As I was finishing up my Thanksgiving menu and grocery shopping today I remembered a few tips that make preparing for Thanksgiving so much easier and less stressful. These simple tricks can make a big impact when in the midst of the chaos of entertaining and preparing such a special meal.
1) Create a menu plan.
The menu plan template I created includes the item (recipe/dish), ingredients, where I will buy each ingredient, when to prepare it, what serving vessel I will serve it in, and any additional notes I might have. I print the plan out and use it as my shopping list as well as a guide on Thanksgiving day. Each year I save the document and my chicken-scratch notes to remind myself of what I served that year, which recipes worked, and other lessons learned. The document doesn’t need to be complicated or pretty, it just needs to work for you.
2) Label your serveware.
I generally set out my serveware a day or two before the meal to make sure I have all of the right vessels and to determined how they will work with my tablescape. Once I’ve pulled out all of the vessels, I use post-it notes to label what item will go in what vessel. This not only helps me stay organized, but it is also helpful if you have family who are helping you set out the items — they’ll know where everything goes.
3) Keep recipes and notes in a clear folder.
Once I have determined my Thanksgiving menu, I put all of the recipes in a clear folder along with my menu plan. I take it with me when I go shopping. Before I leave the store I not only check my menu plan/shopping list but I also scan the ingredients on the recipes themselves to make sure I have not forgotten anything. (I hate having to make two trips to the store!)
The clear folder is also helpful because it keeps the recipes clean and visible when cooking. If something spills on the folder, wipe it off and keep on going! No crinkled or smudged paper to deal with next year when you are pulling out your recipes.
I prefer the reusable tabbed clear folders like these. I write the event in pencil and then erase and reuse for my next event.