As Thanksgiving gets closer, you might be starting to think of how you can start planning for your family dinner. Here, we've complied a quick list of ways you can simplify, plan ahead, and prepare in advance this year:
Be realistic about what you can accomplish within your timeline, how much your refrigerator or oven can hold, how much food you really need, and if you can assign any tasks or dishes to your family and friends (more than likely, they'll be more than happy to help).
Plan your menu. Choose the turkey recipe you want to follow and the side dishes you’d like to have as part of your spread. If you have a few must-have dishes, build the rest of the menu around them. Consider a few dishes that can be enjoyed at room temperature so you don’t have to worry about your hot entrées getting cold. And don’t forget to have some drinks and a few small bites for your guests when then arrive!
Build your shopping list. You can start buying shelf-stable items like chicken stock, canned items, drinks, and longer shelf-life vegetables like potatoes, cranberries, onions, and yams well in advance. You may want to consider getting your turkey a few weeks before if you see a great deal and putting it in your freezer – just be sure to give it time to defrost.
Locate and clean any décor, linens, and cooking tools. If you’re planning to decorate, consider locating all your décor a week or two in advance. Some of your linens and cooking tools may have been sitting in a closet or drawer for almost a year. Assess your food storage containers as well to make sure you have enough to store your leftovers. Pull everything out, dust it off and see if anything needs replacing so you can shop for new items if needed.
Start cooking ahead of time. Many of the dishes on your menu can be made or at least prepped in advance. Here’s a list of things you can do in advance: