[shop] where to buy your thanksgiving ingredients

Now that our five-day Halloween week/end and the nerve-wracking elections are over, we have a two-week break until the next major holiday – Thanksgiving! One of my favorites. For the past two years I’ve hosted an epic Thanksgiving dinner party, so I thought I would share how I shopped for them – keeping it as local as I possibly could.

How to Buy a Turkey:

I can take turkey or leave it, but in the interest of tradition, I believe in having some kind of poultry option on the table. Two years ago, I invested in an organic, free-range turkey from Tiny’s Organics – one that I picked up at my local Broadway Farmer’s Market. Last year, however, I decided to go mini and served everybody their own Cornish game hen, which I just got at a Safeway.

Now, as much as I appreciated that we were able to purchase a free-range turkey that lived a full and happy life just a few miles from my home, I call it an investment because that bird was NOT cheap. We got a small one – just 10 or 11lbs, but it cost about $60! I would definitely think twice before I did that again – mostly because for me, the bird isn’t nearly as important as the rest of the meal.

But, if you’re a committed loca-vore, just make sure you’re ordering early from your local butcher shop or local farm because they go quickly.

Where to Get Your Veggies:

Two years ago, my roommate and I were subscribers to New Roots Organics weekly produce boxes. We strictly monitored the contents of our bin in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving so that we could basically hoard the veggies we needed, and made adjustments and substitutions from there.

Fall is not exactly the right time to start subscribing to a CSA because you’ll be inundated with lots of squash and potatoes and greens, but there are plenty of local produce stands where you can shop. I am particularly fond of McPherson’s Fruit & Produce on Beacon Hill and Rising Sun Produce in Ravenna and Top Banana in Ballard. You can get all the vegetables that you need at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a regular grocery store.

The other great place to buy produce is a local farmers market. Seattle has several year-round markets and a whole slew of seasonal ones, many of which are closed right now but you can look forward to them opening again next spring.

Year-round markets include the Ballard Farmers Market, University District Farmers Market, and the West Seattle Farmers Market. The Broadway Farmers Market is also open through Thanksgiving and closes on 12/23.

Where to Buy Bread:

I think that stuffing is the best part of the Thanksgiving meal, so it’s really important that I use good bread. I’m partial to Grand Central Baking Company‘s bread, and you can find it at most grocery stores. However! I’d actually recommend visiting their bakery/cafes in Pioneer Square or Eastlake for a wider selection, especially if you’re on a quest to find a loaf of brioche.

If you are tasked with bringing a good baguette to the table, I implore you to head over to the Tall Grass Bakery in Ballard, which is my absolute favorite. You’ll want to pick up two or three baguettes because they will be devoured within minutes.

Other safe bets would be the Essential Baking Company (retail locations or in just about any grocery store), the Macrina Bakery or the Dahlia Bakery downtown.

Sausage, Bacon, and other assorted meats:

Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey. Bacon and sausage are just as essential as the bird itself, and totally worth buying the highest quality that you can afford.

When it comes to bacon, I absolutely refuse to buy bacon from a package, unless it’s the giant package of thick-cut bacon that you can get from Cash&Carry. I only buy it from the meat counter at grocery stores, and I prefer to get it from Safeway because it’s fattier and saltier and better than the stuff they have at QFC.

But if you’re on the quest for the best, you’ll visit your local butcher – and for that, I like to go to Rain Shadow Meats because a) close proximity to my apartment, b) I just love the Melrose Market, and c) because the butchers themselves are really attractive. 🙂

Everything Else:

There’s a ton of little things you’ll need for your meal, like nuts and garlic and canned cranberry sauce and other odds and ends. Your most affordable bet is to start at Trader Joe’s and then head to your nearest grocery store for anything you can’t find there. Here in Seattle, we’re lucky to have four Trader Joe’s: Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard and the University District.

Plates, Napkins, Party Supplies:

If you’re going all out, you might as well swing up to Northgate to Display & Costume, the source for all the best party supplies. Seasonal napkins, plates, disposable silverware and other utensils are all right here, along with other items to spruce up your table. Since I don’t have a formal dining room or a dishwasher, I try to save time where I can and therefore disposable dishes are the way to go.

So there you have it – that’s how I throw a Thanksgiving feast! To read about last year’s actual menu and meal, click on over to my personal blog, SarahStuder.com. Otherwise, let me know if I can help answer questions about how to find the best ingredients for your meal and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

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