Thanksgiving Planning Simplified

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with friends and family, warmth, and tradition. As such, hosting Thanksgiving is a big deal with plenty of expectations. Whether your guest list is large or small, the ultimate goal is to present a beautiful and delicious holiday meal for your guests. With some simple tips, everyone can enjoy a seamless and fun holiday meal.

Planning details in advance and staying organized is the key to success. Get out the pen and paper, computer, iPad, calendar, or whatever tools you need to get organized. After the guest list is firmed up and a time is set, start on your menu.

Start planning your menu 2-3 weeks before the holiday. Pull out any recipes and put them in a folder or notebook with any notes you may have.

  • When your guests ask, “What should I bring?” – be honest!  Anything that takes something off your plate should be a welcome addition.
    • Make two shopping lists. The 1st list should include all the nonperishable items that can be purchased in advance. The 2nd list will include all the fresh items for the pre-holiday shop.
    • When menu planning, consider things like oven space, foods that need to be heated on the stovetop or warmed up in the microwave. Think ahead! If someone is bringing potatoes, perhaps the dish can be warmed up in advance and delivered in a crockpot.
    • Picking the right turkey is key. There is no significant difference in quality between a fresh or frozen turkey. Regardless, make sure your refrigerator or freezer can store the bird. Also, check to see if your oven is large enough to cook the turkey in the appropriate pan.
      • When considering turkey size, the rule of thumb is to allow 1 pound of turkey per person, give or take.
      • If purchasing a frozen turkey, keep in mind a whole turkey requires about 24 hours per five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. In other words, a 20-pound turkey will need at least 4 days to defrost.
      • Fresh turkeys should be purchased just a day or two prior to the holiday.
    • STOP and BREATH. If planning your menu is getting overwhelming, consider the holiday menu at McCaffrey’s Market. Order a full dinner, or maybe just some sides to supplement your meal. Ask about catering options by calling 800-717-7174 or click here for our holiday menu selections!

Keep calm during the Pre-Thanksgiving period. Make a list and check things off one at a time, little by little, all week long.

  • Setting the table in advance will lighten the load once the cooking marathon begins. Don’t forget place cards, if using.
  • Pull out serving platters and note what food will be served in each dish. Grab the serving utensils too!
  • If you notice you are missing something, don’t fret. You still have time to purchase or borrow what you need.

Start preparing food 2-3 days prior to the big day.

  • Cut the onions and celery and measure out the spices for this Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe. This Cranberry Sauce can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator in advance of the holiday.
  • If you are a baker, jump on this lightened up Pumpkin Pie recipe. If Apple Pie is your thing, don’t miss this single crust pie filled with apples and cinnamon.
  • Make side dishes like Butternut Squash Gratin that can be cooked in advance and heated up on Thanksgiving day.
  • Or get appetizers ready to go, like this Garlic Hummus dip.

On Thanksgiving Day, have an outline of everything that will be served and when it needs to go in the oven. Include everything from that first appetizer to that last cup of coffee.

  • Thanksgiving is usually all about the Turkey. Remember, the bird requires about 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey to fully cook. The turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 165º F. If you do not have a meat thermometer, pick one up at McCaffrey’s. The turkey also requires a “rest” period of 15- 20 minutes prior to carving. Use this time for heating up sides and getting all the food ready to go.

Yes, preparing Thanksgiving is no easy task. Make your meal as hassle free as possible by planning ahead. Once dinner is on the table, it is time for everyone to sit down and enjoy the feast. Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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