Countdown to Turkey Day: Creating Your Thanksgiving Timetable

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Hello, we meet once again.

Now, we are really getting down to the nitty-gritty of preparing for Thanksgiving. If you are just joining us, you’ll want to play catch-up, but don’t worry. We have a list of everything we need to do to be ready by the 23rd.

When you sent your invitations, you told everyone when dinner would be served. This is our starting point. First, subtract fifteen minutes of human error and buffer time because things never go as smoothly as we want, especially when there are many moving parts.

Will you carve the turkey at the table or in the kitchen before dinner is served?

If you will be carving in the kitchen, subtract another 10 minutes if you are experienced in this art and fifteen if you are new. (Your knife is sharp, correct?)

Currently, we are 25-ish minutes earlier than your planned dinner time.

Now, subtract 30 minutes because your turkey needs to rest after cooking before carving. You have your goal time 50 or 55 minutes before your scheduled dinner. This is when you should plan on pulling your turkey from the oven, smoker, or fryer.

Use this time to determine when your turkey needs to start cooking based on your preferred cooking method and the size of your bird.

If you haven’t purchased your turkey yet and are still trying to figure out how much turkey you need, check out this post to determine your minimum size and how much extra you want for leftovers.

Now that you know how long your turkey will take to cook, you can plan your other menu items’ timetable.

If you will have help in the kitchen, it may be a good idea to either print neatly or type up your plan. This way, everyone knows what needs to be done and when. You can create a 3-ring binder if you use the same recipes year after year. If you tend to vary things, create a sheet and stick it on the fridge or another prominent place. Be sure to put a marker nearby so people can check off what has been done.

Take your list of recipes and determine, based on their cooking methods and tolerance for being held either at a cold or warm temperature, either in the fridge, a cooler, on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker, when each item needs to be made.

Did you know that you can also use a spare cooler as a hot box?

The same insulation that keeps your icy drinks cold will keep your hot foods hot. Assuming this is a cooler with a drain spigot, boil a large pot of water, then with the spigot closed, carefully pour the boiling water into the cooler, close the lid, wait five minutes, and then drain the cooler. Then, line the cooler’s bottom with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and you can store your hot items, like casseroles, dressings, etc., for up to 90 minutes before your meal. Do not store them any longer than this.

Important note concerning the oven space dance:

Remember that items like casseroles generally tolerate temperature variations more than your more delicate baked goods. It is better to let an item like dressing, sweet potatoes, or roasted vegetables deal with a change in temperature than an item that involves more precise factors, like biscuits, cakes, or meringues.

Previously in the Home-Ec 101’s Countdown to Turkey Days We Have:

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