I can still remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever prepared. I was a newlywed and the hubby and I were not only enjoying our first year as a married couple, but our first year as homeowners. That said, I was determined to cook a proper meal for my southern honey and nothing was going to stop me from making it memorable!
I swear, I spent the three-days leading up to Thanksgiving talking to my mother about how to cook all the things I’d come to associate with that meal. So much time,in fact, she suggested we drive down to Savannah and eat at her house–like always.
But, I eventually got everything together and pulled off a great meal for just the two of us–I recall it fondly now as what was once a meal built for two is now one made for 20!
As the number of persons seated at my table has grown over the years, I’ve come to utilizing a system that works for me. I call it my Three “P’s”: Planning, Preparation, and Prayer!
It’s nothing fancy, mind you, but it has kept me from losing my cool/focus when this time of year rolls ’round.
So, let’s jump right in, shall we?
This part starts long before the month of November comes calling.
As much as we all love variety on our tables, you have to admit, there are a number of dishes that we likely share in common and, as such, if we wait too late to buy said items for those dishes, we’ll find ourselves fighting with a lot of other people for their services.
Items like vanilla extract (which I’ve recently decided to start making myself), and elbow macaroni, often leave the shelves fast. And by the Tuesday before, they can be darn near impossible to locate–particularly if you live in a small town or city.
So, my rule is to stockpile early–before Halloween even–and fill my pantry with all the things I’m sure to need on that day. By doing so, I can also take advantage of any great sales that crop up on items that are surely to be more sought after come November 22.
For instance, I bought and froze my turkey weeks ago for $.59/lb and saved a pretty penny. This week that same turkey is $1.99/lb.
Proper planning not only saves me time and money, it keeps me out of the supermarket madness that typically ensues on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior.
Call me crazy, call me anal retentive, or call me silly, but I start cooking on Tuesday…yes, Tuesday!
If I see where I can get certain items done early–say the bread for my dressing or the potato peeling for my potato salad–then I do it.
I do a good deal of my chopping and vegetable prepping on that day as well, you’d be amazed how much time you save by having the simplest of steps already completed ahead of time.
Wednesday is for baking in my house. I get all of my cakes, pies, and other desserts done on this day and start my turkey marinating process that morning as well.
By early Thursday morning, the turkey is taking center stage in the oven and is often the last thing that needs to be done before I retire to get dressed and prepped for the arrival of guests.
Now, some people won’t agree to this method of doing things. Many families make food prep a joint affair and wouldn’t relinquish the camaraderie and chaos they share with their loved ones for anything. But, this works for us.
If you think you still won’t have snafus and hiccups–even after following through on your planning and prep–you’re crazy (haha). There always seems to be something, or someone, to throw things off.
For example, my meal for 20 started off as a meal for five and it was only yesterday that I discovered there would be 15 more at the dinner table!
You just never know, but you go with it and trust that God will be there to keep you centered and focused on the most important part of this blessed day in the first place–spending time with your loved ones.
Just two days lay between us and a lot of delicious goodies.