If you’re planning to host Thanksgiving dinner this year it’s never too early to start preparing! With proper planning you can glide through the day with relative ease and actually enjoy time with family and friends.
Know your menu. I’m still a pen and paper person, but you can use any means that works for you to jot down your time schedule, how many people you will have and your basic menu. List each menu item starting with main dishes then sides and appetizers near the bottom.
Once you’ve got your menu, you can start your shopping list. Write down everything needed for each menu item. Be as thorough as possible! Include sizes and amounts, ( i.e. 5 pounds of potatoes or 5 packages of frozen beans) and whatever herbs or spices needed. You don’t want to find on the big day you’ve run out of basics like butter or Kosher salt!
As for drinks, I like to fill a cooler with ice, beer, hard seltzer, and soft drinks.
A bottle of wine contains about five glasses for those who are fans, and a couple bottles of vodka in the freezer couldn’t hurt for those who prefer something a little stronger!
Pro Tip: As you are adding items, check what you already have on hand. Many things not perishable can be bought a couple of weeks ahead leaving your Thanksgiving week shopping more manageable. Most stores already have most holiday menu items on sale, so you won’t miss out! I’m going to start myself this week and plan to get 50-60% of my shopping done.
Cooking schedule. As soon as you have an idea of your dinner time, you can plan for start times on meals.
As you are planning the schedule for the day, take into consideration the length of time many traditional Thanksgiving dishes take. Thankfully, most can be made ahead of time!
Rolls for instance can be made early in the day and warmed just before serving. Everything from appetizers to veggie trays to many side dishes can be made the day before. Turkey can be put in the oven at 10am; stuffing can be made by noon in the oven, 1 hour before dinner.
Pro Tip: Take people up on their offers to bring something. Family and friends are usually eager to support, and many have a special side or appetizer they are known for. So if they insist, say YES! This will save you a lot of time by taking things off your plate.
If you’re feeling anxious, try to remember: your guests are the people in your life who love you, so any small hiccups will barely be noticed.
Next time we will talk about what other practical steps you can take to get things ready for the big dinner!
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago