Your Healthy Thanksgiving Meal Planner


By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

Need a healthy Thanksgiving meal planner? You're in luck! This Thanksgiving menu planner is full of healthy Thanksgiving recipes and nutritious Thanksgiving dishes.


The Thanksgiving countdown is officially here. What to make for Thanksgiving dinner? Here's a Thanksgiving meal planner just for you! No matter who is coming over for the meal, this Thanksgiving planner features ideas that'll make everyone's taste buds happy.


Shopping malls and grocery stores may have started playing Christmas music long before Halloween, but we can't forget about my all-time favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. Every year, I can't wait to gather around one humongous, delicious meal with my family and close friends. This year, of course, things are going to be a little differentand we'll likely be having one big Zoom meal.


If you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, even if it's just for your immediate family, you might already be thinking about your menu and shopping list for Thanksgiving Day.


Pretty soon, it will be time to get down to business—including picking out the decór for your Thanksgiving table, cleaning up the dining space, and (most importantly!) crafting a menu that will satisfy everyone at the table. 


There's a simple way you can feel great this season—and you don't have to skimp on pumpkin pie or miss out on the mashed potatoes and gravy. Ready to hear my top secrets for a healthier Thanksgiving?     

Psst...need get-on-track meal ideas for the days after Thanksgiving? Give my mix-and-match easy, healthy meal ideas a once over.


Want healthy Thanksgiving recipes? This list of Thanksgiving food, from Thanksgiving appetizers to Thanksgiving dessert, will help be your go-to Thanksgiving menu planner! #thanksgiving #turkeyday #vegetarian #vegan #nutrition #plantbased

Healthy Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

If you're feeling a little lost about entrée options for your picky eaters or are tired of your go-to dessert, don't worry. You can still have a stress-free Thanksgiving.


I'm sharing my epic healthy Thanksgiving meal planner that's bursting with healthy recipes that are fit for any Thanksgiving meal, plus vegan ideas for your plant-based eaters as well as the cutest appetizer to put together with the kiddos. All in all, you're getting nearly 70 recipes to look to for Turkey Day dinner inspiration. 'Tis the season to be giving! 


Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Ever since I can remember, my parents, sister, and I have gathered with 30 or so of our closest family friends to have a gigantic family dinner together. 


Are you as excited about Thanksgiving as I am? I love everything about the day, from spending time with family and friends to traditions–a pre-dinner football game and a post-dinner Scattergories game is big in my family!–to favorite foods. 


By the way, many of these ideas will make fantastic cooking projects for kids!

Dietitian Ideas for Healthy Thanksgiving Dishes

Vegetarians? Check. Kids? Check. Dessert fans? Check. In my ultimate Turkey Day recipe list, you'll find dishes created by my dietitian pals that will be loved by everyone and go great with a Thanksgiving turkey, no matter their dietary preferences or tastebuds.


Don't forget to get the whole family involved in the cooking process—you'll not only receive much-needed help, you'll also get extra bonding time with your loved ones.


Whether you pass the turkey or pass on the turkey (like me!), there are many ways to stay healthy and avoid the super-stuffed feeling this week.


Ready to eat a healthy Thanksgiving meal? Hosting a healthy party, or simply a dinner guest? Either way, I've got tips to help you stay at the top of your nutrition game. May you nurture yourself and your loved ones as you find your reasons to celebrate this holiday.


Now, go ahead and try these healthy Thanksgiving recipes from my dietitian friends, including tips for healthy side dishes and more.

LIGHTEN UP Mashed Potatoes

“To give mashed potatoes a boost of nutrition, I like to use a combination of half yellow potatoes with skin left on and half sweet potatoes," says Amber Ketchum, MDS, RD, owner of Homemade Nutrition.


"Yellow or Yukon gold potatoes have a thinner skin that mashes very well, so you can keep more of the fiber and nutrients—and the sweet potato adds more fiber, vitamin A, and a pretty hint of orange color to the potatoes." You can also skip the sour cream!

LIGHTEN UP Sweet Potatoes

Instead of marshmallows or loads of brown sugar, add cinnamon and crushed or diced fresh pineapple to your sweet potatoes," says Heather Mason, MS, RD, nutrition blogger at Nutty Nutrition and Fitness. "You will get a burst of flavor, more vitamin C and antioxidants, and less added sugar."

LIGHTEN UP Meat or Poultry

Keep your main course lean. Roasted turkey and pork tenderloin are leaner meat choices," says Kristen Smith, RD, founder of 360 Family Nutrition. "Skip the fryer, and flavor your main course with fresh herbs, garlic, onion, or your favorite vinegar."

LIGHTEN UP Pumpkin Pie

Try making pumpkin pie crustless and individually sized for portion control," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club"My recipe does this and is only 68 calories per serving."


When baking, sub some of the fat source with yogurt!" says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, co-author of Fertility Foods. "I love this trick and just whipped up these mini Bundt cakes.”

Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Since most of us are in a chipper mood during the holiday season, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get family members to try foods out of their comfort zone, including vegan dishes.


In my article for The Healthy, I rounded up a dozen dietitian-approved vegan sides and mains that will satisfy even your meat-loving uncle. Make sure everyone gets a scoop of the lentil stuffing—it doesn't disappoint!


