Rather than serving a formal Thanksgiving dinner this year, you might want to consider setting up a Thanksgiving buffet instead.
The fact that everything is arranged in a buffet style allows your guests to evaluate all the offers before starting to help themselves.
So rather than piling more and more food onto your plate as each course is passed around the table – and mindlessly reaching for the second and third helpings as the night wears on – all the world can eat mindfully and choose the foods and portions they really want.
With that in mind, here are some expert tips on how to put together a healthy Thanksgiving buffet.
1. Make sure there’s enough for everyone
You never want to have too little food, but you also don’t want to end up with pounds left mashed potatoes and stuffing in your refrigerator.
So how much food do you need in your Thanksgiving buffet?
“There’s no magic number for how much food to prepare for gatherings because some people will come back for the second or third or maybe even bring an extra guest,” says a registered dietitian nutritionist. Mascha DavisMPH, RDN, founder of mini fish and author of eat your vitamins.
As a general rule, Davis suggests assigning the following to each guest:
- A quarter pound of turkey (or other lean protein)
- Half to a cup on each side
- two rolls
- A slice of pie
Be sure to aim for variety in your appetizers and side dishes – not everybody love the green bean casserole.
2. Set up the buffet correctly
For the main Thanksgiving buffet table, Davis suggests arranging everything in this order:
- Lighter and healthier side dishes (salads, vegetables)
- lean protein (turkey, ham, tofu)
- Well-being starchy side dishes (mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread)
- Toppings (sauce, cranberry sauce)
This way, guests have plenty of space for the most nutritious dishes.
By the time they get to starches and sauces, they won’t have as much room on their plate and they will naturally take smaller portions of these foods.
Place the butter dish on the dining table and place the dishes, drinks and desserts each on their own table.
3. Label the dishes
When planning your Thanksgiving buffet menu, ask your guests if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
If they do, be sure to let them know ahead of time which foods to avoid to avoid any accidents.
When preparing your Thanksgiving buffet, label each dish and note whether anything contains common allergens – like nuts, wheat or eggs – or is suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
If guests bring food, ask them to do the same.
It’s also a good idea to have more than one serving spoon for each item, so guests are less likely to use the same spoon for different dishes (which can be dangerous for guests with allergies). food).
4. Reduce the size of your plates
At Thanksgiving, it’s tempting to use satellite-sized dinnerware. But “bigger plates can trick our minds into eating more,” Davis says, which can make you feel uncomfortably overloaded.
(We’ve all been there.)
Davis recommends opting for smaller plates and bowls for Thanksgiving dinner. Customers can always come back for a few seconds if they are still hungry.
5. Consider pre-portioning meals
“It might be a good idea to have pre-portioned items to keep all guests safe and eliminate congestion at the Thanksgiving buffet line,” Davis says.
You can pre-cut casseroles, pour soup into ramekins, or even use small mason jars for cold dishes.
6. Enjoy a taste of everything
When it’s the main event, go ahead and enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
“This party is supposed to be a time to celebrate with family, friends and good food, so make it happen,” Davis says. “One day will not destroy your healthy lifestyle. Just keep a balanced plate in mind by filling half with veggies, a quarter with starches, and a quarter with protein. If you’re hungry after 20 minutes, then go take a few seconds.
7. Try these healthy recipes
Here are some crowd-pleasing recipes for the best Thanksgiving dinner:
Healthier Green Bean Casserole
Just as creamy as the classic, this version takes a bit more cooking — and it’s definitely worth it. Get the recipe here.
Check the label of the bread you buy for this recipe to make sure it’s vegan. (Some brands add dairy or eggs.) Get the recipe here.
Healthier Cranberry Sauce
Use orange juice to add sweetness and depth of flavor. Get the recipe here.
Whole Wheat Crusted Pumpkin Pie
This healthier pumpkin pie recipe includes pumpkin puree, evaporated skim milk, maple syrup (or raw honey) for sweetness, and a whole wheat crust! Get the recipe here.