The step-by-step to-do list and shopping list
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We usually have anywhere from 30-40ish here — this year will be on the smaller side, at 30, including a good number of littles (I rely on Norwex to clean up before/after so I don’t have to stress over kid messes).
No, we don’t have a huge house or a monstrous kitchen (ample, but not huge), but we make it work and have fun together. This is my 43rd “married” Thanksgiving, and I still rely on my trusty written plan to help me out! Each year I tweak it a bit, may add a recipe or two, or have someone else do a part, but this is the basic outline. Thought it might help you at least have a starting point!
And while you are planning ahead, be sure to have your turkey safely thawed (and that includes removing anything packaged IN the bird before roasting!). Ashley Simper, MS, RD, LDN, Manager of Dietetic Services for OSF Healthcare, recommends these tips to help you defrost your holiday bird safely, including a thawing timetable.
(Speaking of thawing…..Update for my 46th married Thanksgiving: Last year, my turkey thawed way faster than it should have, so I had to cook it earlier in the week and reserve it for a day or two. So I spatchcocked it, deboned the meat, and went ahead and made the dressing AND the mashed potatoes ahead of time as well. All went into large foil pans to be reheated in the oven on Thanksgiving. It worked well for us, so I’m including that plan for you here, if you’d like an alternate timetable for that. Note that it takes mashed potatoes a long time to reheat in such quantity in the oven so allow an hour to two for reheating a large pan in the oven! Ask me how I know……)
Step 1: Make a menu.
This starts with a basic head count (meaning invitations need to go out—mine are usually just Facebook Messenger notes, but you can get fancy if you’d rather. I’m lucky I remember to even send the FB messages, as I’m usually just finishing work travels about this time and Thanksgiving often catches me by surprise!). Our menu is simple; in the past, I’ve done pretty much all the cooking, but I’m getting better at letting others pitch in these days. Our menu for this year will include two turkeys (20 lbs each) and a turkey breast (my first one in the Pampered Chef Quick Cooker!), 20lbs of mashed potatoes (I believe in Plenty – it’s almost a joke around here now at the holidays), my signature stuffing (from Everyday Cooking), lots of other typical sides, and several chocolate pies. And of course, my grandkids would be heartbroken to miss out on our traditional dinner rolls (also from Everyday Cooking).
Step 2: Rough out the schedule.
I work backwards. The deciding factor for dinner time is….what time is the Detroit Lions football game? If it’s late, we eat early. If it’s early (as it is this year), we eat after 4:30. So I start with We’d Like to Eat About 4:30, and work my timetable backward. (See it here.) I even include items that can be done earlier in the week, such as making tea concentrate, cleaning bathrooms, selecting music, borrowing a crockpot, and more.
See steps 1-3 for links to downloadable printables.
Step 3: Buy all the things.
This means I have to have the menu done, so I can make a grocery list. Some of the list may get distributed to others, depending on the budget. And my husband often either shops or goes with me—he’s a huge blessing!
(Some photos by Rebekah McBride, www.nodeskrequired.com)
Step 4: Be thankful.
This is really an all-through-the-holiday step….but it’s so easy to get caught up in making everything “nice for company,” and lose sight of the blessings of friends and family. So I try to build margin into my week to enjoy this time together!
With the plans printed out and posted on the fridge, the shopping list in hand, and the turkey thawing in the outside refrigerator, I can relax (somewhat) and enjoy baking with the kids while part of the gang plays games in the dining room and some of the kids help decorate the table and make the place cards. (With all the ages we have, our table will not make Martha Stewart Living, but we appreciate the littles’ creativity and helpfulness.) And by the end of the day, we are tired but happy and so grateful to God for each other, for his provision and mercy, and for the gift of salvation through Jesus.
Some of our traditions include games, handmade place cards, a gratitude “tree” of some sort, and pie. Lots of pie. Mostly chocolate.
What are your traditions?
To get the mess/ cooking all done in advance: Last year, my turkey thawed way faster than it should have, so I had to cook it earlier in the week and reserve it for a day or two. So I spatchcocked it, deboned the meat, and went ahead and made the dressing AND the mashed potatoes ahead of time as well. All went into large foil pans to be reheated in the oven on Thanksgiving. It worked well for us, so I’m including that plan for you here, if you’d like an alternate timetable for that. (Note that it takes mashed potatoes a long time to reheat in such quantity in the oven so allow an hour to two for reheating a large pan in the oven! Ask me how I know……)
A few products you might like to help you this holiday season….
(Affiliate links, meaning you get the same good deals and I get a few cents here and there to keep bringing you fun content!)
OXO Good Grips Silicone Dough Rolling BagMrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie Crust Weights, Natural Ceramic Stoneware2 Aunt Martha’s Pie Crust Maker Bags; One Bag 14Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Pie Crust Protector Shield, Fits 9.5-Inch and 10-Inch Pie PlatesSpring Chef Dough Blender, Top Professional Pastry Cutter with Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Blades (Black-Medium)4ps (2pks) Pop- Up Timer for Turkey – Heucks Pop-Up Cooking Kitchen Tool Chicken Poultry Beef, USA MadeBosch Universal Plus Stand Mixer Baker’s Package with Additional Baking AttachmentsThe Miracle TimeCube Timer, 5, 15, 30 and 60 Minutes, for Time Management, Kitchen Timer, Kids Timer, Workout Timer, WhiteBosch MUM6N10UC Universal Plus Stand Mixer, 800 watt, 6.5-QuartsWinware Stainless Steel Dough Scraper with Wood HandleBosch MUM4405 Compact Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield, 400 watt, 4 QuartDough Scraper Bench Knife: Professional Quality Heavy Duty Multi-Purpose Stainless Steel Bench Scraper, Chopper, Cutter – Perfect for Pastry, Nuts, Herbs, Chocolate, Pizza Dough, Soap, Bread BakingNutriMill Artiste Kitchen Stand Mixer (Black Trim)The Original Danish Dough Whisk – LARGE 13.5Ateco 14578 Bowl Scraper, Pack of 4, WhiteSET: The Family Game of Visual PerceptionInstant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure CookerOXO Good Grips Smooth Potato MasherOXO Good Grips 4 Cup Fat SeparatorReusable Produce Bags The Original Eco – Friendly See Through and Washable Soft Premium Lightweight Nylon Mesh Large 12Produce wash (Biokleen)Dish Soap (Citrus & Aloe) – Also available in Free & ClearNorwex Dish Cloths, gray (also available in blue)