Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Meal Planning Made Easy

In my early young bride days, I was usually a mess on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.  Only because my legs and feet were aching from being on my feet all day from cooking, cleaning and hostessing.   Needless to say,  I learned early on that these days were A LOT of work!  Years later I was able to get help from the likes of Martha, Ina, and some home shows on TV.  I learned to plan ahead, cook ahead and even look like Donna Reed on that special day, well almost.
Although it's not too late to post and share my method for Thanksgiving this year, there's plenty of time to also utilize this for your Christmas meal as well.
(Click on each image to view larger image.)
Grab a pen and some paper.  Make a list of your menu* (see sample image above)
I pulled this menu from my very own menu that I use every year.  As you can see, I'm very traditional and my family and I look forward to these favorite foods every year.  Anyway, scour your cookbooks, grandmas recipe box and the internet to find recipes you want to serve.  Gather all the recipes together.
In the image above, here are some sample recipes from my very own menu list.
STEP TWO:  On another sheet of paper, title it "Draft Shopping List" as this won't be the list you'll be taking to the store.  Begin to write down every ingredient (I also like to use the amount but that's up to you) from each recipe.  In the image above, I'm using two recipes from my real Menu List, G'mas Jello Salad and Mashed Potatoes as an example.  Once you write down the ingredients from each recipe, take this list to your kitchen.
STEP THREE:  As you're in the kitchen with your draft list, go through your cabinets and refrigerator.  Scratch off each item that you have and don't need to buy. This saves you from guessing and it also saves you $$!
STEP FOUR:  Grab a clean sheet of paper and title it "Shopping List".  Transfer everything  that's left from your "Draft Shopping List" onto the new sheet. This is the list you'll be taking to the store with you.  Obviously, this list will be a lot longer from other items on your real Menu List.
I also create a calendar list that helps me spread out all the work from the Saturday before Thanksgiving through to the Big Day.
Try to get your grocery shopping over and done with no later than the Friday before Thanksgiving.  The stores will be crowded but they'll be more crowded the week of Thanksgiving not to mention, empty shelves.
Enlist family members to help with chores.  If a guest offers to bring a dish, by all means, say yes!! It doesn't say anywhere you have to do it all, right? Donna??  
On the big day, don't forget to remove the dishes from the refrigerator to heat just before serving.  I usually will take it out about 30 minutes before I heat it up in the oven or the microwave.

If you plan ahead, I can almost assure you that on Thanksgiving Day, even Donna Reed will be jealous!  and ladies and gentlemen, this is how I roll! 
I haven't shopped on Black Friday in probably over a decade and I like it that way. I relax on Black Friday and shop on Cyber Monday :)
I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday spent with family and friends.  I hope this post will help you.  Feel free to ask any questions should you have any.
Feel free to print these blank forms to help with your planning:


* Keep your menu and place it on your refrigerator with a magnet to serve as a checklist and to make sure you don't forget anything.

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