Thanksgiving dinner menus will help you plan a fabulous meal. Build your menu around your traditional favourites or try a new Thanksgiving recipe, having a plan will make your meal prepping run smoothly.
Question: Where do I begin?
Create Your Menu
Hosting Thanksgiving means you need a plan, and that means a menu. I want you to start planning now, go through your recipes, do a quick head count of how many people are going to attend. Next, start building a list of dishes you plan to make and then eliminate 1/2 of the list. You don’t need hassle back potatoes and mashed potatoes - pick one.
As the host you will always think you don’t have enough food. I’ve always said I would rather have more than not enough, I don’t want my guests to leave hungry.
I guarantee your guests will only take a bit of each dish so no need for 2 pounds of peas and mushrooms.
ONE WEEK Prior To The Event
Gather all your serving dishes; or make a list of all the dishes you need for that day and where to find them in your home. If you are missing something it gives you enough time to borrow or pick it up. You don’t want to be scrambling the day of when you have guests over.
Create your checklist; of tasks to be accomplished prior to your event and input them as events in your calendar.
Grocery Shopping; Create 2 grocery lists: 5 days before the meal buy Turkey (if buying frozen) and non-non-perishables, and 3 days before the meal for perishable items and any last minute things you need.
Question: How long does it take to defrost a Turkey?
For every 5 pounds the turkey will take 24 hours to defrost in the refrigerator.
Example: A 20 pound frozen turkey will need 4 days of thawing in the refrigerator
Question: When should I buy a fresh Turkey?
If buying fresh, purchase your Turkey the day prior to the event.
TWO DAYS Prior To The Event Date
Prepare as much as you can before the big day.
Make your cranberry sauce and cut veggies. wash trim and halve Brussels sprouts, peel and slice carrots, snap green beans, celery, etc. Make salad dressings and wash and dry lettuce/greens for salad.
ONE DAY Prior To The Event
Peel, wash and cut potatoes into cubes. Soak in cold water, cover and place in the refrigerator over night. This eliminates some of the starch in the potatoes and crisp up nicely in the oven or place them in a slow cooker the day of and make mashed potatoes.
Prep your Turkey (step by step instructions below)
Set your table, take out your serving dishes, prepare your stuffing. You can also make your mashed potatoes and reheat them in the slow cooker/crock pot the day of. If you are roasting veggies you can cook them the night before and heat through just before you are serving the meal.
Question: Can I make dessert in advance?
Bake your pies the night before and refrigerate overnight. On the day of, remove the pie from the refrigerator, place on the counter to bring the pie to room temperature. Place the room temperature pie in the oven on low and heat through while you are enjoying your meal.
Frozen - ready in an hour, bake while you are having lunch or dinner. hot fresh out of the oven. top with ice cream
If you prefer homemade. Make the pie dough and roll out into pie plates 1 week before and freeze them.
A few cheats: Williams Sonoma has pre-made stuffing, add your liquid and it’s done. They also have pecan pie filling in a jar. Buy the ready made small tartlet crust from the grocery store and scoop the filing into each one and bake.
How long does it take to cook a Turkey?
Cooking times can vary
Calculate 13 minutes cooking time per pound would be a good estimate. Let me break it down a bit more, It should take a 14 lb. turkey 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook.
Question: How do I cook a Turkey?
Prep your turkey the night before
There is always an ongoing debate “do you wash raw meat” and when preparing your Turkey i’ll leave that up to you. I don’t and this is why; washing the turkey can contaminate your kitchen, the water can spray on your back splash, all over your sink. Cooking the Turkey to the right temperature will kill any bacteria that may be lingering in your turkey - you can’t wash that away.
To brine or not to brine? There are people who stand strongly on both sides of this question. So if you brine your turkey go ahead, but for me I don’t bother with the extra step. I get great tasting and moist turkey without.
Stuffing or no Stuffing? I can take it or leave it, I’m not big on stuffing but I do make it in a separate dish. I find the Turkey cooks faster without the stuffing but the stuffing is not as moist as it would be if it were in the turkey. So for this I say do as you want.