As much as I love Thanksgiving (it’s my favorite holiday), it can be a rather stressful day; especially if you’re cooking. There’s just so much to keep in mind, even as you prepare a small feast for your immediate family. From rethinking a scaled-down menu, planning the best way to shop at the grocery store to cooking a meal that everyone loves, and making this cherished family holiday a success, there’s a lot to do. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy the day, avoid a melt-down, and be a hit in the kitchen this Thanksgiving day!
Recommended Reading: An Almost Happy Thanksgiving (A Baby Boomer’s Guide to Entertaining)
Although Thanksgiving this year will be a bit different, you’ll probably still want to prepare a meal for your family. The gathering may be more intimate in 2020 and that’s okay. It gives you more time and space to learn and implement some kitchen tips that will make every Thanksgiving day a breeze.
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23 Thanksgiving Day Tips for the Kitchen
To help you win in the kitchen this and every Thanksgiving day, I’ve collected some advice from the experts. I asked my friends and colleagues, who are some of the best cooks I know, to share their secrets. These women offer insightful tips and clever hacks that you’ll love. Use these kitchen tips to spend less time in the kitchen and more quality time with the family this Thanksgiving day.
Kara asks, “Do you have a convection oven?” “The first year we were in our house, I had everyone over for dinner. I had all the ingredients and planned everything out. But I just wasn’t familiar enough with my two ovens. The turkey went into one oven which I set with a probe so it would be cooked just right. I calculated that it would take close to 4.5 hours. Imagine my surprise when the turkey was done after two hours and the guests weren’t expected for another 3 hours! The oven had been on the convection setting. I then had to figure out how to reheat the turkey without drying it out. But if you have a convection oven and know how to use it, it can be a huge timesaver when roasting a large bird.”
The following 3 helpful tips are from my colleague, Janet Schiesl of basicorganization.com
- Use foil whenever possible to speed up cleaning afterward.
- If you use plastic containers for leftovers, consider having only one size to eliminate having to match tops with bottoms.
- Arrange all the prep tools and ingredients on the counter before beginning to cook to save time.
Maddy suggests having a helper for clean-up whenever you have a large gathering. (Perhaps next year!) If you’re having a small group though, everyone should lend a helping hand.
Hayley recommends cleaning as you go.
Diana says to throw away trash ASAP – don’t leave it around the counters or on the floor.
Lauren cleverly suggests finding suitable distractions for kids while you’re busy in the kitchen.
Alison says get a good night’s sleep the night before.
Robin recommends always keeping a file from each year, of the menu and tablescape (pictures, recipes from magazines, and newspaper).
Prepare in Advance
Natalie always makes sure that her linens are freshly laundered in advance.
Lisa says, if you want to be super organized, set the table the Monday of or at the very least, the night before. (Toss a clean sheet over the table to keep it dust-free.)
Jocelyn suggests cooking as many side dishes as you can a few days ahead.
Sharon recommends cleaning the guest bathroom the day before.
Heather opts for seasoning the turkey the night before.
Audrey says, to plan what you’re wearing ahead of time.
Recommended Reading: How to Get a Sparkling Clean Bathroom the Easy Way
Wow Your Family
Jenna always plans on one new dish each Thanksgiving (it could even be a variation of a favorite dish).
Lindsay similarly, always has one WOW dish.
Carolyn suggests having a great music playlist while cooking.
Susan wows with a centerpiece. “I always do (did) a buffet and down the middle made a ‘living sculpture’ of all the raw, natural ingredients (bounty) used in the meal (obviously with the exception of the meat). Sprigs of all the different herbs and vegetables and fruits and spices… with tucked small votive candles around.”
Go Easy on Yourself
Liz says to go easy on yourself. “Take some of the pressure off by using ready-made ingredients where you can. For example, no one is going to care or notice if you didn’t use homemade chicken stock… So don’t aim for perfection and try to not put so much pressure on yourself, just enjoy the day and the family you have around you.”
Michele recommends getting the turkey from a caterer and making some homemade sides! That’s her plan 🙂
Thanksgiving Day 2020
Thanksgiving day 2020 is definitely going to look different from other Thanksgiving days and extra precautions will need to be taken if you’re gathering together. Even if you’re planning an intimate event, keep at-risk family members or friends in mind and invite them to join you virtually. However, there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of everyone involved at in-person events. Here are the CDC guidelines for having a safe Thanksgiving day when gathering with family or friends:
What’s your favorite kitchen tip for a smooth Thanksgiving day?
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