Family Life, Food

Thanksgiving Prep

tgivingmenu

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already here! I am excited and anxious at the same time. I had a couple of friends ask me about how I plan to throw down this year. I love the meal, I even enjoy the prep, but I HAVE to have a game plan, or I panic. If someone else is hosting I like to have planned out what we are contributing, but since we are hosting (and it is my first time having 2 kids in the house) my plans are even more important to be able to avoid last minute panic and a delayed meal. No one likes a delayed meal. Here is my process:

THE PAPERWORK: 

  1. Each year that we host I like to pick my menu in October to give me time to mull it over, and see if I want to make changes. I have a couple of staples that I don’t ever see changing, but even this year I had the menu planned and yesterday decided to add in my Butternut Squash soup because I made it a couple of weeks ago and it has stayed on my mind. I am keeping it to the basics.
  2. Once the menu is done I create a schedule of what can be made ahead, and the timing of each dish on Thanksgiving day. This is so very Type A of me, but we have 1 oven, and usually a large turkey, so space is a premium for cooking. It is also nice to have all of the prep that can be done in the days leading up done, so you can relax and just pop in the stuffing and other dishes for finishing off while the turkey is resting.
  3. Next up is my shopping list organized by each dish.
  4. I like to plan out what serving dishes I will be using. I set them out on Wednesday so that I don’t forget what I wanted to use and that everything is spaced out.

EXECUTION: 

  1. Clear out the fridge. We try to eat up all the leftovers and use up some of the frozen stuff because, while we have a beautiful looking fridge, I feel like it only holds 2 apples and a water jug. Again, space is a premium.
  2. Shop till you drop. Make a list, check it twice and knock it out. In my case most items will be purchased the weekend before, but a few items will be purchased at the farmers market Wednesday morning.
  3. FINALLY, YOU GET TO START! Start cooking. Pie crusts and cranberry sauces can be made days ahead. I save the actual filling of the pies until the day before, because it makes Wednesday fun, and I wash, chop, and prep the veggies for stuffing and any other snacks.

Here is a peek at my menu and my schedule (we eat at 4pm). I would love to know what rituals you all might have, I am always looking for ways to better my process.

Thanksgiving Menu:

Butternut Squash Soup – topped with toasted squash seeds (Tuesday morning)

Oven-roasted Turkey (Thursday 8am)

Cranberry, Apple, & Walnut Stuffing (Wednesday Prep, Thursday bake 3pm)

Port Wine Cranberry Sauce (Monday)

Lemony Green Beans (Wednesday)

Collard Greens (Wednesday)

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes (Thursday: start time 8am; whip @ 12pm)

Gravy (Thursday 3pm)

Skillet Cornbread (Thursday 3pm)

Cranberry Salsa (Monday)

Pies: Sweet Potato, Apple & Strawberry Rhubarb (Sunday Pie Crusts, Wednesday bake)

*I will prep the cornbread and stuffing while the turkey is roasting, and bake them together. While they are in I will make the gravy, set the green beans and greens on the stove top to heat, and carve the bird