10 Foods That Should Be on Your List for a True Thanksgiving Meal

When’s the last time you told your friends and family that you love them?

Have you thought lately about how awesome it is that you have a roof over your head (a place to live) and good food to eat?

Sometimes we forget to feel lucky and thankful for all the people in our lives, and all things we have. That’s called taking things for granted. The Thanksgiving holiday is a day when we can remember all the things we take for granted on other days, and are thankful for them.

Thanksgiving is also a day when we eat a lot of food, so we’re going to look at the 10 most common foods to eat on Thanksgiving.

There’s no better way to feel great about the things you have than to eat lots of good food with friends and family!

What Is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November every year. When the holiday was first created many years ago, it was meant to celebrate the last harvest, the time when crops (plants) and grown food is collected from the fields.

Many Americans know the holiday better for an old story though: In 1621, the pilgrims (the people who were living in Northeastern America at the time) and the Native Americans had a three-day celebration where they ate together in peace. The two groups of people had worked together, and the feast (big celebratory meal) was a way to share and enjoy the harvest together.

Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but slightly earlier than Americans. Canadian Thanksgiving is on the first Monday of October every year. Canada was actually the first country to celebrate the festival of giving thanks, which was started by Martin Frobisher in 1578 after he returned safely from an exploration trip.

Today, Thanksgiving has a slightly different meaning for people. For many Americans and Canadians, Thanksgiving is for spending time with their family, and to remember to be thankful for what they have.

Thanksgiving is also a time to eat… a lot! There are a number of traditional foods that are served on Thanksgiving, and it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.

10 Different Ways to Say “to Eat” in English

The Thanksgiving feast is huge! To enjoy your meal, you can’t just eat it—you might need to use some more descriptive English words for eating!

Before you start eating, you should try a nibble of your food. That’s just a little bite to get a taste of the food in front of you before you dig in, or start eating.

When you eat your food, you could say you ingest it—but that’s a word often used by scientists. When you eat your meal very fast you, can say you devoured it.

When it comes to eating, no one does it as well as animals! When you eat a lot of food very quickly, you can say you gobble up your food (gobble is the sound turkeys make)! You can also wolf down your food (eat it quickly in big pieces), or pig out on it (eat too much).

When you finish the meal, you can say you have polished it off or cleaned your plate.

Is all this talk of eating getting you hungry?

10 Traditional Foods for a True Thanksgiving Meal

1. Turkey

thanksgiving list of foods

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the turkey. The turkey is usually prepared whole, filled with fruit, vegetables or other stuffing (more on stuffing in #2!). It’s also usually seasoned, which means covered in herbs for flavor and smell.

The turkey is then roasted, meaning cooked in an oven or over an open fire. The best roasted turkeys are juicy and delicious, but roasting a turkey takes skill. The turkey is notorious (well known for something negative) for being dry.

2. Stuffing/Dressing

thanksgiving list of foods

“Stuff” is another way to say “things.” But the verb to stuff means that you fill something until it’s full. Thanksgiving stuffing (also called dressing) is the food that goes inside the roasted turkey.

But it’s also become a side dish, a dish of food that’s served next to the main course. Traditionally, Thanksgiving stuffing is made of bread and herbs, and sometimes sausage (a kind of hot dog) or other additional ingredients. Check out some stuffing/dressing recipes here!

3. Mashed Potatoes

thanksgiving list of foods

Mashed potatoes are potatoes that have been boiled and peeled, and then crushed (mashed) into a soft and creamy dish. Add butter, milk and some garlic, and you have a perfect dish!

4. Gravy

thanksgiving list of foods

While you’re cooking the turkey (or many other meats), it will create juices. These juices can be turned into gravy, a thick sauce. This sauce is usually poured onto the mashed potatoes to give them more flavor.

5. Cranberry Sauce

thanksgiving list of foods

There is something about the sweet but tangy (slightly sour) flavor of cranberry sauce that makes it the perfect side dish for turkey. There are plenty of places that sell cranberry sauce, but it’s very easy to make on your own as well.

To make cranberry sauce, boil cranberries, sugar, lemon zest (grated lemon peel) and water, and then simmer it (cook on a small flame). That’s all you need to do!

6. Corn

thanksgiving list of foods

Bread rolls are another staple (an important part) of the Thanksgiving meal. Many times, these rolls are cornbread, which is made with cornmeal, a powder from dried and ground corn.

Corn is served in other ways at Thanksgiving, too. You might eat corn on the cob, which is grilled whole corn, or creamed corn, which is mashed corn soup or sauce.

7. Green Bean Casserole

thanksgiving list of foods

A casserole is a stew that’s cooked slowly in the oven. Green bean casserole has cream of mushroom soup, fried onions and— of course—green beans!

8. Candied Yams

thanksgiving list of foods

Sweet potatoes are yellow, creamy types of potatoes that are also called yams. The sweet flavor and soft texture of these potatoes make them a versatile (easy to use in many situations) side dish for the main course.

You can bake them, make a casserole with them or mash them like regular potatoes. Or you can add spices, brown sugar and butter, place marshmallows on top and bake them into candied yams—a deliciously sweet dish which might remind you of (make you think of) candy, like the name suggests.

9. Pumpkin Pie

thanksgiving list of foods

The pumpkin spice flavor in America now means that autumn is here. Almost everything has a pumpkin spice version! There’s pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice cookies… there are even pumpkin spice sausages and bagels!

Surprisingly, the flavor doesn’t even have actual pumpkin in it. But pumpkin pie does have pumpkin. A delicious warm spice and pumpkin filling inside a flaky crust will always warm you up. No wonder we love pumpkin spice so much in fall!

10. Pecan Pie

thanksgiving list of foods

Complete the meal with a delectable (delicious) pecan pie, a pie that uses pecans (a type of nut) with spices and maple syrup. Pecan pie is irresistible (hard to say no to). Even if guests are too full to eat any more, they’ll make room for pecan pie!

Vocabulary After the Thanksgiving Meal

Now that you’re done eating, you can forget about the holiday, right? Not quite!

The Thanksgiving meal is so large that for many days after the dinner, people have leftovers—extra food that is left (remains) after the dinner is done.

Even though there are leftovers, a lot of food is also eaten on the holiday. Many people eat so much on Thanksgiving that they feel the need to detox afterwards—to remove toxins or bad substances from the body.

The day after Thanksgiving is another famous day, known as Black Friday. On Black Friday, stores across the country have huge sales where people wait in line for hours to buy cheap products (usually for Christmas gifts).

Are you too full to go out the day after Thanksgiving? Just wait until the Monday after, which is now known as Cyber Monday, when stores move their sales to the internet.


You don’t have to live in America or Canada to enjoy Thanksgiving. All you need is a lot of food, an empty belly (stomach) and some family and/or friends. Remember to give thanks for all that you have!

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