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Tips for Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

The Market has some tips and tricks that help you get ready for Turkey Day!

by Selena Cox

family enjoying Thanksgiving dinner

It's not too late to plan for Thanksgiving dinner. Start getting non-perishable foods like canned pumpkin, canned cranberries, pie shells, canned veggies, stuffing mix, snacks, paper plates, cups, cutlery, and any cooking utensils you need. You can freeze the turkey, some desserts, and rolls to defrost the day before Thanksgiving.

It's also a good time to clean out your freezer and refrigerator to allow room for your Thanksgiving dishes. Locate and wash your serving platters and utensils and your storage containers for left-overs.

A few things to think about:

How many guests will you be serving?

Does anyone have food allergies?

Will small children be attending? Are there special considerations for them?

Do you need to plan entertainment?

Will you guests be bringing any dishes?

Will you be sending leftovers home with your guests?

Plan the menu. Planning this ahead of time helps give you a guideline of how you would like the meal to look like and give you a general idea of timing for the day. Get together your favorite recipes and begin mapping out what entrées, side dishes, and desserts you would like to make. If you are making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a few basic dishes include:


dressing or stuffing

green beans/green bean casserole


cranberry sauce


The week before is when you can start buying fresh veggies like potatoes, squash, carrots, Heavy whipping cream for dessert toppings will last in the refrigerator. Start making room in your refrigerator to thaw your turkey. According to the USDA, this is the safest way to thaw your bird. For every four to five pounds it takes one day to thaw, so if your turkey is sixteen pounds it would take four days to completely defrost. Now would be a great time to also pick up your ham or any other entrée you would like to serve.

Two to three days before Thanksgiving is when you want to get your perishable items, like green beans, salad greens, and broccoli. Go ahead and wash them, so they're ready to go. You can start making casseroles and place them in oven-safe containers in your refrigerator.

casserole containers

The day before, make easy to reheat dishes, defrost rolls and desserts, and start to brine your turkey. The turkey brine is important and will help ensure your turkey isn't dry. If you want to keep it simple, get a large stock pot, a quart of water, one and a half to two cups of salt and simmer until the salt is completely dissolved. Let the water cool completely. Place your turkey into a brining bag and pour the mixture over the bird. For more depth and flavor, add aromatics like peppercorn, rosemary, mustard seed, and garlic cloves to the brine solution.

On Thanksgiving Day, it's time to get cooking! Get your turkey in the oven - for a sixteen pound turkey it takes about three to four hours. If you like to cook the stuffing inside your bird, add an extra hour. Baste the turkey every thirty minutes. As the turkey is roasting, begin preparing your ham and making your sides. Place the finished sides in the fridge until the turkey finishes cooking. Once done, let the turkey rest for 20 minutes and then heat up your sides, including the casseroles and anything else you had previously prepared.


Place your dishes on the table or buffet. Enjoy dinner with your guests.

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