Your Week-by-Week, Day-by-Day Guide to Your Best Thanksgiving Ever
Procrastinating and Thanksgiving don’t really jive, even though the fourth Thursday of November feels like it sneaks up earlier every year. If you’re the kind of person that looks forward to a new planner every year, this guide is for you. If you’re the type to leave everything to the last minute … this is really for you.
3–4 weeks ahead:
This early in the game, it’s all about the freezer, a.k.a. the treasure chest that saves Thanksgiving. Clear out room, because you’ll need the extra space. Pick up drumsticks and wings from the Meat department, roast them and use them to make turkey stock — freeze it now and use it for gravy, stuffing and soup later. You can also prep and freeze discs of pie dough, pumpkin bread and cranberry relish. Be sure to stock your pantry so that you have everything you need on hand, too. (Don’t worry about needing to know the essentials offhand — we’ve got a list for you.)
2 weeks ahead:
Time for an equipment check. Check out your kitchen supplies to make sure you’ve got a roasting pan and a reliable kitchen thermometer. You know, those things you tend to pull out once a year. Once you’ve gotten those secured, reserve your turkey — time to decide if you’re going with an organic or heirloom bird this year. We’ve also got plenty of classic birds that meet our meat department standards for animal welfare and no antibiotics, ever.
(If this much prep already has you overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to go ahead and reserve your whole Thanksgiving dinner. That way, all you have to do is reheat, pour the wine and take in the compliments.)
One week ahead:
Finalize your menu, gather the recipes you need and send out your cooking assignments if you’re outsourcing your sides or desserts to guests. If you have a frozen turkey and you’re planning on brining it, start thawing it in the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb? For every five pounds, allot a full day for thawing.
5 days ahead:
If you haven’t gone grocery shopping yet, do that, and pick up the turkey you reserved a week or so ago, too. You can also start thawing out any of your frozen pre-prepped stock, pie crust and whatever else you need to thaw out in the fridge.
4 days ahead:
Get out all of the serving platters. Label the bottoms with their intended dishes: serving spoons, baking dishes and place settings you might need. If you’re worried about table real estate, lay everything out to get an idea of your full tablescape.
3 days ahead:
Clear out your fridge and chill your wine and beer. If you have turkey stock on hand, you can save yourself time on Thanksgiving and make your gravy today. You’ll thank yourself later.
2 days ahead:
Assemble pies and store in the refrigerator; make a dip for crackers for an easy appetizer to put out as guests start arriving. Heads up — this is the last day to order any last-minute meals, sides, desserts or appetizers online for Thanksgiving pickup. Start dry-brining your turkey. (Dry brining takes 48 hours.)
The day before:
Bake pies (most pies can be left out on the counter overnight, just tent with foil and warm in the oven if necessary before serving), clean and trim veggies such as green beans and Brussels sprouts, and cook reheatable starchy sides such as stuffing and mashed potatoes.
Roast the turkey that you expertly dry-brined (this always takes longer than you think — remember to factor in resting time once the turkey’s out of the oven). Cook and/or reheat your sides and set out your appetizers. If you want extra bragging rights next year, prep a breakfast casserole for tomorrow morning. Enjoy the day, the feast and the incredible meal you pulled off, thanks to your careful planning.
Oh, and if you’ve put off your Thanksgiving planning a little too long, don’t sweat it. You can always reserve your holiday meals, entrées, sides and desserts online. Just make sure you get your order in by November 20.