Plan for the Big Meal

From fresh meat and produce to homemade treats, prep for your best Thanksgiving yet.

 

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Plan Like a Pro

Prep now and thank us later.

Putting together a big meal is all about strategy, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. If you're not sure where to begin, that's okay! Let us show you how to tackle this holiday one day at a time.

Two to Four Weeks Prior to Thanksgiving

  1. Secure your Kitchen Essentials: Make sure you have the proper kitchen essentials needed to prep your dinner. Your must-have list should include a turkey baster, fat separator, roasting pan, poultry thermometer, roasting rack, and a carving set and carving board.
  2. Create your Grocery List: Create a list of all ingredients you'll need for the dishes you are preparing. Our tip - separate your list into non-perishable items and perishable items. You'll want to purchase your non-perishables ahead of time!
  3. Order or Reserve your Turkey: Secure your turkey by reserving it ahead of time at the meat counter in your local Tom Thumb. If however, you're opting for a frozen turkey, pick it up as soon as you have room in your freezer!

One Week Prior to Thanksgiving

  1. Shop for Non-Perishables and Bar Items: Purchase your canned goods and dry ingredients (like chicken stock, butter, stuffing mix, nuts, baking ingredients) turkey brine kit, and paper products. Additionally, we encourage you to stock up on your beverage essentials like waters, sodas, beer, wine, etc.
  2. Prepare Items Ahead-of-Time: Things like soups, cookies, cookie or pastry dough can be made ahead of time and stored in your freezer.
  3. Plan Your Cooking Schedule: Create a schedule to follow to set yourself up for success. In addition to freezing things well in advance, other items like desserts, baked breads, and cranberry sauce can be made 2-3 days in advance.

2-4 Days Prior to Thanksgiving

  1. Shop for Perishables: It's time to purchase those fresh ingredients like vegetables, turkey, fresh herbs, and store-made items like fresh cakes, cookies, and pies.
  2. Defrost Your Turkey: If you've opted for a frozen turkey, now is your time to begin defrosting your bird. Tip - allow one day of thawing per 4 pounds of turkey.
  3. Get Baking: If you're also handling the desserts, now is a great time to begin baking. If you're opting for store bought, purchase today for optimal freshness.

1 Day Prior to Thanksgiving

  1. Set your Table: Set the table in advance so you don't have to worry about it when guests are arriving.
  2. Prep Side Dishes: Side dishes like casseroles, mashed potatoes, and stuffing can be made a day in advance, refrigerated overnight, and re-heated the next day.
  3. Set up your Beverage Station: Make it easy for guests to help themselves to drinks throughout the day.

Thanksgiving Day

  1. Prep and Cook your Turkey: It's time to cook your bird! Start by rinsing the turkey and letting it sit at room temperature for one hour prior to cooking.
  2. Prepare your Appetizers: Cook your appetizers and serve to your guests.
  3. Re-Heat your Sides: Re-heat your prepared side dishes. We recommend re-heating "low and slow", about one hour prior to eating.
  4. Make the Gravy: Cook up your delicious gravy so it is ready to eat alongside your meal.
  5. Savor it All: Enjoy your delicious meal, and the family and friends around you. Cheers!

Choose the Right Sized Bird for the Job

Wondering just how big your bird should be? Use this fool-proof equation to calculate how much turkey you’ll need to feed everyone.

Tips

  • Once you’ve got the turkey, give it enough time to defrost (if you've opted for a frozen turkey) before following proper cooking times. We suggest allotting one day of thawing per 4 pounds of turkey.
  • For a whole turkey, plan on using this general rule of thumb: 1 ¼ pounds of turkey per person.
  • Rather than trying to fit a 25-pound turkey in your oven, you might want to cook two smaller birds. If preparing more than one turkey seems like a ton of work, we also recommend preparing a few bone-in breasts to achieve the right amount of turkey for your group.
  • If you’re hosting a smaller Thanksgiving for two, consider a boneless turkey breast instead. But note the formula for how much turkey per person is different. Plan on about ½ pound or 8 ounces per person.

Thaw, Prep, Cook

Follow our turkey tips to ensure your big bird is the best it can be.

How long does it take to thaw a turkey?

  • Refrigerator: For every 5 pounds, thaw 24 hours.
  • Cold Water: For every pound, thaw 30 minutes. Submerge wrapped turkey, breast side down, in large container filled with cold water. Replace water every 30 minutes.
  • Cooler: For every pound, thaw 1 hour. Place wrapped turkey in large cooler, lid down. Keep turkey refrigerated after thawing.

How do I prep a turkey?

  1. Remove the neck and the bag of giblets. Discard them, or save them for gravy. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
  2. Next, season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff it with the quartered lemon, onion, apple and herbs.
  3. Tuck the wings underneath the turkey and set it on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Tucking the wings prevents them from burning, and helps the turkey sit flatter.
  4. Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts and smooth a few tablespoons of butter underneath. Use some twine to tie the turkey legs together. Then slather the outside turkey in the rest of the butter.
  5. That’s it! You are ready to let your oven do the rest of the work!

How do I cook a turkey?

  • How long should I cook it? 13 minutes of cooking time for each pound of turkey if roasting empty and 15 minutes per pound if stuffed.
  • What temperature do I cook it? Preheat the oven to 450°F then drop the temperature to 350°F after putting the turkey into the oven.
  • What temperature should the turkey be? The turkey is done when it registers a minimum of 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh.
  • How long do I let it rest? Rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Thanksgiving Day Food & Dishes