Thanksgiving is the biggest meal of the year! To make sure that the big day goes smoothly, do yourself a favor and start prepping now. Here are 5 things you can do this week to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Confirm Your Guest List
The first step is to figure out who’s coming for dinner. Whether you have 8 or 28 people will greatly affect your menu. Do you want to do a formal sit-down dinner or a casual buffet? Confirming the numbers (and if any of your guests have dietary restrictions) will have a big impact.
2. Plan Your Menu
Once you know how many people you’re hosting, you can figure out how much food you’ll need. This is also a good time to test out any new recipes you’re thinking of incorporating. In addition to your turkey, we suggest keeping it to 3 to 5 side dishes—scale the recipes up or down based on the size of your party (this will keep things simpler). For more tips on planning your Thanksgiving menu, read here.
3. Clean Out Your Fridge and Freezer
This is the time to go through your fridge and freezer and eat or toss any leftovers eating up space. You will need as much real estate as possible for ingredients, casserole dishes and wine!
4. Write Out Your Shopping List
Here at Goodtaste, we’re firm believers in organization being the key to a stress-free Thanksgiving Day. Once you have your menu planned out, write out two grocery lists: one for things you can buy now (pantry items, butter, eggs, preordering a turkey) and one for perishable things that need to be purchased week of. For the most efficient shopping trip, divide your list by grocery store departments (produce, meat, pantry, dairy, etc.). Pro tip: Don’t forget to add storage containers, plastic bags, tin foil, and plastic wrap to your list! We like to pick up inexpensive take-out containers for sending home leftovers too.
5. Make Turkey Stock (and Gravy!)
Stock is the backbone to almost every Thanksgiving dish, and when you make your own turkey stock, you can really taste the difference. Pick up turkey pieces at the grocery store (such as wings and necks) and roast them. Use those pieces to make as much turkey stock as your freezer can hold. Bonus: You can also use the roasting pan drippings to make your gravy in advance! Gravy freezes very well, so you don’t have to worry about whisking it to the perfect consistency while all of the other hot food is waiting on the table. See this recipe from Food & Wine on how to make your gravy beforehand.