You may think your Thanksgiving meal preparation will be similar to your mom's or your aunt's, but you're wrong. Yours will be unique because your turkey will cook for a longer or shorter time, depending on its size, and you'll be cooking other, or more, dishes. Each dish you choose will have its own assembly requirements. Some things will need to be chilled before cooking, so they'll require refrigerator space. Others will have to go into the oven at about the same time but require different cooking temperatures.
These challenges will be unique to your experience of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. You may have to dial back on the cooking temperature for your green bean casserole in order to cook the apple pie, or vice versa. You might have to put the fruit salad in the garage fridge or even in the freezer for a few minutes so you'll have room to chill the macaroons. Juggling all the details gets easier with experience, but if this is your first or second time at it, planning is the key to getting everything prepared on time without one or two culinary casualties.
Take a look at your recipes and start strategizing your approach even before you buy ingredients. You may discover that one of your choices is just too much of a hassle, or that it's more logical to have someone else prepare a particular dish. If you know what to expect, you have options. You can cook some things ahead of time, and when your sister asks if she can bring anything, you'll have a ready answer, and it will be the right one.
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- Betty Crocker. "Cooking Turkey Tips." Undated. 10/4/10.http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/cooking-basics/meat-poultry-and-fish/Cooking-Turkey-Tips.htm?WT.mc_id=paid_search_200101_636117&WT.srch=1&esrc=11151
- Food and Wine. "Ultimate Thanksgiving Planner: Time-Saving Tips." Undated. 10/4/10.http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/ultimate-thanksgiving-planner-time-saving-tips
- Info Please. "Turkey Facts." Undated. 10/4/10.http://www.infoplease.com/spot/tgturkeyfacts.html
- Jackson, Kimberly L. "Thanksgiving Tips: Ten ways to make things easier." The Star Ledger. 11/20/09. 10/3/10.http://www.nj.com/homegarden/entertaining/index.ssf/2009/11/thanksgiving_tips_the_top_ten.html
- Martha Stewart. "Martha's Thanksgiving Tips." Undated. 10/4/10.http://www.marthastewart.com/article/marthas-thanksgiving-tips
- Perfect Entertaining. "Creating the Perfect Turkey." 2001 - 2003. 10/4/10.http://www.perfectentertaining.com/thanksgiving/turkey.html
- USDA "Household Commodity Fact Sheet - Turkey." 4/09. 10/4/10.http://www.fns.usda.gov/FDD/facts/hhpfacts/New_HHPFacts/Meats/HHFS_TURKEY_ROAST_A537_Final.pdf
- USDA. "Let's Talk Turkey-A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey." 7/17/06. 10/4/10.http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp
If you're planning on deep-frying your turkey for Thanksgiving, HowStuffWorks Now recommends reading this first.