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Monday, November 18, 2013

Tip Tuesday--Thanksgiving Prep

Earlier this week a friend asked me to plan her Thanksgiving dinner.  Then during a work meeting that kicks off with a 'funny' each time the theme was preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  Being a person who is a little slower to catch on than most, it wasn't until the 3rd time that someone mentioned cooking Thanksgiving dinner that I thought, "Hey, I could blog about that."  Third time is a charm, right?

If you are not normally a list person, this is the time I would HIGHLY recommend making a series of lists. For those of you who naturally migrate to a list to work through even the smallest list of things to do, I know you already have out a divided sheet of paper.  :)

Guests Menu Grocery
Store Trip 1
Store Trip 2

First decide on your guest list.  Will you be doing all the cooking by yourself?  Or can you ask people to bring specific items?  Maybe they would like to choose from a category of veggie, dessert, bread, drinks, plates/napkins (especially handy for dessert to avoid the extra dishes).

Decide on your menu items.  What meat(s) do you want to have? Turkey, ham, roast?  How do you want them to be prepared?  by you or someone else?  My friend said they were having three turkeys prepared in a contest fashion: roasted, smoked and fried.

Everyone has a few sides that are 'must haves' for their family.  If you're hosting a group this is a great time to pass out assignments to folks, especially if they have a secret recipe.

I've rarely pulled together a holiday meal without making a run to at least two grocery stores.  Of course I like to shop for great deals and I don't mind making an extra stop here and there too.  Plus there are definitely things you can buy this week that will still be good next week, leaving you just a few items to pick up next week.  That way you aren't trying to do a giant shopping trip AND cook a major meal.

As you make your grocery list, pull out each recipe that you will cook and find out all of the various ingredients you will need, separate your items into stock items (grocery store #1) vs. fresh items (grocery store trip #2).  Add those that you don't already have on hand to grocery list #1.

Your goal is to get all your grocery needs no later than Tuesday.  And hopefully Tuesday's list is the short one.  Wednesday is the absolute worst day to go to the store.  It is crowded.  There are lots of inexperienced shoppers crowding the aisles, and it should be avoided at all costs.  Even if it means you have to send your children to the store for you.  They can join the inexperienced shoppers; though my boys were not inexperienced.

This is also a good week to start hoarding ice, so that you don't have to buy any extra next week.  Take a plastic grocery bag (good luck finding one in Austin) and fill it with all the ice your ice machine has made.  Tie it closed and store it in your freezer.  When your ice maker catches up, dump it again and as many times as you think you'll need.  The worst case is that you let the ice melt on Friday if you don't end up needing it.

Remember to include some of the extras on your grocery list: bread for sandwiches on the day after, a frozen pizza for when you're all sick of looking at one more meal of turkey leftovers, extra onions, celery and carrots for making stock with the turkey bones.

Next week, I'll walk you through the steps for the week of Thanksgiving.

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