Thanksgiving Hacks: Simple Ways to Prep and Celebrate
Simple Ways to Prep and Celebrate
Okay, I’ll admit I’ve never cooked a complete Thanksgiving dinner by myself. I have, however, hosted on many occasions and am not ashamed to admit it was a joint effort among me, my husband and any guests who attended! So I asked some Thanksgiving experts (mostly moms and grandmas) for their best Thanksgiving tips. Here are some tricks to help your day run smoothly.
- Ask everyone to bring something. I know, sounds like common sense right? But when people offer to bring something, actually take them up on it. When we’ve hosted, we provided the turkey but someone else brought the bean casserole. Another person brought the mashed potatoes. Or an appetizer. You don’t need to do it all to pull off a successful day.
- You’ll need room in your refrigerator, so pull your coolers out of the basement or garage and fill them with food from the fridge. You won’t need those hotdogs or that jar of mayo for a few days until the leftovers are gone!
- Use your kitchen cabinet as a recipe holder. Rather than risking your phone or computer in the midst of all the cooking, or monopolizing precious space with a cookbook stand, simply copy your needed recipes and tack them up high with tape. Food can splatter them with no consequence, and you will have more counter space.
- Prep as much as possible the day before. Chop everything you can chop, including veggies for stuffing, apples for pies, etc. (Trick to keeping apples from browning: Keep them in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to make the pies.) Lay out your pie crusts and freeze them so they keep their shape. You even can slow roast your turkey overnight to free up oven space the following day. Lastly, freeze your sticks of butter. On Thanksgiving morning you can grate the frozen butter into recipes like pies for easy mixing!
- Forget a roasting rack? Don’t have a rolling pin? Improvise! Wine or beer bottles make great makeshift rolling pins. And you can create your own roasting rack by rolling up tin foil and coiling it at the bottom or the roasting pan, or lay down large chunks of carrots, onions and potatoes and position the turkey on top. The drippings make the veggies taste delicious with this method!
- Again, this one might be obvious, but use what you have in the cabinet and fridge! Stale bread makes stuffing delicious and soaks up some extra moisture. And the day after Thanksgiving, throw all the leftover turkey and veggies into a giant pot of stew. Dinner is made for the week!
- Set the table the night before. Dig out the fancy china and gravy boat, as well as Grandma’s silver, if that’s what you’re using. This way you’re not scrambling to find everything the next day when food is simmering on the stove.
- Create a schedule—either for the week or just the day. Writing out every step and allotting a time for each will help you stay on track and not forget something like the defrosting the turkey or cooking the biscuits. (Someone in our family always forgets the biscuits!) And don’t wait until the last minute—buy as much as you can the week before and then perishable items on Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Buy to-go containers or tell your guests to bring theirs from home. This way everyone gets to go home with lots of leftovers.
- And finally and most importantly: Don’t talk politics!
Happy Turkey Day!
Olathe mom Karen Johnson has three kids, ages 8, 6 and 4. She writes at The21stCenturySAHM.com.