University of Maine Cooperative Extension has numerous resources to help prepare a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal. 

If turkey is on the menu, UMaine Extension professor and registered dietitian Kathy Savoie suggests planning for 1 to 1½ pounds of turkey per person. This will provide enough for the meal and leftovers for turkey sandwiches or a favorite turkey recipe. Plan on half that amount if other poultry, beef or pork will be served. 

How to safely thaw the turkey is a common question, says Savoie. The length of time it will take to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator depends on its size. Plan on 24 hours per five pounds of frozen turkey. 

Turkey should be cooked to reach an internal temperature of 165 F to kill harmful bacteria. The temperature should be measured in the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 F or colder, within two hours of being cooked. Leftovers should be frozen or used within four days; gravy should be used within two days.

Extension also has simple healthy recipes that use local Maine produce in main dishes, and “Mainely Dish” recipe videos demonstrate a variety of vegetarian recipes or ones that can easily substitute other protein to replace meat. Extension publications for a healthy holiday, including “Helpful Hints for Handling Turkeys for Thanksgiving” and “General Food Safety Tips for Preparing Food” also are featured.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is available 8 a.m.–2 p.m. EST Thanksgiving Day at 1.888.MPHotline (1.888.674.6854) or from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, or chat live at ask.usda.gov.

For more information contact 207.591.3188, [email protected].