Ah, just when the frenetic chaos of moving has died down, here I am neck-deep in Thanksgiving prep! This is the first time in almost ten years that I have actually lived near our family Thanksgiving dinner, so I am pumped. I can actually take the extra days to dry brine our bird, a la Judy Rogers' legendary Zuni Cafe roast chicken. I can plan an extra side dish (or two!) Maybe even an extra dessert (whoa.)
Of course, these grandiose plans mean I have to keep my planning game sharp as heck. I'm over a dozen years into cooking this huge holiday meal, and have learned volumes about scheduling and rolling with the punches over the years. Organization is key, and there are just so many little details to keep track of. A little preparation will reduce the chances of catastrophe and also minimize your stress in a huge way.
A successful Thanksgiving is all about managing your time and your kitchen space. This year I made some preparation and planning sheets that should keep the Tran Clan Thanksgiving perfectly ship shape.I thought I'd put them up here in case any of you guys wanted in on this hot, meal-planning action.
The free 4 sheet PDF set includes:
1) Menu Planner - This is like a little virtual Thanksgiving dinner table where you can lay out the plan for your whole meal. This sheet also includes a shopping list space.
2) Cook's Notes - With spaces for cooking time and temperature, and columns for you to keep track of the vessels you will cook and serve something in. I've definitely gone to boil potatoes in my big stockpot only to realize it's already full of soup. This sheet will also help you fill out your timeline sheets. I printed out 2 of this page for this year's dinner.
3) Prep Sheet - This page has an area for week-of Thanksgiving reminders, like digging out your carving knife and extra salt & pepper sets. It also has a mini timeline for day-before Thanksgiving prep, so you can breathe a sigh of relief when you see all the stuff you can actually take care of before the big day.
4) Thanksgiving Timeline - Fill this baby out well and you should only have a handful of frantic moments on Thanksgiving. Make sure you account for the three steps (prep, cook, plate) of each dish, space everything out right and, hell yeah, you'll be a Thanksgiving badass. I know it seems like a lot of work, but it's seriously better to plan things out beforehand than while you're trying to bring four dishes and a big main course together.
Something unexpected always happens, but that's what makes holidays memorable, right? With my little prep kit in hand I know I can just keep swimming, no matter what little spills and messes occur. I hope it can help you out, too!