10 Tricks to a Trouble-Free Thanksgiving
Quick fixes for common Thanksgiving cooking crises―from an overflowing refrigerator to an undercooked turkey―will guarantee a terrific meal.
Solution: Divide and conquer. Besides the fact that an entire feast’s worth of grocery bags is too much for one woman to carryor one trunk to hold―you’re more likely to forget a key ingredient or encounter depleted shelves if you try to buy everything in one go at the last minute.
Set your Thanksgiving dinner menu a month in advance, then make a master list of what you’ll need and divide it into perishables (dairy products, eggs, produce) and nonperishables (canned goods, spices, baking supplies). Buy everything that won’t spoil as far in advance as you can. Return for the turkey, the herbs, and the cheeses a few days before you begin cooking. Use this Thanksgiving shopping list to make sure you pick up everything you need.
Problem: You got everything inside the refrigerator, but closing the door is another story.
Solution: Empty the refrigerator of all but the essentials. “I’ve found so many things in people’s refrigerators that don’t need to be in there, like vinegars and jars of unopened jellies,” says Jennifer Clair, owner of Home Cooking New York, in New York City.
- Make space for Thanksgiving by cleaning out unidentifiable leftovers and expired condiments and using up as much as possible of what’s in the freezer and the refrigerator.
- Store hearty produce, like apples, fresh cranberries, and potatoes, in a cool, dry place, like the trunk of the car or the basement, says Jessica Leibovich, owner of Entrée Nous, a personal-chef and catering business in San Diego.
- Use a beach cooler for the turkey, casseroles, dips, and other foods that must stay chilled. Filled with ice or frozen gel packs and stowed in the garage or some other cold spot out of the sun, a cooler will keep food fresh for at least 24 hours. (To make sure you’re in the safe zone, place a thermometer inside and make sure it stays below 40° F.)