Thanksgiving Time Savers

Try these ideas to simplify your tasks on the big day:

Planning Ahead:

  • Buy everything that won't spoil as far in advance as you can.

  • Figure out which recipes can be made at least one day in advance. Things like pies, blanched vegetables, and gratins can all be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.
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  • Identify which of the dishes to be made on Thanksgiving Day will take the longest. Work backward from the time you want to eat, allowing 10 extra minutes per recipe.

  • Look at cooking temperatures and see what can go in the oven at the same time. Use multiple timers to keep track of what's in the oven and on the stovetop. Put a Post-it note on each timer so you won't forget which dish it's for.

  • For ease of use, make copies of recipes and tape them to cabinets at eye level or use a magnet to stick them to the fridge or stove hood.

  • Use a beach cooler for the turkey, casseroles, dips, and other foods that must stay chilled. To make sure you're in the safe zone, place a thermometer inside and make sure it stays below 40 F.

  • Ask your guests to bring only dishes that can be served either cold or at room temperature so they won't need to use the oven or the stovetop during those last, busy minutes.

Keeping Food Hot

  • An unused microwave oven is insulated and will keep a hot pot warm for half an hour.

  • A cooler, which will also retain heat, can hold covered pots and stacked foil dishes.

  • An insulated ice bucket or a Crock-Pot can keep rice or mashed potatoes warm. (You can set a Crock-Pot to low for longer periods.)

  • A thermos will guarantee that the gravy stays piping hot.

  • A heating pad inside a soft-sided insulated food carrier is a good way to keep a casserole steamy.

  • Use your barbecue gas grill as a warming oven. Put it on low heat, place a pot or two inside, and close the lid.
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By Sherry from Lake Stevens, WA

November 22, 20090 found this helpful

Chop your vegetables on Tuesday and put them in a sealable bag. For onions, put a moistened paper towel in as well to keep the freshness.

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November 22, 20100 found this helpful

Cook your turkey ahead in a 9x13 pan and freeze, then pour juice and all in a slow cooker. I use a glass baking dish. You free up the oven for other dishes, and you don't have to worry about salmonella, it's less mess, and you have more time to enjoy your guests. It tastes the same. I also buy extra legs because more people like dark at my house. Everybody's happy.

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November 26, 20110 found this helpful

Thanksgiving morning I ran a load of dishes in my dishwasher. When the load was done and I emptied it, the dishwasher was still very warm inside and moist. I placed the thanksgiving cookie sheets with rolls that needed to rise inside the dishwasher and voila! They were beautifully risen and ready to bake in no time, plus they weren't using valuable counter space!

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