Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Holiday Food- A Timetable (day 8)

Photo Credit
Last year I made my first attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner. My family was in town to meet S, so even though the Holiday was a couple of weeks away, we thought we'd enjoy a mini early celebration while we were together.

The day before our intended feast, somehow the turkey came up. "You have it thawing already, right Rachel?" My mom asked.

"No. Should I?"

"Turkeys take a week to thaw! I guess we won't be having any with our dinner."

Oops. Because of my failure to research and plan ahead, we ended up eating chicken instead of turkey. I learned it the hard way- planning your timetable is key when cooking a successful holiday meal.

Here are a few things to consider as you plan the timetable for your dinner preparations:

Is there anything I can make ahead and freeze? Pies, cookies, dinner rolls and some casseroles can be made weeks in advance and frozen. Check your list, mark these items, and plan a date to make them (sometime before holiday stress kicks in!).

What do I need to buy and when can I go shopping? Some ingredients can be purchased weeks ahead, others only a few days. Make your shopping list (by referencing your meal plan), and mark perishables and non-perishables. Plan your shopping trips accordingly. Make sure to give yourself extra time windows in case if you forget something!

What prep can I do the day before to make the holiday itself less crazy? Chop your veggies, peel potatoes, put together casseroles (so they are ready to throw in the oven the next day) and salads. Whatever can be done ahead, do ahead!

What can only be done the day of? List these items and write down how long they take to make and at what time you will need to start them.

After you've considered these important factors, make a written or typed time table. Every item on your menu will go on this list somewhere. Here is an example:

One Month in Advance: Bake cookies, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pies, freeze.
Two Weeks in Advance: Purchase turkey, canned cranberry sauce, and non-perishable casserole ingredients.
One Week in Advance: Pull turkey out of the freezer to thaw.
Three Days Before: Make final shopping trip. 
The Day Before: Pull pies, rolls, and cookies out of the freezer to thaw. Cut and peel potatoes, stick in pot for boiling, cover with water, and leave on stove top ready to go. Chop and put together ingredients for green bean casserole. Prepare stuffing and appetizers. Set the table.
The Day Of: Start turkey at 10 a.m. Throw casserole in the oven at 1 p.m. Start potatoes boiling at 1:05 p.m. Cook green vegetables. Line cookies on trays, put food in serving dishes with spoons, have dinner ready to go by 2 p.m.

It is theoretical and was quickly thrown together, but hopefully my little example gives you the general idea.

Today's Assignment: Sit down and make your meal timetable. Don't worry about finishing or perfecting it today, just sketch out the basic framework to give yourself direction.

By setting a well-laid timetable and following it through to the end, you are bound to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas day more freely and easily!

Photo Credit
Other Posts in this Series:
Introduction
Gifting- Your Plan of Attack
Gifting- Think Outside the Box
Gifting- To Make or Purchase?
Christmas Cards- Your Plan of Attack
Christmas Cards- Making Your List and Checking it Twice
Christmas Cards- I've Got Your Number
Holiday Food- The Menu

Linked With: Raising Homemakers, and Women Living Well.

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