Can you believe it is almost the end of October?! We will be planning holiday meals in no time!
I like to prepare a much as I can before the meal. You know those holiday Hallmark movies where the family is together in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each of them is preparing something. One person is making the pumpkin pie, another is preparing the turkey to roast, someone is peeling the potatoes. Yea well it doesn’t work like that in my family and I’m betting it doesn’t in yours either.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have some help getting things ready to serve but for one thing, my kitchen isn’t that big AND I do not have enough ovens for multiple things to bake at one time!
So I thought I would come up with a planner, to help me, and to help you. We all lead busy lives and some of you may be awesome at throwing a big sit down holiday dinner in a flash, but I am not. I need to and like to prepare ahead of time, so here goes:
HOLIDAY MEAL PLANNER
2-3 Weeks Before
- Plan your menu. If you’re thinking of serving new dishes, practice cooking them prior to your dinner so you and your guests won’t be disappointed.
- If you are going with the traditional turkey, decide if you are purchasing a frozen or fresh bird, place your order if necessary.
- Inventory your plates, utensils, glassware and serving dishes. Start shopping if you need to replenish!
- What linens are you planning to use? Make sure you have enough tablecloths, napkins, and placemats. Launder and iron now.
- Will you need extra tables and chairs? Whether you are renting, borrowing or buying new, start now.
- Most importantly (other than the turkey!), make yourself lists. Write down EVERYTHING! Your menu, wine/drinks, things to do, things to buy, you will be thankful you did!
One Week Before
- If you have not done so already, prepare your grocery list. Then rewrite in the location order of your market or in the order as: produce, canned items, bakery, bread, pantry items, and so on.
- Clean out your kitchen before you grocery shop. Make sure your pantry and fridge are free of any unused leftovers or outdated products. Wipe down the shelves in the fridge.
- Inventory your spices and herbs, discard out dated or old containers.
- Clean your house and decorate if you have not already done so. Eliminate clutter and if your family likes to play games, make sure they are ready to go.
- Make a plan for your cooking preparations. Use a calendar if you like or just make a list.
- If you have purchased a frozen bird, and depending on the size, you may need to put in the fridge so it can start to thaw. Never leave the turkey thaw on the counter!
- The recipe for my Turkey Rub is here.
Monday and Tuesday before
- Shop for your groceries.
- Tie up any loose ends from above that you have not yet completed.
- Make the cranberry sauce. My recipe is here.
- If you are cutting up and cubing your own stuffing, do that now.
- I like to chop up any vegetables that I need on Tuesday. Whether it be the onion and celery for the stuffing and turkey, or veggies for my family to snack on as an appetizer.
- I work full time and usually cannot take off the day before so I like to make my pies and cakes Tuesday evening when I get home from work. My pumpkin Pie recipe is here. And my Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream recipe is here.
- If you have not done so already, bake your desserts. Store in a cool place or refrigerate.
- Prepare any appetizers that can be made ahead, cover and refrigerate. My Three Cheese Roasted Red Pepper Dip is here.
- If your vegetables are not chopped and ready to go, do that now.
- If you are cooking a fresh turkey, pick it up from the market.
- Prepare any side dishes ahead that you can. I make my mashed potatoes now, place them in a large casserole dish, dot with butter and cover with foil.
- If you are making your mashed potatoes tomorrow, peel and cut them now, place them in a bowl of water, cover and refrigerate.
- Set up any extra table and chairs, set the table, place any table décor out now.
- If you are planning to use a cooler for bottled water or beer and extra wine bottles, do that now and sit outside in a safe place.
- If you’re planning on hot chocolate by a fire pit, my recipe is here. Or my Hot Cider Float recipe is here.
- Inventory your lists and make sure you are on track!
- Take a hot bath, pour yourself a drink and relax with a good book!
THE BIG DAY!
- Prepare your stuffing and turkey and get them in the oven.
- Reheat your sides.
- Prepare the gravy.
- Don’t forget ask for help getting things on the table!
- And you are done! Enjoy your day and your guests and have a wonderful time!
I wish you the Happiest and Loveliest Thanksgiving and Christmas!
PS: And remember, your holiday will not be perfect! Don’t worry if something doesn’t work out as planned, laugh about it! I can’t tell you how many rolls I have burned because I put them in the oven last and forgot to set the timer!!