Hosting a successful holiday meal is almost all in the planning and this includes the Thanksgiving feast. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, here are five simple Thanksgiving meal planning steps to ensure you have an organized and enjoyable holiday.
This post will walk you through how to plan your menu, compile your shopping list, write out your cooking timetable, prepare your Thanksgiving meal, and enjoy your meal with family and friends.
Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu
Brainstorm what to serve by looking through your recipes, cookbooks, magazines, and online recipe collections. Take into consideration:
- family traditions
- individual favorite foods
- food allergies
- the amount of time you have to prepare
Next, narrow down your menu by choosing foods that compliment each other in color, texture, temperature, and taste. Aim to have a colorful plate with a variety of sensory experiences. Offering a selection of choices helps ensure that everyone can find several foods they enjoy.
If any of your guests have offered to bring a specific dish, accept their kindness. If a guest offers to bring something in general, ask her to prepare an item that will be well-suited considering her time, traveling distance, and budget. Consider asking guests to bring a dish that is easily replaced rather than one of the primary foods. Always have a Plan B in mind in case a guest is not able to come at the last minute.
Put a photocopy of each recipe in a folder so they are all in one place. This way you will only have one folder to keep track of instead of a dozen or more cookbooks, recipes cards, magazine clippings, and online bookmarks.
Compile Your Shopping List
Once you’ve planned your menu, compile your shopping list. First, take an inventory of what you have on hand. Check expiration dates and physically check each ingredient in your pantry, including spices that you assume you always have on hand such as:
Planning a special holiday meal is too important to go by memory! If anything you need is past dated, buy another one. This isn’t the time to take a chance on an old ingredient.
As you check each item, decide if it is something that can be purchased right away and stored or if it must be purchased closer to the actual holiday. Make one list of things to buy immediately and another list for the few days before the holiday.
Don’t forget to include any special items you need to pick up such as:
Add these to the appropriate list.
Write Out Your Cooking Timetable
Using a calendar, decide when to prepare each item. If anything can be made ahead and frozen, by all means do so.
After making a general timetable for November, make a timetable for each of the several days before Thanksgiving. Make notes as to which foods to prepare each day, when to take the turkey out to thaw (if using frozen), and any other specific tasks such as polishing silver, unpacking special Thanksgiving dishes, etc.
Finally, make a timetable for Thanksgiving Day. Write down the times you need to prepare dishes in order for all of them to be done at the appropriate time. Make sure to take into account which dishes need to go in the oven and at what temperature. You might discover you need to adjust your menu if you have too many things to bake or roast in the oven at the same time at different temperatures. If it would make it easier, roast the turkey in a roaster such as one of these.
If you will need help in the kitchen, determine in advance who you would like to help and what you would like them to do. Make a note of it.
Prepare Your Thanksgiving Meal
By Thanksgiving morning you should be in great shape since you have already mapped out all the details ahead of time. Follow the timetable you prepared and troubleshoot any unexpected developments.
Although little glitches may arise, remember that your guests will probably never even notice unless you make a big deal out of it.
A happy and relaxed hostess makes everything taste better!
Enjoy Your Family and Friends
You’ve made it! Your reward for all of your planning is the ability to enjoy this special day and make some great new Thanksgiving memories.
Thanksgiving Music for a Meaningful Celebration
Create a wonderful mood with lovely Thanksgiving music.
Ready to get a start on your Christmas planning as well? Download my helpful A Cozy Christmas Planner!