According to Food and Wine the key to pulling off the biggest meal of the year (and actually enjoying it) is to start checking things off your to-do list now.
Their full check-list actually started in October. You can see the whole list here – but if you think if will just give you anxiety, just use my shortened list.
Thanksgiving Planning Tips
Sunday, November 19: Pick up your turkey and perishable items.
This is also a good time to make sure you’re ready for the day after Thanksgiving. Pick up all the fixings you’ll need for that epic leftover sandwich.
Monday, November 20: Ready your turkey and bakeware
Defrost your turkey (if frozen) and your frozen prepped items (stock, gravy, pie crust) in the refrigerator. Allow at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey.
Make your brine. Do this well in advance so that it has time to chill before you add your turkey.
Lay out your platters and baking dishes. Label each dish with which food will be going in or on it. If you can, do this where your buffet will be to make sure everything fits.
This is also a good time to dry out bread for your stuffing.
Tuesday, November 21: Prep and chill.
Pick up the items for your centerpiece (flowers, gourds, nuts, etc..). Check out this terrific tutorial from Inspired by Charm for Fall Colorblock Cork Table Decor. I love that it’s both decorative and functional.
Chill the wine and beer. If you have an extra refrigerator or cooler, load it up with your beverages.
Start prepping your side dishes and desserts. Wash and dry the lettuce for your salad, make your vinaigrette, sauté the vegetables for your stuffing, stamp out your biscuits and store them in the freezer.
Wednesday, November 22: Clean and do some final make-ahead prep.
Brine your Turkey. To minimize cleanup, line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag.
Finish your make-ahead sides and appetizers. Assemble your stuffing, make your soup, mix your cranberry sauce – you can even make your mashed potatoes.
Set your table and buffet. Make your arrangements and lay out table runners, napkins, silverware, candles and place cards.
Finish spot-cleaning the house – leave the kitchen for last.
Thursday, November 23: THE BIG DAY
You’ve done the hard work, now follow your hour-to-hour cooking schedule. Here’s a great example from Cook’s Illustrated.
Friday, November 24:
Sleep in and take the day off. Make yourself an epic Turkey sandwich or try this recipe from Real Food by Dad for a Waffled Stuffing Turkey Sandwich.
I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!