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Here's Exactly How Many Bags of Green Beans You'll Need for Thanksgiving DInner

When it comes to eating produce, dietitians may argue that more is more—but when you find yourself in the grocery aisle wondering how many green beans to buy per person, there’s a way to ensure you’re not left eating leftovers for days. 

Although there’s no hard-and-fast rule to predict exactly how hungry your guests will be, this formula should get you through the farmer’s market or grocery store with confidence that you’ve got it right: Assume that one serving of green beans is about one cup, or 5 oz, with about 12 to 13 green beans per cup, according to recipe Julie Hartigan of Cooking With Julie. Assuming one pound of green beans contains 35 to 40 pieces and yields about 3 cups of chopped beans, you’ll need about one pound for a party of three, assuming you’re making roasted, steamed, or sauteed green beans.

Related: 24 Best Green Bean Recipes 

How to estimate how many green beans you need per person

Don’t have time to count or measure? You can safely estimate that one handful of green beans will serve one person, or two people if you have other green sides, Hartigan says.

While these calculations seem straightforward, the full breadth of your menu could reduce the IRL size of each serving—after all, there’s only so much room on one plate. “When alternative sides are plentiful, assume guests will eat a little less of each and one pound will serve four people,” Hartigan says. “And if vegetarians outnumber carnivores at your table, assume your green beans will go fast and assume that one pound will serve two people.”

Related: 100+ Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

What to do if you don’t buy enough green beans per person

If you ever buy too few green beans or get an extra unexpected guest and need to stretch your servings, Hartigan recommends bulking up what you’ve got by sauteing the green beans with mushrooms, which can be served over a bed of greens and topped with a dijon vinaigrette.

What to do if you buy too many green beans per person

Just remember that more is more when it comes to green things—especially green beans, which can be frozen to add to soups and stirfrys later on, tossed into a Nicoise salad, scrambled with eggs, or served as a side with literally anything should you be so lucky to have leftovers.

How many green beans do you need per person for green bean casserole? 

It’s a valid question: “Your best bet is to use the recipe serving size and the number of green beans it calls for,” Hartigan advises. In other words, forgo the estimations above and stick to the recipe’s ingredient list.

Related: 70+ Best Casserole Recipes

But seriously, don’t stress

If your desire to serve perfectly-sized portions keeps you up at night, and you’d prefer to be more precise, consider pre-plating meals rather than inviting your guests to self-serve—it’s a surefire way to make sure the amount you make stretches to every plate. Bonus: This gives you the chance to flex your presentation skills with Pinterest-perfect personal platters. #GreenBeanGoals!


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