What Size Bird? from T-Minus Turkey Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

T-Minus Turkey Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Don’t sweat the holiday; you can keep it manageable with a little know-how and planning
T-Minus Turkey Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

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T-Minus Turkey Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

T-Minus Turkey Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

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Thanksgiving is generally a little more involved than slapping a bottle of salad dressing on the table and calling it dinner, so meal planning is essential. Mapping out everything from how long to cook the turkey, to a well-organized grocery list is the difference between a pleasant holiday with family and a headache.

From how to shop, what to cook, and tricks to cut down on the day-of scramble, we have rounded up the necessities to get you through this feasting day. Plan ahead, make ahead, and keep it simple for a healthy, happy holiday.

To help with your countdown to Turkey Day, we have compiled a list of tips, tricks, hacks, and cooking ideas that will keep you on track for a happy holiday with plenty of leftovers.

Before you dive into cooking headfirst, consider these tips and tricks that will keep you thankful this holiday.

Healthy Swaps

Healthy Swaps

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Instead of the heavy green bean casserole, opt for these simple roasted green beans. Skip the starchy mashed potatoes and serve more nutritious sweet potatoes. You will feel healthier and save room for extra turkey.

How Long Will the Turkey Take?

How Long Will the Turkey Take?

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Generally, to estimate how long your turkey will take in the oven, you’ll need to know how much your turkey weighs. Allow 20 minutes per pound for a turkey cooked at 350 degrees F. You will know your turkey is cooked through when an instant read thermometer measure 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

How Many Side Dishes?

How Many Side Dishes?

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When you are trying to minimize the stress, that means letting go of unnecessary or redundant dishes. As a general rule, don’t repeat ingredients. If you are making mashed sweet potatoes, then skip the candied yams.

How to Carve the Turkey

How to Carve the Turkey

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Once you’ve pulled your golden brown bird out of the oven, let it rest for about 20 to 30 minutes to redistribute the juices. Then, starting midway up the breast, slice straight down using a smooth (and not a sawing) stroke. Continue this process until you reach the wing. For the leg, cut the skin holding the drumstick in place and then slice through where the two leg joints meet. Use the tip of the knife to free the wings at the joint as well. Arrange your turkey on a platter with a large serving fork.

Make-Ahead Dishes

Make-Ahead Dishes

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Make-ahead dishes can be a real life saver when you are managing limited stovetop and oven space. Make sure you choose a variety of dishes that won’t all need to be in the oven or on the stove at the same time. Cranberry sauce can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge. You can assemble simple casseroles, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes to re-heat on the stove or in the oven before serving. Use the time the turkey is resting to add any finishing touches.

Managing Oven Space

Managing Oven Space

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Holidays are taxing on you and your appliances. Consider making a schedule, so that you don’t run out of space. Choose dishes that can be dispersed among the oven, stove, microwave, and fridge.

Organize Your Shopping List

Organize Your Shopping List

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Don’t battle through the holiday shopping crowds fighting for the last of the chicken stock or pumpkin. Instead, plan your list out well in advance. See what you need versus what you have, and shop in installments so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

Perfect Pie

Perfect Pie

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Pie happens to be a Thanksgiving classic and the perfect make-ahead dessert to keep you from an additional entire day of cooking. Bake your classic pumpkin, apple, or a delicious fall cranberry pie the day before, and then let it come to room temperature the day of while the main course is served.

Pie Alternatives

Pie Alternatives

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If you really aren’t a pie person, there are plenty of ways to serve the same great flavors of pumpkin pie without the pie, including pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin bread with gelato.

Serve Light Appetizers

Serve Light Appetizers

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Don’t go overboard with the appetizers. Instead, offer light hors d'oeuvres so your guests don’t fill up on snacks before the main course. Crudité and dip with fresh fall produce, like radishes, carrots, and squash, served with a creamy green goddess dressing makes a fresh, healthy starter that won’t stuff. If you want to go on the heavier side, serve simple deviled eggs, an assortment of nuts, or one cheese, like baked Brie with jam that will keep guests occupied.

Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks

Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks

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Running out of time? We get it. That’s why we have this guide for cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner in a time crunch that includes everything from butterflying your turkey for a faster cooking, to how to take dishes from the freezer to the table in 20 minutes without your guests being the wiser.

Vegetarian Alternatives

Vegetarian Alternatives

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If you’re wondering how to celebrate Turkey Day without the turkey, consider this recipe for a Tofu Turkey Roll-Ups and try serving it alongside this rich and delicious mushroom gravy for an added festive touch.

What Size Bird?

What Size Bird?

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Fear of running out of the main course? When you head to the butcher shop or supermarket to pick out your Thanksgiving turkey just remember that one pound per person will ensure everyone has enough to eat.

What to Do With Leftovers?

What to Do With Leftovers?

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If you are lucky enough to end the day with leftovers, then you have to check out our collection of recipes from classic Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches to delicious soups that will make sure nothing goes to waste.

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