Thanksgiving can be a stressful occasion that involves a lot of last-minute trips to the grocery and maybe even some burnt turkey.
Avoid all this hassle and learn how to do your Thanksgiving prep the right way with our quick and easy-to-follow guide below.
Thanksgiving Prep | 9 Things to Remember to Celebrate a Hassle-Free Thanksgiving
1. Go Through Your Recipes
Recipes, in many ways, are similar to song lyrics. You believe you know them until it’s time to start singing.
While you can hum your way through forgotten song lyrics, the same can’t be said for your recipes. This is why it is important to review them beforehand.
Make sure that you have everything you need for the occasion at least 3 days before it comes. Come up with a list of ingredients that you’ll need to pick up on your trip to the grocery.
This should help you avoid having to send your significant other out on a panicked run to the grocery for some already hard-to-find items.
Additionally, make sure to buy only enough food that you know you will finish. This will help you not only reduce waste but also save money.
2. Make a Shopping List
With all your missing ingredients now on your shopping list, check out any other items you might need to pick up on your next grocery trip.
Double-check the items you already have and make sure that they are not already expired. Additionally, go through other non-food items you might need for the occasion such as napkins or silverware.
Once your list is complete, you’re all set to go to the grocery and get those Thanksgiving goodies.
3. Prepare Your Kitchen
Nope, this is not simply to impress your guests and show them that you keep a clean house. Having an organized kitchen means you’ll also be able to execute your recipes more smoothly.
With the turkey being the centerpiece of the occasion, a good place to start is the oven. Make sure that it is clean to allow it to cook your food more evenly. By doing this, you’ll also be able to avoid having foul-smelling smoke coming out of it as leftover food from the past starts burning.
Once you are done with the oven, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Line up any cookware and bakeware you might need before you begin.
This simple step just might spell the difference between the perfectly cooked turkey and mashed potatoes versus one that took a few minutes too late to bring out of the oven.
4. Design Your Table for the Occasion
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays in the US. As such, it is perfectly natural to want everything to look spick and span.
If you’re planning on using a special set of plates and silverware, get them all out and make sure they are complete. The same goes for the rest of the table.
Use a centerpiece that is fit for the occasion, and choose a tablecloth that will match it. Use flowers that will complement the design of your table, and make sure those napkins are folded cunningly.
Make sure to do these things ahead of time, as changing tablecloths and folding napkins are not exactly the easiest things to do. Just remember that the decision to do this is all or nothing.
If they are too much of a hassle, it’s better to keep your table simple but neat instead of it looking half-baked.
5. Perfect Your Turkey
Now for the centerpiece of it all: the turkey! While you might already know the basics of how to cook turkey, here are a few tips you should keep in mind to really take your turkey to the next level:
- Turkey takes a long time to thaw. Thawing it in cold water may take around 30 minutes for every pound, and a day for every pound if you that it in the refrigerator.
- When buying a turkey, the bird usually comes with the neck, liver, heart, and gizzards stuffed inside. Take this packet out before cooking the bird. Leaving it in is simply a mistake many newbies make. Instead, use those parts for making gravy and stuffing.
- The breast of the turkey tends to cook faster compared to the dark meat on the thighs and legs of the bird. To keep it moist, cover that part with foil and remove it occasionally to baste the turkey.
- Stuffing the bird before cooking it may sound like fun, but it is not always the safest way to go. Instead, you may want to cook the dressing in the oven separately.
- If you’re serving a large crowd, you may want to opt for two or more smaller turkeys instead of one big bird. Larger turkeys are a bit more difficult to cook.
6. Don’t Forget Your Gravy
Turkey just isn’t complete without the gravy to top it off with. Luckily, making it doesn’t have to be complicated.
There are a million turkey gravy recipes that do not need to use the actual turkey parts. If you do plan on using them, however, make sure to have the necessary preparations. Using the bird parts is a preference of many as it helps boost the gravy’s flavor.
If you decide to go with this option, make sure to whip your gravy up two days before the occasion. When it is ready, refrigerate it until such time that you have to use it already.
On Thanksgiving, reheat the gravy in a saucepan and pour over the sliced turkey.
7. Make the Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the perfect dish to pair with that turkey. If you are on top of your game, you can peel regular and sweet potatoes a day before Thanksgiving. Just make sure to cover them in cold water and store them in the fridge.
While your turkey is resting in the oven the following day, bring them out, boil them, and mash them on the stovetop. Add some butter and maybe give it a twist by adding some mix-ins.
8. Whip Up Some Dessert
If you’re cooking for your extended family, baking can be a little time-consuming. Make your desserts ahead of time so you don’t have to panic last minute.
Go easy on yourself and make some pie dough about a week before the occasion. Portion them into disks before freezing. Two days before the occasion, move them into the fridge to defrost before baking up a storm on the eve of Thanksgiving.
You can refrigerate custard and pumpkin pies overnight. Apple and pecan pies, on the other hand, are best kept at room temperature.
If any of your desserts need reheating, just pop them in the oven while the table is being cleared for dessert. In any case, just make sure not to leave your desserts to be made on the day of the occasion.
9. Concoct Your Drinks
Finally, as important as any aspect of your Thanksgiving prep, the drinks! No Thanksgiving feast is complete without a few bottles of wine popped open.
Make sure to stick those bottles that need chilling in the fridge the night before. If you live somewhere cold, leave them in the back porch or garage to save on space.
You can also pass the drinks duty to a guest. It’s not only a way to clear up your schedule, but it also gives the guests something fun to do.
Ending the day with a glass of wine in hand is the perfect way to celebrate all your hard work preparing for Thanksgiving.
For the unprepared, Thanksgiving can be a lot of hassle to get ready for. In fact, a lot of people find the task overwhelming. With the tips above, however, Thanksgiving prep doesn’t just become easy, it also becomes fun and even exciting to do.
Do you have other tips on how to prepare for thanksgiving? Share them with us in the comments section below!