Have you ever found yourself in the grocery store, starring at the turkeys, and wondering if I should buy one now or wait.
Frozen turkeys really aren’t the issue as most of us would just throw them into a freezer. But what about the fresh turkeys?
Is there such a thing as it being too early to buy a fresh turkey?
We got the answer for you today in our latest Thanksgiving Q&A post.
How Far In Advance to Buy a Fresh Turkey?
So you have decided that you want to go with a fresh turkey this year. You may be wondering how long does a fresh turkey keep, especially if you are use to a frozen turkey that you just defrost and then cook immediately. It won’t last indefinitely. You need to treat it as you would any other poultry.
A fresh turkey should have a sell by date on it. Fresh turkeys tend to arrive at stores the weekend that is before the weekend that is before Thanksgiving – in other words just under 2 weeks from Thanksgiving Day. I have always found that those turkeys had a sell by date that was at least a couple days past Thanksgiving. In most cases any fresh turkey you buy in the store will be ok to buy when your ready and store in your fridge til Thanksgiving.
When I asked a couple of my favorite turkey farms their thoughts on the manner was a bit more conservative. The general consensus was that a fresh turkey bought in the store should be cooked within 3 to 5 days. Now if you buy your turkey directly from the source you have a lot more time, up to 10 days.
I would say that it’s ok to buy the fresh turkey the moment you see them in the stores as long as the sell by date is after Thanksgiving and it should be. It might be better to wait until a week before if you can, to at very least save on fridge space. There are plenty of turkeys in store the Thursday or Friday before. Once the weekend hits, people start hitting up the stores and selection goes down.
❔ Want to know what other Thanksgiving ingredients you can buy in advance? And how you can get easy to shop with checklists? Check out our Guide to Low Stress Thanksgiving Shopping.
Shorter Shelf Life at the Store
The reason the grocery store turkey has a shorter shelf life, is that takes time to get from farm to store. The turkey probably had to go through the store’s distribution center before it even arrived at the store. Then it has to make it out to the sales floor.
I haven’t yet myself but I would love one of these years to get my turkey directly from the farmer and skip the middle man.
Stores Can Reserve a Turkey
A lot of stores will reserve a turkey for you so that you can be guaranteed to get what you want and when you want it. If you want to get it the day before, I would recommend reserving it. Even if it’s past their deadlines you can still call a store and ask them what they have in stock and see if they will set something aside for you. Any store with good customer service should be more than willing to help.