And now we’ve reached the yummy part! It’s finally time to start talking food! We started with a sit down table setting of greens and browns, then laid out a setting for a buffet dinner with soft oranges and blues, and yesterday we gave a few tips on prepping your home and serving the meal.
But today Hallie will talk about pulling together the menu and food!
I love to plan and prep for any meal maybe because I’m a dork like that but the special ones like Thanksgiving are a lot of fun. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s kind of necessary.
Thanksgiving can come with a lot of pressure to get things right but with some planning you can relieve a lot of the stress.
Here’s what I do to prepare for both our big Thanksgiving Day meal that we do with my family and a small gathering I host with Sidney’s side of the family.
1. Set the date and time: With larger families and in-laws, it’s good to set a date especially if it can’t be held Thanksgiving Day.
2.Plan your menu: I usually do this about one month prior. When we get together with our family this year there will be 31 people. That’s just immediate family with a few additions from in-laws and extended family. For one person to do it all, that’s crazy!
About a month out, I send an email to everyone and we can all sign up for what dishes we’d all like to bring. That way we get a good variety and there’s not duplicates. Typically the person hosting doesn’t have many food responsibilities as they have the stress of preparing their home. I highly recommend splitting the responsibility or asking for help!
For our much smaller Thanksgiving with the Moor family we’re replacing the turkey with pork tenderloin and sticking to the classics for the rest. Here’s what we’ll be having:
Herbed Pork Tenderloin
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Sweet potato casserole
Green bean casserole
Know what you feel comfortable handling and ask for help where you need it.
3. Collect your recipes: Call your mom to get the family recipe for dressing or check out new recipes online or in magazines. But always test a new recipe before the big day! Comb through the recipes so you can create your ingredient list.
4.Create a shopping list: Once you create your menu, create your shopping list. I do this for several reasons: 1.) You can take better advantage of sales. 2.) Waiting until the last minute, the stores might have a low supply of the things you need, you know the things that pretty much everyone else is using. 3.) Grocery stores are crazy right before Thanksgiving so getting the bulk of your shopping done first takes away the stress of shopping when everyone else is at the store too. 4.) You might get a free turkey if you spend enough at your grocery store. Be on the lookout starting at the end of October. 5.) If you want a fresh turkey, you typically need to reserve that by the beginning of November.
5. Clean out your fridge: That turkey will take up A LOT of room! Plus all of the extra groceries you’ll probably have. Just makes everything easier!
6. Create a timeline: I think this is one of my biggest stress reducers. I create a timeline with all of the things I want/can get done before the big day. My list includes things like giving the house a deep clean, foods I can prep in advance, and collecting dishes or other things I will need for the big day. Then I can just schedule everything creating a timeline ensuring that it all gets done. And if you’re using a frozen turkey, always allot more time than they say it needs to thaw.
I also make a timeline specifically for Thanksgiving day that tells me what time everything needs to go in the oven, temperature, and cooking time. I start with the time we’re eating and then back up from there. Cooking the turkey I’m always nervous about allotting enough time to thoroughly cook the turkey and finish it early enough to bake off everything else. My timeline is nothing fancy just enough to keep me on track with everything in one place and usually just written on a piece of notebook paper.
7. Use grocery store shortcuts – I love to make things from scratch and I especially think the holidays are the time to do that. BUT taking some shortcuts will help ease your stress especially if you take the right ones. I love fresh baked rolls like my grandmother used to make but making rolls from scratch can be tedious so I like to use frozen dough balls. I use Rhodes brand dough balls, they bake up beautifully and taste delicious like you made them yourself. I also use bags of dried bread cubes for my dressing. I don’t have to cut up bread plus I can get a good mix of breads without buying them individually. Precut veggies in both the freezer and produce sections are another great little shortcut. Frozen cut onions save your eyes! And let’s not forget about refrigerated pie crust. To me, pie crust can be oh so finicky so I reach for a good refrigerated or frozen pie and no one knows the difference.
These are the steps I take to prep before I even start cooking. I hope you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ideas and tips Marianne and I have been sharing this week!
Source List of items we used or similar ones
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