When buying a whole turkey, start by determining the size you need to accommodate your meal plans. For large gatherings, opt for a bigger bird, while a smaller turkey works well for intimate dinners. To determine the appropriate amount of whole turkey to buy per person. you’ll want to aim for about 1 to 1.5 pounds (0.45 to 0.68 kilograms) of turkey per person. This estimation accounts for the turkey’s weight pre-cooking and the weight of the inedible part of the turkey (like bones!). It will also ensure that you have enough turkey leftovers!
Check the turkey’s packaging for the sell-by or use-by date to ensure freshness. Look for plumpness and firmness in the meat, and make sure there are no tears or punctures in the packaging that could compromise its integrity.
Once you’ve purchased your turkey, the next step is to ensure you store it safely. Fresh turkey should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower. For whole turkeys, it’s best to keep them in their original packaging or place them in a large resealable bag to prevent any potential leakage. Use or freeze the turkey within 1 to 2 days to maintain optimal freshness. If you plan to use it later, freezing is a fantastic option. Turkey can be safely stored in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below for up to 12 months. Ensure the turkey is well-sealed in freezer-safe packaging to ward off freezer burn.
For information on how to cook your whole turkey, check out Cooking a Whole Turkey