I am excited to share some of my Thanksgiving Meal Preparation Tips, to hopefully help you prepare for the meal with less stress 🙂
Thanksgiving Meal Preparation Tips
Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner can be quite a job, depending on the number of people you are serving, and the quantity of food needed. Historically, I have loved preparing this meal for a large crowd, and cook over the course of a few days in preparation. Currently we don’t live within driving distance of the friends and family we shared this special meal with, but my family still likes to have their favorite items, just on a smaller scale. My boys are tween/teenagers, and small for their age, even though they eat vast quantities of food. Preparing this much food gives us leftovers for a day or so, and allows the boys to eat to their hearts content (and hopefully they gain a few pounds in the process!). Below the menu, I have included a list of tools I use, and links to find them online, if available. I hope this makes your own meal preparation a bit easier and less stressful. If someone needs a shopping list, I am happy to type that up for you as well, just let me know the menu items you want to make, and I’ll try to help you out.
My Thanksgiving Menu:
Black Eyed Peas
Tools Needed: (I am an Amazon Affiliate, any purchases made after clicking links to Amazon help support this blog and are appreciated.)
- Turkey Roasting Pan. You can use a traditional roaster, personally, I prefer to use an EcoFoil disposable Roaster. *I did a few sponsored posts for them several years ago, and got hooked. They are recyclable, so I just use mine, toss the remnants, rinse, and place it in my recycle bin. So much easier than trying to scrub a roaster in my small sink. They come as a 3 pack on Amazon, but my local grocery store (Hannaford’s), had them in store for $3 each.
- I use a second EcoFoil Pan to make my Brown Sugar and Coke Glazed Baked Ham.
- Electric Knife: Nick uses this to slice our turkey. He’s tried hand slicing several times, but by far prefers to use the electric knife.
- Casserole Baking Dishes – I am a Pyrex fan. I will say, make sure you use a hot pad or potholder to set them on. Many years ago I set one on a cold burner, and it shattered the dish full of hot food. I’ve been using them for over 20 years, and it’s only happened ONCE, but I’ll never forget it.
- Can Opener. I love my electric can opener, it makes it so much easier with the arthritis in my hands. However, you should always have a manual can opener on hand too, in case of malfunction. They are also quite useful for other occasions, such as power outages 🙂
- Mixing Bowls: These are my personal FAVORITE mixing bowls. I use them daily, gift them often, and can’t refer them often enough. I got mine as a gift a few years ago, and my other bowls only get used during the holidays when I am baking faster than I can wash and re-use these bowls. They are usually under $25 on Amazon, and if you need a secret santa gift for anyone, or just a gift under $25, these are perfect.
- Measuring Tools: When we moved, part of our relocation package included a Professional Organizer to come help me unpack. She was mortified to see how many sets of Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons I have 🙂 I like to cook for large groups of people, which requires preparing a lot of food. I also prefer things to go through the dishwasher after I’ve used them on things with raw egg, etc. to make sure they do not transfer any bacteria. So, that means I need several sets when I cook. She quickly realized, this wasn’t a category where keep one set and donate the rest was going to happen 🙂
- Food Processor and Food Chopper: I have the Pampered Chef version of the Food Chopper, though I’ve used an OXO Good Grips Chopper before, and it’s a close second in terms of performance. I’ve had my Pampered Chef Chopper for 20 years, I am pretty sure it was a wedding gift. I use it for so many things, it does great in the top rack of my dishwasher, and the blade is still sharp after all this time!
- Cast iron Skillet: My cast iron skillet was ruined several years ago when we lived in Oklahoma and our pipes burst. We never got around to replacing it before we moved because there were other priorities of items to be repaired and replaced. However, every time I make cornbread, I got complaints about the cornbread not tasting as good as it used to. The cast iron skillet really does make a difference when it comes to baking cornbread.
- I use some simple round biscuit cutters for my biscuit dough. Although you could get super creative and use some Leaves and Acorns Aluminum Cookie Cutters too, to make things more festive!
- Cookie Cutters: For the sugar cookies (and other cookies, if you’d like) there are some adorable Thanksgiving Cookie Cutter sets available! 7 Piece Cookie Cutter set, 3 piece Harvest Colored Cookie Cutter Set, Pilgrim Cookie Cutter Set, and Turkey/Acorn/Pumpkin/Leaf Set.
- Cookie Supplies: Last year for Christmas, I asked for and received, a new AirBake Cookie Sheet, Silicone Mat (Parchment Paper works good too), and Cooling Rack. They have really made a positive difference in improving the results of my cookies and other baked goods.
- For my pie dishes, I use an apple slicer to quickly get the perfectly sized apple slices I need.
- Ice Cream Scoop – I do use it for ice cream, but also to get uniformed sized cookie dough balls.
My biggest tip to Thanksgiving Meal Preparation is to PLAN AHEAD.
- Make your menu list.
- List out ALL ingredients needed, tools needed, and include the number of pans and utensils you need.
- Shop early.
- Triple check your ingredient list to make sure you have everything you need EARLY, before the stores run out of an item you need, so you don’t have to rush from store to store to fight crowds for one item. You don’t want to plan for 3 casseroles, and only have 1 casserole dish. If you need to make 3 casseroles, you’ll need 3 casserole dishes. (This is where disposables come in handy. I don’t have space to store 3 year round, and if I take one to a party to help the hostess out, I can leave it there and not worry about getting my only casserole dish back).
- PLAN your cook times. Know how long each item takes to cook, so you can plan to cook ahead, and reheat if necessary. Use slow cookers if available.
- How many pounds is your turkey? How long does it take to unthaw it? MAKE SURE IT IS UNTHAWED. How long does it need to cook?
- Keep a list of menu items you are making. Mark them off as they are done, LABEL them if you are storing them ahead of time, and note where you stored it on your list. (Fridge, freezer, etc)
- DELEGATE menu items to guests who offer to bring something. I make my menu list, and write down how long each item has to cook. I know that if my ham takes 3 hours, then at the 2 1/2 hour mark, I need to get a casserole ready to pop in as soon as the ham comes out to cool. I then prepare the rolls, so that the moment the casserole comes out, the rolls can pop in.
- Planning ahead and being organized reduces so much stress, and helps keep things running on schedule, so if guests need to visit multiple homes/families in one day, they can.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving Meal Preparation Tip? What is your favorite Thanksgiving Menu Item?