Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Planning and Cleaning

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Planning & Cleaning

by Sarah @ Love & homemade recipes on November 1, 2010
Herb-Roasted Turkey
Happy November, everyone! I hope you had a fabulous Halloween weekend, and you’re ready to start planning for Thanksgiving! We’ve got a lot to cover in the next three weeks, so let’s begin.
We’re three weeks out from the big day. Daunting, I know. This week, your goal is to start planning your Thanksgiving menu and start deep cleaning.
Menu Planning
When it comes to menu planning, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
  • Think about how many guests you’ll be hosting. Are you feeding two people? A crowd?
  • Keep in mind any big dietary restrictions, like your vegetarian aunt or Celiac cousin.
  • Think about how you’ll keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Be sure you have enough refrigerator and oven space. In most ovens, there’s little room around the turkey. Try to think about recipes that will fit in the oven with the turkey and cook at the same temperature. Also, think about recipes that call for a slow cooker, to help cut down on oven space used.
  • If guests are going to be bringing dishes, keep in mind oven and refrigerator capacity. If they’re bringing a hot dish, have them bring something that can be warmed up in the microwave. Or, ask them to bring cold items that can be packed on ice in a cooler.
After you have an idea of what you’d like to serve, make a list of the menu items, noting cooking times. This will help you get a better idea of when to start cooking them and who will bring each item.
This list is going to be your lifeline on Thanksgiving Day, so hang it on the fridge or in a prominent place so you can refer to it often.
Holiday Deep Cleaning
This first week is a good time to start the process of cleaning out the kitchen. It helps you get an idea of what ingredients and tools you have on hand and what you need to restock.
I like to do this over the course of a couple of days. It helps me focus on one thing at a time. Here are two areas to focus on that will help make preparing your holiday meal a breeze.
Clean Fridge, Freezer & Pantry: Take the time to go through your fridge, freezer and pantry to de-clutter and purge old food.
  • For the holidays, the food in your kitchen should be fresh, so toss foods that are past the expiration date.
  • In terms of the freezer, be sure to get rid of anything with freezer burn.
  • For your spices and canned goods, ask yourself if you’ve used the spice in the last 6 months. If you haven’t, ask yourself if you’ll ever really use it.
  • Consolidate duplicates into one container to help free up space. This will help when you have to start buying items for your Turkey Day dinner.
Once you’ve purged, get a bucket of warm, soapy water and wipe down the surfaces of your fridge, freezer and pantry. Gently wipe off any jars or spices that seem a bit dusty or sticky.
Organize your tools & gadgets: Before you turn on the mixer or start using your mandolin, be sure your essential tools are clean and in working order. Double check to make sure you have all of your baking tools and you’re not missing any tablespoons or teaspoons. Be sure to toss or donate any tools you don’t use. Pull out any duplicates and donate them as well.
Be sure to give all of the tools that you are keeping a good, deep cleaning. Now that you’ve organized your tools, restock anything you might be missing.
OK, I know there’s a lot to think about, so I’m going to let you get started. Feel free to come back and keep me updated on your status. If you have specific questions, leave them in the comment section and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Turkey Day, here we come!

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