And while there are lots and lots of yummy sides at Thanksgiving, vegetarians like me often get forgotten about in the protein department.


Protein is what helps fill you up and keep you from noshing and noshing. Here are a few protein-filled vegetarian dishes–including one of mine–to inspire your holiday menu, via Aaptiv.com. Ready to eat a healthy Thanksgiving meal?


Want healthy Thanksgiving recipes? This list of Thanksgiving food, from Thanksgiving appetizers to Thanksgiving dessert, will help be your go-to Thanksgiving menu planner! #thanksgiving #turkeyday #vegetarian #vegan #nutrition #plantbased

Nutritionist Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving


As much as I love the holiday and the food that comes with it, I’m always looking for ways to not feel like an over-stuffed turkey. My favorite tip is to put out (and eat) lots of veggies before the food comes out.


Last year, my mom and I made a veggie-filled crudité platter in the shape of a turkey. I went to my dietitian colleagues to get their best tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving, too.

1. Pre-Plan Your Plate

This is a trick I learned when on Weight Watchers about 15 to 20 years ago,” says Elana Natker, MS, RD a dietitian in Washington, DC. “Sometime before Thanksgiving, take a paper plate and draw out what you plan to put on it.


"It doesn't need to be pretty, but approximate how much of the plate you'll give to turkey and stuffing—whatever your favorites are. Make a smaller plate for dessert if you choose. It may not totally prevent overeating, but it helps to go into Thanksgiving with a plan.”

2. Don’t Starve Yourself Beforehand

“Eat regularly,” says Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, author of Total Body Diet for Dummies. “Stick with a regular schedule of eating by not skipping meals or snacks so you are not starving when the Thanksgiving meal comes.”

3. Choose Seasonal Foods

“Don't waste calories on foods you can have anytime, like a white roll with butter and potato chips, when there are seasonal foods, such as eggnog and turkey stuffing, to be had,” says Elizabeth Ward, RD, author of Expect the Best.

4. Keep MyPlate in Mind

“Fill half your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with lean protein, and a quarter of your plate with whole grains and starchy vegetables for a balanced holiday dinner plate,” says Julie Harrington, RD, co-author of The Healing Soup CookbookIdeas for non-starchy veggies include green beans, butternut squash, roasted cauliflower, roasted beets, and Brussels sprouts.

5. Build in a Workout

“Be a good guest by getting up and helping to do dishes between courses,” suggests Mandy Enright, RD, creator of the couples’ nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials. “Some movement will stimulate the digestive system and prevent meals from feeling like a brick in the stomach.”

6. Use the Three-Bite Rule for Dessert

The first bite is the best, the last is the last, and each bite in between is the same,” says Harris-Pincus. Stick to three, enjoy each one, and then pop a piece of gum or a mint in your mouth to cleanse the palate.”

7. Store Leftovers Smartly

“After the Thanksgiving meal, portion out leftovers into lunch or dinner portions and freeze them to be used when you need a quick ready meal,” suggests Rahaf Al BochiRD, a certified diabetes educator in Atlanta.


Want healthy Thanksgiving recipes? This list of Thanksgiving food, from Thanksgiving appetizers to Thanksgiving dessert, will help be your go-to Thanksgiving menu planner! #thanksgiving #turkeyday #vegetarian #vegan #nutrition #plantbased

Amy's Thanksgiving Recipe to Try


Make this recipe: Turkey Veggie Platter!


While you're busy whipping up the main meal from my recipe list, keep the kids occupied with this veggie platter. My holiday snack platter is a fun and veggie-filled way to get your turkey fix this Thanksgiving.


Think outside the box to get everyone involved with cooking and eating healthy. My mom and I make a variation of this veggie turkey every year. It's a fun appetizer that also offers up a great way to get the kids involved with the cooking.


The appetizer-slash-work-of-art spotlights some of my favorite healthy finger foods (ahem, carrots!) land can be put together in less than 30 minutes. Instead of ranch, serve the platter with a bowl of this veggie yogurt dip that's packed with protein and flavor. 


Here are more ideas for healthy Thanksgiving recipes, too!


This blog post was updated in October 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.


Want healthy Thanksgiving recipes? This list of Thanksgiving food, from Thanksgiving appetizers to Thanksgiving dessert, will help be your go-to Thanksgiving menu planner! #thanksgiving #turkeyday #vegetarian #vegan #nutrition #plantbased


Find this post helpful? At no additional cost to you, support the maintenance of running this site by using my Amazon affiliate links to shop. This blog post may contain affiliate links. Thank you!


I'd love to hear from you! What's your favorite healthy Thanksgiving meal? What else would you add to a healthy Thanksgiving menu?


Comment below, or tag @amydgorin on Instagram and Pinterest and @amygorin on Twitter and Facebook.


Don't forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to get updates delivered straight to your inbox! Also download my free plant-based grocery list and meal plan.


Want to go shopping with a dietitian? Here's your chance! I just opened up my very own storefront, full of my fave tip sheets, cookbooks, kitchen products, and more! 


Also check out my Etsy shop! Use code 10PERCENT for 10% off!