We tend to think that most shoppers know exactly what they want for their Thanksgiving feast, and that simply having the available product is what's most critical. While having the available product is certainly important, don't underestimate the impact that you can have with your customers as they prepare for this major food event. Sure, some of your customers will come in knowing exactly what they want and they have been preparing the same meal for years. But, many people are much more wide open to suggestions and uncertain of what they are doing than you might suspect. For these shoppers, the best we can do is to be prepared and have an understanding not only of the product we are selling, but how it can be used in the holiday meal.
Here are also a few preparation tips that can be shared with your customers for three of the most popular produce items leading into Thanksgiving:
Cranberries - Cranberries are one of those items that everyone knows they want to have as part of their meal, but because they are only available for a very small window throughout the year many people simply don't feel very accomplished or confident with this food as they begin to prepare their Thanksgiving meal. A very simple tip that you can pass along to shoppers when preparing cranberry sauce is that rather than cooking the berries using just water, squeeze a few fresh oranges into the mixture to add a richer more fruity flavor. It's best to add sweetening to the sauce after it has cooked. This will help to maintain the tenderness of the skins. You can also remind your customers that it is no coincidence that apple season and cranberry season overlap. Fresh cut apples in cranberry sauce is a very nice addition. Similarly, fresh cranberries added to an apple pie adds a little complexity to the flavor of this popular dessert.
Green Beans - Green beans are a favorite at the Thanksgiving meal. More often than not they tend to end up as part of some type of casserole dish. Nothing against casseroles, but green beans can hold their own quite nicely at this meal as the lead ingredient in their own dish. Some lightly cooked green beans with the added flavor of either almonds or pecans is typically a very refreshing presentation at the Thanksgiving meal. Not only does it offer a relief from some of the more heavier and starchy foods, but the green color of the beans truly stands out well on a plate that is loaded down with the not so colorful likes of turkey, mashed potatoes, and dressing.
Sweet Potatoes - Much like green beans, sweet potatoes often find themselves in the form of a casserole during Thanksgiving. Again, casseroles are wonderful, but it's the versatility of sweet potatoes that is the real feature that it brings to this holiday. Pumpkin pie is the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, and yet, how many people actually make a true pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkins? My understanding is very few. Both the cost and hassle of working with fresh pumpkins has virtually eliminated the "authentic pumpkin pie" from this holiday meal. But no worries, using sweet potatoes as a replacement for pumpkin is an excellent substitute. Most people find that they prefer both the flavor and texture of sweet potato pie over pumpkin as It tends to have a more creamy texture with a richer flavor.
Good luck as you move forward with your holiday preparations!