Skip to Content

How to make Thanksgiving food baskets for needy families

Want to donate a Thanksgiving food basket for a needy family in your town? Here is what to put in a Thanksgiving gift basket for a family in need!

Thanksgiving is a time to really reflect on everything in your life that you have to be thankful for.

Some years are more abundant than others. If you have had a good year, consider sharing that blessing this Thanksgiving by creating a Thanksgiving food basket to donate.

One of the most important parts of this season is gratitude. Small gestures of kindness, like donating a food basket, can make a significant impact on someone’s life.

Hoping to receive a Thanksgiving food basket this year? Here’s my list of the best Thanksgiving food assistance programs!

What type of basket to use

You can use anything from a cardboard box to a nicer basket for your Thanksgiving basket. I think that something large and re-usable – like a laundry basket – is really nice and practical.

what to put in thanksgiving food baskets for needy families

What to include in a Thanksgiving food basket

If possible, try to connect with the family that will receive your basket to find out their specific likes and dislikes. However, that is often not possible.

It also can be helpful to find out if the recipients will have access to an oven and stove or a more limited kitchen set up.

So, you will want to just try to provide a balanced Thanksgiving meal. This would include a meat, starches, vegetables, desert, and drinks.

Thanksgiving food basket list:

  • Canned ham or cooked ham
  • Canned green beans
  • Can french onion soup
  • Crispy onion toppers
  • Canned yams
  • Instant potatoes
  • Bag of marshmallows
  • Canned corn
  • Canned cranberry sauce
  • Corn bread mix
  • Box stuffing mix
  • Canned or packet of gravy
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Cake or cookie mix
  • Tea or lemonade mix
  • Hot chocolate or coffee

Other nice things to add:

Do not include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Anything fresh that could spoil if left out for 24 hours
  • Anything homemade
  • Common allergens like peanuts
  • Frozen food

Nutritional Considerations

While nobody is 100% healthy on Thanksgiving, it is good to include some healthier options in your Thanksgiving basket!

This can include whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Consider including low-sodium or no-sugar-added options for canned goods.

You never know who will receive your basket and the dietary needs they might have. Including some healthier options can be a great way to make your basket more inclusive and useful to the whole family!

Recipes and Cooking Instructions

Many families will have their own Thanksgiving traditions and recipes to follow. But, if you are including any specific ingredients for a special dish, consider including a simple recipe.

Provide easy-to-follow recipes for preparing dishes using the items in the food basket. Just be sure to include all of the ingredients needed – even staple items like oil or salt.

Since some families might not have access to an oven, stick to suggestions for stovetop or microwave-friendly recipes.

Where to take your Thanksgiving baskets for the needy

I suggest calling your local food bank to see if they accept food baskets. Do this in advance to be sure that you comply with any of their rules or requirements.

If they won’t take single baskets, they will likely be able to connect you to an organization that would be happy to have your food box.

You can reach out to religious organizations or a school counselor to see if they know of a family in need of a Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Before you go…

Be sure to check out my list of Christmas assistance programs, too! These are great organizations to donate your time or resources to this holiday season.

Thanks for reading!

celebrating with kids about us image

Sharing is caring!

```` ````