It is that time of year again where I plan to spend more time in my kitchen as the holiday countdown begins. I wanted to recap on a few of my posts from this time last year as well as some new tips that helped out a lot in the kitchen! It’s a good old recap of “Thanksgiving Made Easy”.
I usually start planning out our Thanksgiving meal about 2 weeks ahead of the actual day. Some of the things I run through are:
- meal planning for Thanksgiving day
- food inventory
- cooking time sheet
- utensil inventory
- cooking space
Here are a few tips taken from the list above that have helped me time and time again.
Meal planning for Thanksgiving day
What are you going to eat for Thanksgiving? Better yet, what are you going to eat before AND after Thanksgiving too? Coming from someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, I try to make the night before Thanksgiving day a simple one when it comes to dinner. Typically there are already casseroles in the fridge, so storing leftovers from a family meal the night before Thanksgiving are not going to be possible. We try to keep it simple and minimize the time spent in the kitchen for dinner. A frozen pizza with paper plates works well along with a salad. This plan keeps everyone out of the kitchen as much as possible and keeps the dishes low-key.
It never fails. I always forget something. Whether it be an ingredient needed to cook or perhaps something was prepared and forgotten during our Thanksgiving meal. Making a food inventory with the following categories will ensure that you don’t forget anything at the grocery store, you know what everyone wants to eat, and you can be accountable for what is put out on the table on Thanksgiving day.
TIP: Make a list of what everyone wants to eat. Any picky eaters in your house or folks with allergies? Making a list will keep you out of the danger zone of having too much of something left over because it was not a favorite. Don’t forget to include to basics. Meat, vegetable, starch, dessert. The list could go on and on in our house…
TIP: Now that you have a general idea of what you need to make, it would be best to write-up a grocery list. What ingredients do you have on hand? What will you need more of? What will you need to save up to purchase?
TIP: That food inventory list will come in handy when it’s time to prepare your table. Having a food inventory list ensures that something does not get shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten. Last year, my list saved the day when a fruit salad was missing from the table. If I had not made that list, I would have forgotten all about it because it was a prepare ahead and set aside item.
Cooking Time sheet
Having a plan for what to cook, where to cook it and how long it takes has to be one of my top tips. For years I was battling cook times for what goes in the oven. We had a smaller oven and could literally fit the turkey and perhaps one casserole at a time in there. I purchased a portable oven and my life has changed for the better. A portable roaster oven like this one on Amazon has been amazing! I can literally sit the turkey the roaster oven, set it on a table in the garage or on the porch and check on it occasionally. Now my casseroles are not competing for space in the oven. So, back to the time sheet. You will want to plan everything out. My casseroles are about 45 minutes to an hour each in the oven unless they are Crockpot friendly. We love some casseroles around here, but they get in the way when I need to get rolls prepared or a pie cooked. Planning your cook times will allow you to visualize what will need to stay in the oven longer. This method will also allow you to plan out your cook times so you know what is coming next!
This roaster oven has saved me time and time again when it comes to cooking turkeys for the holidays!
Ah, the utensils. The things that make life easy in the kitchen, or so I thought. Last year I had an issue with my manual can opener. It suddenly became very hard to turn the handle. I struggled through cans of corn and green beans as I tried to open each one. After meal time was done, I headed over to Pinterest to find a work around to my can opener woes. (PS… I pin all types of lovely things along with kitchen tips on Pinterest. You can follow me here.) Low and behold, one of the ingredients I use most in the kitchen could have saved the day with just one squirt. Find out what I mean by checking out my post on “fixing your can opener with cooking spray“.
Most of the utensils that come in handy around the holidays are:
a few good spatulas like this one from OXO
wooden mixing spoons
a whisk like this one from OXO
a turkey baster
a digital thermometer
a swivel peeler
turkey lifters like these. They are all one piece of metal and easy to throw in the dishwasher too!
an apple divider
and the list goes on….
Here are some of my few brand favorites from Amazon…
About a week before Thanksgiving and Christmas, my kitchen gets a deep clean session. I clear out all clutter, wipe down all surfaces, make sure everything is where it should be and start breaking out the larger items like the Crockpot and roaster oven. The night before, I then make sure my dishwasher is empty, the oven is clean, and all of my counters are clutter free. This method has cut down time spent frantically wondering where my mixing bowls are and where the can opener had run off to. Having an empty dishwasher allows me to load the dishes as the food finishes cooking and I can multi task as they are washing. I give my dishwasher far too little credit for the time it cuts in washing dishes while I am cooking.
To wrap it all up, don’t forget about the leftovers! If you’ve run out of dishes from cooking, what are you going to store all of the leftovers in? Check out the post I wrote last year on what we do in my family to store our leftovers. Some Thanksgiving Day DIY Leftover Containers just might come in handy and will save a few infrequent holiday guests from taking off with your best Tupperware too!
Once the holidays are over, my house goes in to de-clutter mode.Here is a great book I found last year and have used in our home to clear out the clutter and make room for more memories. Click here to view more details.
Until the next Hot Mess…..