Will you be hosting a feast this Thanksgiving? Let’s talk about how that can be a labor of love rather than a horrible burden.
Plan your menu ahead of time. Do this as soon as you can. Write down what you intend to make (and what others are bringing, as a reference). Make sure you have everything you would like and get rid of any extras that you don’t really need or want.
Once you know your menu, make a grocery list and schedule time to go to the store. We know that Wednesday afternoon is NOT the best time for this, so plan ahead and avoid the hassle.
Planning ahead involves knowing how your day will go (roughly) and knowing what you plan to make for a meal, but you also need to know how the various steps for your chosen menu will fit into your schedule. When do you need to start preparing? Do you need to figure on 2 hours in the kitchen or 20 minutes?
Many recipes now include prep time and cook time, which is very helpful. But you still need to know what you’ll be doing when.
Note: if you use frozen meat for your meals, remember to add defrosting the meat to your steps or your schedule the day before or early the day of. A turkey may need a few days to defrost completely.
As you look at your menu, map out the different steps and when you’ll need to do each of them (i.e., 2 hours ahead, 45 minutes ahead, right before serving, etc.). Some recipes or dishes are simple enough that you only need 5 minutes of prep time 2 hours before dinner. Some have a few more steps. Others are all last minute, just before you eat. Write it down in a timeline, counting backwards from your target mealtime.
For an example, you would sketch out a timeline like this:
- 2 hours prior — prepare meat and put in oven
- 45 minutes prior — prepare sweet potatoes and put in oven
- 15 minutes prior — set table and steam vegetables
Do anything non-time-sensitive ahead of time as you can. Add a section to your timeline (or an additional sheet) that lists what you would like to be done at some point (prepare place-cards, make centerpiece, sweep front porch, pull extra chairs out of garage, etc.). Getting ready ahead of time helps you, and you’ll also have a quick answer for anyone who is available to help.
Now you also know what you are doing and that your bases are covered. Way to plan!