Monday, November 19, 2012

Prepping Your Kitchen to Fix a Feast

Dear friends,

Thanksgiving is in just three days!  We're getting ready for a big feast for 17 people.   My married daughters are bringing over some of the food, but I know that my kitchen will still be in quite a frenzy this week. I'm trying to plan ahead to reduce the stress.  Five things are extra helpful in the days leading up to a holiday meal...

Clear off your work areas.  Check your kitchen counters. If you aren't going to use an appliance or other item to fix the feast, put it in a cupboard or even in another room for now.  Banish any clutter that doesn't belong there at all.  While you're at it, you might want to organize your dish cupboards.

Clean out the refrigerator and pantry cupboards before you shop.  Make room for all of the extra produce, your turkey, and all the fixings.  You can also clear out old food from some of your plastic storage containers to use for Thanksgiving leftovers.  

I take everything out of the main part of the refrigerator and put it on my nice cleared off counters.  Then I scrub down the shelves and drawers and the inside of the fridge.  After I wipe off the jars, I put everything back in, hopefully more organized than it was before.   Then I do the same thing with the fridge door and my pantry cupboards.  Now everything is ready for adding in the rest of the food we need.  Plus, I can keep track of what food we still have before I shop, so I can know if we need more butter, sour cream, or other food items. 

Plan the meal and consider cooking ahead of time. I actually write out the menu weeks ahead of time so my kids can claim which recipes they want to fix.  They all want to do something!   I'm only doing the turkey this year, if my husband doesn't get to it before I do.  We'll roast and carve it the day before and then reheat it in the broth. 

I have to think of how we are going to cook each menu item so there will be room in the oven and on the stove top so everything can be hot when we're ready to serve.  We will use a crock pot for our traditional wassail.  We'll bake the pumpkin pie and the brownies (for a trifle) ahead of time because the braided egg bread, apple pie, biscuits, roasted vegetables, and scalloped potatoes will need oven time on Thanksgiving Day.  I'm sure our big electric skillet will also be put to hard labor.

Beautiful multi-color peppers
from Fancy Fruit produce market
I wrote out a detailed grocery list and decided where I would buy each food item -- Aldi, Walmart, Sam's Club, or the produce market.  I have actually been gathering some of the non-perishable items over the past few weeks when I've seen good prices.  I set aside a bin in the pantry cupboard for all of my white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions.  I will also group all of the packaged goods in one bin so I can find them easily when I need them.

Take inventory of equipment and supplies.  Do you need aluminum foil or holiday themed paper products?   Do you need to iron a table cloth?  What about your cooking or baking equipment, like serving platters or cookie sheets?  I knew we needed some new sharp knives since we'll be cutting a lot of veggies and fruits.  I just bought a set of Farberware steak knives and hope they'll make good paring knives!   I like the larger Farberware knives I already have.  I also picked up a new Pyrex 9"x13" casserole since one of ours broke (we will need at least three), but I'm going to have to return it since it was chipped when I took it out of the bag.

So that's what I'm up to this week!  Oh, and cleaning the rest of the house!   I also have to make squash and 

homemade cranberry sauce for one of my sons to take to school tomorrow for his class's party.

As a side note, my policy is we that always have holiday meals at our house and invite our kids and other local family members.  We usually have an early meal around 2 PM because my married daughters usually celebrate with their in-laws or friends in the evening.  There is no pressure if they can't make it to our meal for some reason.  I believe in no-guilt holidays!

I'm glad everyone is coming this year since we'll be able to get a new family picture!

Mother's Day 2012

What do you do to prepare for Thanksgiving?  Leave a comment!

Bon appetit!

Virginia Knowles

P.S. Of course there is more to Thanksgiving than food!  Read here:


  1. Great suggestions. I would love for you to add this, and others of your wonderful ideas, to my weekly Mom's Library Link-Up every Wednesday.
    New follower and would love for you to come check us out!
    Be blessed,
    Julie @ Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk

  2. Interesting post. Some good advice, though I can't say much of it applies to me! Living overseas puts a different twist on traditional American holidays!

  3. Great advice! Being organized ahead of time is key to being able to pull off a dinner for a large amount of people, isn't it? I like your idea of emptying the refrigerator and cleaning it before getting everything for Thanksgiving. I'm going to do that for Christmas and Thanksgiving from now on.

  4. This was an excellent and timely post about Thanksgiving. You must have been thinking along the same lines as I was and posting about it too!!

    Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home Wednesdays this week.

  5. This is full of great advice! Thank you for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him last week! Blessings!

  6. Thanks for sharing on WHW. This makes it easier to start Thanksgiving, by having all things tidy.