Guys. Thanksgiving—and all the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy—is quickly approaching. Don’t panic. With a bit of advanced prep and planning, you’ve got the food (and general holiday merriment) on lock.
Three Weeks Before: Confirm the Menu
Review the recipes for every dish you’d like to make, skim for any that seem too ambitious (might wanna nix those) and get a jump-start on writing your grocery shopping lists. This is also a good way to have answers at the ready for any guests who volunteer to bring food. Case in point: Mashed potatoes are a must, but you’d rather not spend the morning peeling spuds, if you can avoid it. Assign the dish to Aunt Meredith and it’s off your plate.
Two Weeks Before: Order the Turkey
It’s as simple as calling your supermarket to reserve one you can pick up a few days before the holiday. The rule for calculating what size bird to order? Typically, one pound per person is good. That way, there will be plenty of leftovers. (Hello, the best part.)
One Week Before: Finalize Your Shopping Lists
Start with a blank sheet of paper (or use the Notepad app on your phone) and jot down the name of every dish and the ingredients you’ll need for it. Divide your list into two trips: items you’ll need in advance (say, the turkey, so it can thaw) and items you’ll need a day or two before (like produce and miscellaneous pantry items you forgot on your first trip).
The Weekend Before: Grocery Shopping Trip No. 1
Elbows out. You got this. Just remember: The fastest line at the supermarket is always the one that’s farthest to the left.
The Monday Before: Stock Up on Wine
If you’ve already picked up a case of Cabernet, you’re good (and you probably saved 10 percent). Otherwise, now’s the time to make a run to the wine shop to be sure you have enough vino on hand.
The Tuesday Before: Prep All the Dishes Served Cold
For example, the cranberry sauce or any cold salads on the menu. You can also prep chilled hors d’oeuvres—like a cheese plate—by laying it out on the board, individually wrapped. That way, it’s ready to be pulled out and served.
The Wednesday Morning Before: Grocery Shopping Trip No. 2
Yikes, it’s a madhouse. But you forgot the apple pie requires an extra stick of butter and you need two more shallots for those green beans. Before you go, edit your list so you can zip in and out. It’s also a great time to grab flowers for your centerpiece, foil and extra food-storage containers. (We repeat: Leftovers matter.)
The Wednesday Afternoon Before: Do Your Final Chopping and Prep
It’s about the little things: Chop the veggies, wash the herbs and assemble the stuffing and any other side dishes you can make ahead. Now’s also a good time to bake all ofyour desserts (mmm, apple pie) and set the table.
Approximately Six Hours Before: Prep and Cook the Bird
For every pound, the turkey should roast for 13 minutes. So if you’re serving 24 pounds, it’ll need to be in the oven for a little over five hours.
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL
Five Hours Before: Focus on the Sides
It’s time to make everything you couldn’t whip up the day before: the mashed potatoes (if Aunt Meredith isn’t bringing ’em), the cauliflower gratin, the squash. Remember, you won’t have access to the oven during this time, so stick with cooktop recipes or ones you can pop in the second the turkey is done.
One Hour Before: Whip Up the Gravy and Carve the Turkey
It’s the final step. Worried it tastes too bland? Just add soy sauce for extra kick.
Five Minutes Before: Give Thanks—and Pour Yourself Some Wine
You’ve earned it. For real.