lumpy). A few outliers thought that mashed potatoes should be served with other foods mixed into them, like peas and corn. If you’re willing to stray from the traditional this holiday, try this cheesy mashed potato recipe that has extra protein thanks to a surprise ingredient.

When it came to stuffing, most thought that it should be cooked separately from the bird. Here’s an easy stuffing recipe that becomes even easier if you start out with stale bread. If you are looking for something to do with extra stuffing, try these stuffing dumplings for lunch the day after the feast.

People were nearly split about cranberry sauce but a few more people prefer homemade over canned. Want to try making your own cranberry sauce this year? Check out this Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe.

To wrap up the meal, most of the food bank could agree on having pie but we couldn’t agree on what type. There was a fairly even split between apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies.

Once the food has been eaten and the dishes washed, GBFB staff say they spend the rest of the day spending time with friends and family – watching football, going for walks, and sharing what they’re thankful for.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!


Written by Rachel Caty, MPH, RDN, LDN