Turkey Day is right around the corner! As the host of Thanksgiving dinner this year, it is a bittersweet moment. As excited as I am to see everyone, I always feel a little overwhelmed. Luckily the Food Network has a stress-free calendar for Thanksgiving!
Right now, we are almost two weeks away from the big dinner. By this time, you should finalize your guest list. You cannot plan your menu if you do not know how many to plan for! After planning, you must organize your shopping list and compare it with what you already have in your house. If you are opting for a potluck-style for Thanksgiving, make sure your guests know what you want them to bring. Note if you want to order a turkey. You want to get this done as early as possible as they sell out fast in November! If you want a frozen turkey, then you still have time to get one.
With so much to remember on this day, make sure you get drinks done right away! Buy everything early on so that it is less stress for you later. Consider picking a signature beverage that you can make a big batch of with a few of the basics out for guests to help themselves. Include some non-alcoholic options like sparkling water or apple cider for some of the kids! This stops you from playing the bartender on the big day and gives you more time to focus on the turkey.
By next week, you should clean out your freezer. After all, you can’t freeze anything if there’s no room! The most important items to freeze at this point are the pie dough (or the entire pie), homemade stock, and dinner rolls. The pie dough can go in along with the greased tin wrapped in a loose plastic bag and sit until the night before you want to bake it! Homemade stock is the secret ingredient to a good gravy that you tell your family is love. The dinner rolls can be frozen 2 weeks in advance (just make sure they have a moist base of butter, buttermilk, pureed pumpkin or squash) but remember to take them out Thanksgiving morning to thaw. By next week, you should also decide on décor. Centerpieces, wall dressings, and table settings all take time and if you have it planned out beforehand then that is less stress for you!
Next Thursday, buy all the nonperishables on your shopping list that you need. This includes any tableware and serving bowls your dinner requires and even containers for leftovers when the dinner is finished. If need be, create a seating plan for your guests with name cards. Next review your recipes and make sure you have a clear plan of things that should be done on Thanksgiving Day as well as the days leading up to. A good time saver would be to freeze any vegetable soups now (if they do not have cream or eggs). It is also a good time to pick up your turkey no matter whether you preordered or need a frozen turkey.
Fast forward to three days before Thanksgiving and you should be defrosting your turkey. The best place to defrost your turkey is in the coldest part of the fridge. This gives ample time to make sure your turkey will be perfect for the oven.
Two days before, you should be making your cranberry sauce. The Food Network recommends fresh cranberries to increase the flavor of the dish. In addition to this, make sure you have your pies covered. If you have prepped the crusts in the freezer, take them out to defrost. If you have not prepped your pies, make them today and store in the fridge. The same goes for any stock you may have frozen.
The day before Thanksgiving, you will want to get as many sides as you can out of the way. These consist of any sides that can be reheated, like creamed onions or casseroles. Prep for any garnishes, toppings, salad greens, and stuffing ingredients. Additionally, any soups you did not freeze will need to be made and can be refrigerated overnight. If your stuffing calls for stale bread you may want to get that out of the way now by cutting the bread and placing on a drying rack. Lastly, by baking your pies today you are going to save as much time as possible for the big day.
Thanksgiving morning is the perfect time to preheat your oven and get the turkey started! Let any premade bread defrost at room temperature. Chill your wine and beer. Once the turkey is in the oven, prepare the side dishes you have left on your list. After this and the turkey is done, let it sit for5-20 minutes as you finish the gravy, reheat the side dishes, and prep your salads.
After this, you’re all done! Sit and enjoy your feast with the ones you love most.