Thanksgiving Host Prep Checklist is all about saving time and stress. Needless to say, I have been writing recipes down and placing them in a binder as a keepsake for my kids. They are in small binders and I call them my cookbooks. Consequently, years ago I wanted to make my Thanksgiving less stressful and more smooth sailing. Hence, I came up with a checklist of things. Every now and then I will add to my list. I tend to be nostalgic and wish every time I added something new I had dated it. Likewise, I wish I had dated all my recipes. These tips are what I personally use and have learned over the years.
Thanksgiving Host Prep Checklist:
Believe it or not, baking and cooking is my hobby. Indeed, even this blog just started as a place to post my recipes. Once my diet changed so did my checklist. One of the things on my checklist that did change was I now make homemade cranberry jelly.
First and foremost, I make a list of how many people I will be serving. Please note that most of the time I am only cooking for 6 – 9 people. Keep that in mind when creating your checklist. Not to mention the average Turkey size is 16 lbs. Before anything else double-check to see if anyone has special dietary needs such as vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free, or if there are any allergies such as nuts. This will make it easier to accommodate everyone. Also, make sure to know the severity of the allergy. For example, many people with nut allergies have severe allergies and can not be around anyone that has eaten nuts. Please keep in mind all of my recipes are gluten-free. Turkey is generally gluten-free. However, gravy usually is not.
Indeed the first thing I do is make sure I know how many are coming and make sure there is enough food for 3 or 4 more just in case. My family enjoys leftovers and most importantly I enjoy not having to cook the following day.
Thanksgiving Host Prep Checklist:
The First Step Choosing Recipes:
First, decide on the recipes. For example. choose what will be store-bought and what will be homemade. For instance, choose if bread is going to be on the table. Next, choose what kind of bread such as white, sourdough, multi-grain, wheat, or gluten-free. Last but certainly not least, choose what type of bread, biscuits, dinner rolls, clover leaf rolls, etc.
Next, decide on which items will be homemade from scratch. Make dinner rolls in advance. Just remember to take it out of the freezer. Make a checklist and place what day and time the dinner rolls need to be removed from the freezer
Decide if purchasing store-bought or homemade desserts. What kind of pie, pies, tarts, or other desserts? If making them from scratch make sure to add them to the list of items needed to purchase at the store.
Decide on side dishes being served. This is also the perfect time to decide if any dishes are being brought and what those are.
I begin budgeting the 1st week of October thru to the 3rd week of November. This way be the time Thanksgiving comes I have saved enough money to pay for it.
Deciding on and Thawing a Turkey:
Furthermore, decide what kind of turkey you want. For example, will it be organic, fresh/frozen, or a name brand? Figure out how many are attending and the size of turkey needed. Generally speaking, most recommend 1 lb. per person. I think think that is a little much considering all the other items. Therefore, I would suggest 1/2 a lb per person. Keep in mind about 20% of the turkey is bones. Will it be deep-fried, smoked, BBQ’d, or oven-roasted? Finally, decide if the turkey will be brined. There are two ways to brine a wet brined or dry rub brined.
Why do you need to have the answers to these questions? Because a turkey takes time to defrost and it can take up to 72 hours to dry brine a turkey. This means it can take up to a week to defrost. Wet brine will usually take two days while dry brine can take up to 3 days. Generally speaking, it takes 24 hours for every 4 lbs to defrost.
Hence a 16-pound turkey will take four days to defrost in the fridge. Keep this information on your checklist.
One Month – Two Weeks Ahead of Time:
Order a turkey now. Any turkey over 17 lbs will need to be ordered. Needless to say, due to my own dietary needs I have to make my own Cranberry Sauce or Lingonberry Jam which is refined sugar-free. This can be made up to one month in advance. Thereby, giving me more time during the week of Thanksgiving. Some desserts can be made ahead of time. Pie Crusts can be made in mini tart pans and frozen up to a month ahead of time. The night before take them out and leave them in the fridge to thaw. Consequently, Pecan Filling, Southern Peanut Pie, Dairy-Free Caramel Tarts, Gluten-Free Pie Crust, Tigernut Pie Crust, Tart Crust, and Chocolate Tart Shells all of which are gluten and grain free.
Thanksgiving Host Prep Week Before:
Clean out your fridge and freezer to make room for the groceries you will be purchasing and leftovers on Thanksgiving Day. Double-check your list. Don’t forget to purchase drinks and Alcohol. Make sure all timers and thermometers don’t need batteries. If so purchase them.
Keep in mind that for every 4 lbs. it takes 24 hours to defrost a turkey.
Now is a good time to prepare a cooking schedule. I like to purchase pop-up turkey timers and turkey-sized oven bags. I personally use oven bags to cook my turkey.
Organization is key and will save you stress and time. Purchase Turkey and all the necessary fixings. Make sure to have enough leftover containers on hand to give to guests. Make Turkey Bone Broth for gravy later this week. Don’t forget to purchase heavy cream if you need it.
Dry Brined Roasted Turkey
To Dry Brined Roasted Turkey or Wet Brine a Turkey.
Three Days Before:
Clean the house. Add table leaf and chairs. Dust if needed.
Purchase any perishable items now such as salads and flowers. Clean the house. If using store-bought bread purchase now.
Two Days Before:
Be sure to take your yeast out of the freezer. Make pie crusts and bread or dinner rolls. If made ahead of time take them out of the freezer to defrost. That includes any Turkey Broth or desserts that have been frozen. Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Sweet Potato Pie can be made now and refrigerated.
The Day Before:
Personally, I cut up my potatoes, put them in a pot, add salt, add water and leave them on my stove the night before. Make green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. Normally, in my family, side dishes are made by someone else. Roast garlic the day before for garlic mashed potatoes. Setting the table will save time on the day of.
Make fruit or fresh fruit pies. It does not keep as well as pumpkin or sweet potato pies.
Calculate all the cooking times needed for tomorrow. Decide what can go in the oven along with Turkey or if there is room. Calculate how long the side dish will take. Using time schedule and calculating when everything goes into the oven. Make stuffing the night before.
Thanksgiving Host Prep Checklist Menu:
Check your time schedule for when to put your turkey in the oven. For any last-minute questions call the Butterball Turkey Talk Hotline at 1-800-BUTTERBALL or go to the USDA website for How to Cook a Turkey.Dry Brined Roasted Turkey Recipe
Place stuffing next to the turkey. Don’t forget to place drinks in the fridge. Prep and make any side dishes.
Remove the turkey from the oven. Allow the turkey to rest before cutting. Depending on the size of the turkey allow resting a minimum of 20 minutes – 60 minutes.
Make the gravy using drippings.
Reheat any items that need it.
Ask for help getting food into serving dishes and utensils.
Place food on the table or do buffet style.
Now it’s time to sit eat and relax.