November 16, 2012

Turkey Day Prep: 5 Things to do This Weekend

The colors of the harvest season.
Spoiler alert: I LOVE Thanksgiving.

It's a good thing, too, since my family winds up doing three Thanksgiving meals (husband's side, dad's side, mom's side). And then there's the potluck at work. So all told, in the next eight days, I will be participating in four major meals.

It's been this way for many years, and happily I've learned a thing or two; mainly that the weekend before T-Day is very important for preparing. Here are my top five tips for getting ahead this Turkey Day.

5. Recipe plan. Gather all the recipes you need, and really study them. Assess your pantry situation, then—and only then—go to the grocery store.

4. Make an oven schedule. This is totally nerdy, but by golly—it is a real help, especially if you're expecting company at your place. Take time to figure out how long (and at what temperature) everything needs to cook, and plot it all out carefully on a schedule. Take into consideration what can be served once it's cooled a little, like stuffing, and what is better-tasting when it's fresh out the oven.

3. Bake cornbread for stuffing. Making stuffing from scratch is not much more work than the store-bought stuff, especially if you think ahead and make cornbread this weekend.

2. Make pie crusts from scratch. Since pie dough is easiest to work with when it's chilled, make a few crusts ahead of time and throw 'em in the freezer. Move them to the fridge the night before you plan to bake. Thanks, Cooks Illustrated, for clueing me in to that idea.

1. Think of others. It's easy to get swept up in the fun of the season, but all this talk of the wonderful food we're about to enjoy makes me think of the people right here in our community who go without. Do you have time to volunteer at a meal kitchen, or can you donate to a local food bank? Keep the hungry in mind while you're grocery shopping. Many stores offer the option to donate right at the register—super easy! 

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving?