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A Buying and Storing Guide for Your Thanksgiving Groceries

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Getting ahead on your Thanksgiving shopping packs plenty of benefits — shorter lines, first dibs on essential ingredients, plus more time to spend with family and friends. It also requires a bit of planning. If you’re buying salad greens days ahead, will they be springy and crisp in time for your feast? And what about the bacon for your Brussels sprouts — or the heavy cream for your mashed potatoes? 

For most foods, it’s perfectly fine to stock up several days ahead as long as they are stored properly. Some ingredients, however, are best saved until the last minute. Use this guide to plan your shopping so your haul stays its best from our stores to your table.

How long will my Thanksgiving groceries stay fresh?

Before you plan your shopping trip, it’s helpful to know how long favorites like green beans, apples and more can actually hang around in your fridge (or freezer). Our Food Safety and Quality Assurance teams recommend following guidance for quality and freshness from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). See our chart to find the answers — some may surprise you.

Grocery Item
Brussels sprouts
3 – 5 days
10 – 12 months
Green beans
3 – 5 days
8 months
3 – 7 days
10 – 12 months
2 – 3 weeks
10 – 12 months
1 – 2 weeks
10 – 12 months
Salad greens
3 – 5 days
Not recommended
Fresh herbs
7 ­ – 10 days
1 – 2 months
2 months
12 months
4 – 6 weeks
8 months
Bacon (uncured)
4 ­– 7 days
3 – 4 weeks
Sausage (bulk)
1 ­– 2 days
1 – 2 months
1 – 2 months
6 – 9 months
3 – 5 weeks
Not recommended
Cream cheese
2 weeks
Not recommended
Heavy cream
10 days
3 – 4 months
Pumpkin pie
3 – 4 days
1 – 2 months

Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Next, build your Thanksgiving shopping list around what ingredients will last, bearing in mind that you may need to freeze the ones that won’t (like sausage). If stored and thawed correctly, frozen meats, vegetables and fruits can be just as tasty their fresh counterparts.

Looking for freezing tips and more ideas? Check out our Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks.

Storing Tips for Thanksgiving Essentials

The USDA’s guidance is a good starting point, but it depends on one big thing — storing your ingredients correctly. Follow these tips to get as much as possible from your groceries.

  • Get organized. Thanksgiving groceries, especially turkey, can require serious kitchen real estate. Organizing your refrigerator, pantry and countertops before you shop will guarantee that every item in your haul has its rightful storage spot.
  • Use the produce drawers. The humidity level in this often-overlooked space is actually different than the rest of your refrigerator, and it will help keep your green beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and salad greens crisp.
  • Handle greens with care. To keep your salad greens nice and crisp, don’t wash them in advance. Until you’re ready to use them, refrigerate in an open plastic bag and add a few paper towels to soak up any loose water.
  • Butter is safe at room temperature. Butter will last longer in your refrigerator, but it can also be stored safely at room temperature for 1 – 2 days. If you’re baking recipes or serving rolls, having softened butter at the ready can be a game changer.
  • Some ingredients are happiest in the pantry. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic and winter squash do not need to be stored in your refrigerator. When stored in a cool, dark space like your pantry, these ingredients can last several weeks.
  • Buying a fresh turkey? Read this: Our fresh turkeys are kept in a deep chill to maintain a crust of ice on the surface. This ensures that you can safely store your bird at home until you're ready to cook. Keep your turkey deep-chilled (35°F) in the coldest spot in your fridge, turned down as low as possible, or store in a secondary fridge. Over time, the ice will easily melt and your bird will be perfect by Thanksgiving.

Looking for more information? Check out the USDA FoodKeeper App for a comprehensive database of food and beverage storage times.

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