7 days from today, I will be getting up at dawn to put my 95 lb turkey in the oven. I will be debating on the blue or the black elastic waistband pants, and go with the black because black is slimming don'tcha know? I'll be watching the streaming video of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on my laptop while I cook. I'll be thinking about every. single. thing. we have to be thankful for this year. And most importantly, I'll be spending the day with my family, doing nothing, making memories with food.
Sadly, it is NOT 7 days from today. It is today, and I am planning my strategy now. By doing a little bit each day, I can save myself a lot of hassle the night before or the day of Thanksgiving!
Here is what I will be doing in the next 7 days to get myself ready for Thanksgiving:
Today- Finalize my menu, check my pantry for items I already have, make a grocery list for what I need. I'm also going to make sure that I have something easy planned for dinner the night before, and breakfast the day of.
Friday- Make my pie crust, put it into the pans and freeze it. I'm lucky that my pie plates are ok to go in the freezer. If yours aren't, just make your dough, wrap it in plastic and drop it into a zip top bag.
Saturday- Finish any cleaning that I didn't get to yet. Run any serving ware, silverware or glassware through the dishwasher. Clean out the fridge.
Sunday- My normal shopping day. Get all of the groceries and back to the ranch I head. Make sure I set the turkey in the fridge to be brined on Tuesday morning.
Monday- Have the kids make the table decorations (hand print turkeys, finger print indian corn, pilgrim hats, etc). Set out the serving plates that you are going to use and put a sticky note into each one labeling it with the dish that goes in it.
Tuesday- Put the turkey in the brine and cut up the bread for stuffing and leave it out overnight. Pre-chop anything I am going to need on Thanksgiving and put it into zip top bags in the fridge. Put pie crusts into the fridge for the next day.
Wednesday- Bake pies, mix candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish and hash brown casserole, wrap and put in the fridge. I'm going to make the dough for our dinner rills, shape them and let them raise in the fridge overnight. While I am waiting for them to raise the first time, I will slice the cheese, drain the olives and pickles for the nibbly bits tray as well, and place them in zip top bags in the fridge too. Take the turkey out of the brine, place it in the roasting pan in the fridge overnight to let the skin dry out (makes such a good, crispy skin!)
Thursday- We made it! We aren't going to have a major meltdown either because we are ready. I'm going to pop the hash brown casserole into the oven, take a shower while it cooks, get out and make some french toast to go with it. Next, I'll chuck the turkey in there. While it cooks, I'll peel potatoes and place them in a bowl of water in the fridge. Everything else is in the fridge and ready to go in the oven about the last hour of the turkey's baking time.
It's a lot to to the day before and the day of Thanksgiving, but it is a lot less than if you waited until the last minute to do it. This is how I have been doing it since I started cooking our Thanksgiving meal at home, and it works wonderfully for me. Of course, you can change it to better suit your schedule, your menu or your time constraints.
The best thing about having a plan is that you know what has to happen, there are no surprises and in the end you have more time and don't look like a madwoman (or madman) running around your kitchen.
That's how I am tackling Thanksgiving, I hope you can use some of my strategy in your own planning as well!