Now that the jack-o-lanterns are recycled and the kids have gone through their candy, it is time to lay out the gourds for Thanksgiving Day. Hosting does not have to be stressful. The secret is all in the planning. Here is a helpful guide to ensure that your meal is a triumph!
3 weeks out:
Decide on a menu. Will you be serving turkey, ham, or something non-traditional? Decide on three side dishes and one flavor of pie. Do not overwhelm yourself with more. If more food is required, delegate some dishes or dessert to guests.
Invite your guests. Is this an extended family meal or more of a friendsgiving? This is the time to give people advance notice. Create a Facebook event or send out an email asking for guests to rsvp. This help you determine how much food you will need to make.
2 weeks out:
Take stock of your kitchen. Besides the normal essentials, make sure you have a roasting pan, nonstick roasting rack, meat thermometer, larger serving dish, gravy boat, carving set, one place setting for each guest, and pots and pans for every dish you plan to cook.
Make a shopping list. If you want to streamline recipes and lists, Paprika is a great app that organizes recipes and creates grocery lists. Separate your list into perishable and nonperishable. Now is the time to order or reserve your turkey. To determine the size that you need, you want 1 pound per guest.
Plan your decorations. Whether it is a simple table runner or full on banners and centerpieces, start deciding what you want to do.
1 week before:
Make room! In the pantry, fridge, and freezer. You will be storing lots of food in the next week and you want to be able to do so easily.
Buy nonperishable groceries. Take your nonperishable list and go shopping. These are things like seasonings, potatoes, onions, canned pumpkin, etc. This also includes paper products, soap, and any other items you may need.
Set a cooking schedule. This gives you a game plan so that you know what to cook and when on the big day. Include things that you can cook ahead of time.
Purchase or make any decorations that you do not already have.
A few days before:
Defrost the turkey. For every pound of turkey, it takes about five hours to defrost. Three days usually does the trick.
Buy perishable foods. Things like vegetables and fruit.
Make piecrust, wrap in plastic, and then refrigerate until you need it.
Chop and prep vegetables. These can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Bread for stuffing can also be toasted or left out overnight.
Bake pies. Fruit and nut pies can be stored at room temperatures and custard pies in the fridge.
Make side dishes. Most are easily reheated. These include stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and rolls.
Set the table. This will save you lots of time.
Roast your turkey. It should take 3-4 hours to cook. Make the gravy after it is done using the pan drippings.
Finish the sides.