Put the Happy Back in Your Holidays: Thanksgiving Meal Prep

Put the Happy Back in Your Holidays: Thanksgiving Meal Prep

It’s a day to celebrate with family and friends, but getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table is no easy task.

Curtis Smith and his team at Spokane Community College’s culinary arts program served Thanksgiving lunch to more than 225 people Tuesday. While you may not have that many guests this week, some of the tips Smith uses can help save you time and stress.

“I was talking to somebody recently who was kind of worried about their first Thanksgiving,” said Smith. “Somebody was expecting them to cook everything.”

His first tip? Don’t.

“Get help,” he said.

If you can, ask your friends and family to pitch in, so you can focus on your own dishes.

“I think the other thing that people don’t understand is they try to cook on one day or on the day of,” says Smith. “They get up at the crack of dawn and start cooking and unfortunately they’re probably exhausted by the time it’s time to eat. They’re probably not even hungry at that point.”

So, prepare early! Make what you can Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Three days in advance make the cranberry sauce and then put it in the fridge and be done with that,” Smith advises.

Got potatoes? You can peel them, cut them, and leave them in water to wait.

“We just baked all of our pies,” Smith said. “So wonderful apple pies are ready to go.”

Dessert is the last thing you’ll enjoy on Thanksgiving, but it can be one of the first things you make. It’ll save time and space to get it done before Thursday.

“People usually only have one oven,” Smith said. “So they’re going ‘Where am I going to put all this other stuff?'”

Thursday, of course, is saved for the main course. The magic number for cooking a turkey isn’t a time, it’s a temperature. Get the turkey done early and you can let it sit – just for a little while – to free up that oven for final touches.

“You got to utilize that time once the turkey comes out to get those sides in the oven,” Smith said.

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