This year, we had a one-on-one with Chef Ben to ask his advice on preparing for the biggest feast of the year! Whether you are a fastidious foodie or a carefree cook, we think Chef Ben might have a little insight to make prepping for your Thanksgiving dinner a little less “bird-brained”.
The Week of Nov 10:
- Plan your menu. Think about what traditional and trendy foods you would like to serve. (It’s fun to try something new each year.) Research recipes and online or in magazines. Print out and collect all recipes in one convenient place.
- Make lists to stay organized. Note shopping ingredients, guests, paper products, serving-ware, leftover containers and more. You can’t have too many lists!
- Start looking at grocery store ads. Market District has great deals on Thanksgiving items all month long.
- Make non-perishable grocery purchases — pumpkin purée, canned cranberry, marshmallows, etc.
- Invite guests (text, call, email or … snail mail?). Ask if they are bringing any dishes or treats. Also ask about any dietary restrictions (gluten free, lactose intolerant, diabetic, etc.).
- Not cooking this year? Market District offers fully cooked, heat & serve Thanksgiving Dinners that serve 8-12 and allow you to customize your sides. Get details and order today!
The Week of November 17:
- Order and pick up your Thanksgiving Turkey. Fresh turkeys must be ordered ahead of time in Market District’s Meat Department.
- If you are planning to celebrate with decorations, this is the time to buy or get them ready. Also, if you are hosting a particularly large dinner or having first-time guests, it’s always nice to have pre-arranged seating assignments.
- Make sure you have enough serving-ware, Write down menu items on small pieces of paper and place in the intended bowl or platter. Make sure to account for any dishes that your guests will be bringing.
- The week before is also a great time to make any items that can be frozen, i.e. sautéed celery, onions & herbs for stuffing.
The Week of: November 24
- Finish your shopping, being sure to include items that fulfill any special dietary needs, gluten-free rolls, for instance. Most produce, meat and seafood ingredients will be fine, but it is recommended to pick up fresh breads or highly perishable items as close to Thanksgiving as possible.
- Clean the house and get organized. Unearth extra chairs and prepare your house for any young children (pull out the card table).
- Defrost the turkey. Start to defrost your turkey on Sunday. Proper thawing is essential and turkeys can take up to three days to fully thaw. It is recommended that you keep your turkey wrapped in an aluminum pan in your refrigerator until ready to cook.
- Make desserts. Most pies, puddings and other desserts can be made three to four days before Thanksgiving and be perfectly fresh. Make sure to pick up some ice cream and whipped cream to go along with your desserts. Indulgence rules!
- Certain dishes can be made a day or two before Thanksgiving to help alleviate the workload. These dishes include casseroles (sweet potato, green bean, broccoli, potato), desserts and cold salads.
- Create a cooking schedule: Write down all of the cooking times your dishes will require on Thanksgiving day and arrange them in order from longest to shortest to avoid reheating them before dinner.
- Vegetables can be cut and refrigerated for four to five days before you are ready to cook. The only vegetable that this doesn’t hold true for is the potato; these can be washed, peeled, cut and stored in water in your refrigerator.
- Serving iced tea or lemonade. These can be made two days beforehand. Wine, beer and pop should be properly chilled or stored.
November 28 — Happy Thanksgiving!
- Get the kids involved by asking them to make table place cards according to your seating arrangement. This is where those hand turkeys come in, well, handy!
- If you plan your dinner to last several hours or are going buffet style, consider using electric hot plates to keep foods warm at 225°F. You can also keep extra food covered in the oven at the same temperature.
- Make sure you have enough containers to store leftovers. Also make sure to have either disposable or give-away take-home containers for guests and family.
- If you plan on eating your main Thanksgiving meal early, you may want a light dinner later. Just make sure you have some bakery fresh rolls, sandwich toppings, condiments and a few extra side selections for the traditional Thanksgiving turkey sandwich finish.