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5 Steps to a Manageable Thanksgiving Dinner


Opening your home to friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful for even the most seasoned host or hostess. Have no fear, a few simple steps can help break down this daunting dinner and ensure that your meal goes off without a hitch.

Here are a few suggestions, beginning two weeks before Thanksgiving, that can help you end up with a meal that’s everything you want, with far less stress.

Bird is the Word

As the centerpiece of the meal, the turkey is arguably dinner’s most important element. The first decision is whether to purchase a fresh or frozen turkey. If you opt for fresh, be sure to place your order in plenty of time, or your grocer may run out. If you purchase a frozen bird, allow enough time for defrosting: 1 day in the refrigerator per every 4 pounds. Then decide how to prepare your turkey. Options include, brining, frying, smoking, grilling and of course, the traditional oven-cooked turkey. No matter how you cook your turkey, be sure to have enough time for cooking, cooling and carving.

Hit the Grocery Store, Then Do it Again

Opening your home to friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful for even the most seasoned host or hostess. Have no fear, a few simple steps can help break down this daunting dinner and ensure that your meal goes off without a hitch.

Purchasing everything you’ll need at once is unrealistic and can make your head spin. Break the shopping up into two separate trips, the first up to two weeks before Thanksgiving. On round one, tackle all the non-perishables and tools you’ll need. The second trip can be up to two days before Thanksgiving, where you’ll purchase all your fresh ingredients.

The Freezer is Your Friend

Cooking, baking, roasting, sautéing…this is one meal that incorporates almost every culinary skill you have. And, it’s too much for any one person to accomplish in a single day. Luckily, many elements of your meal can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer until Thanksgiving, or the day before. Pie crusts, turkey stock, and soups are perfect candidates for freezing and thawing.

Sharing is Caring

One issue every cook encounters is oven space. It can be difficult to get everything cooked and kept warm to be served at the same time. The best way to overcome this problem is to choose side dishes or desserts that need to be baked at the same temperature and can share oven space. Note that temperatures and bake times may need adjusting when additional items are in the oven.

The Big Day

This is when all of your preparation pays off. Instead of a stressful mess, your kitchen can run like a well-oiled machine. Make sure to have a list of all your dishes so that nothing you worked so hard to create ends up in the back of the refrigerator, forgotten in the oven or left cooling on the counter. Now is the time for finishing touches to desserts, heating up sides and cooking that beautiful bird. One last look to ensure that everything is handled, then enjoy.

Hopefully these tips will help you craft the Thanksgiving dinner of your dreams. And regardless of how the turkey turns out, a house full of family and friends is always enough to be thankful for.

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