As Thanksgiving approaches, the majority of our calls are about preparing for the holiday. So many people are stressed over preparing a big meal and having a large group over for Thanksgiving dinner. It seems that in our busy everyday lives, we spend less time preparing food and more time ordering food from restaurants.
Preparing the holiday meal does not need to be overwhelming. The tradition in many families these days is more of a pot luck style; different family members contribute a dish or two. Even if you must prepare the entire meal, there are many ways to make it easier.
Remember that many foods can be prepared and frozen a week or two before the big day. Cooling the food rapidly and wrapping it properly will ensure top quality food. Make sure that you use containers or wraps designed for the freezer. Careful packaging will eliminate the formation of ice crystals on the product. Too much air inside the wrapping can also lower the quality of the food.
You may not be aware, but it is possible to make a pumpkin pie and freeze it unbaked. Simply baking the pie on Thanksgiving or even the night before will eliminate the messy and time consuming process yet yield a fresh baked pie for the holiday.
Baked goods that are lower in moisture freeze well and maintain their quality well. Consider making a batch of rolls now and freezing them.
Many foods can be prepared early. One of the AnswerLine staff members cooks her turkey the day before Thanksgiving and cuts the meat off of the bones. She lays the meat in a pan and covers it with broth; the meat is tender and moist on Thanksgiving and the cleanup is minimal. Salads are often a great choice for early preparation. Ingredients for salads or other dishes can be prepped and measured in advance and then combined on Thanksgiving or the evening before.
However, some foods will not be safe if prepared early. Preparing stuffing in advance and then putting the stuffing inside the turkey is risky as the time between preparing and baking would be long enough to allow bacterial growth. For the same reason, potatoes should not be peeled ahead of time and cooled overnight before cooking.
House cleaning, table setting, and planning are steps that work well in advance. Making a master check list of tasks to be done and times to begin cooking foods will help destress the holiday. And it will allow you to easily assign tasks to helpful family members.
Remember that we are here for you in the days before Thanksgiving. Give us a call and we can help you with tips and short cuts. We can also help you calculate the amount of food you will need to purchase. For your convenience, we will remain open over the noon hour on the three days before Thanksgiving.
We look forward to visiting with you and answering your questions.