Whether you are planning a small dinner or hosting a houseful of guests, we have got you covered. Here are seven Thanksgiving hacks to save you time, stress and money as you prepare for Turkey Day.
1. Get an accurate guest count as early as possible
If you are hosting, this should be your first step – even before you start thinking menus and recipes. Find out exactly how many guests you are expecting for Thanksgiving dinner so you don’t overcook or need to run out at the last minute for more groceries.
2. Plan your menu early
Draw up an exact menu as early as possible before you start stocking up on ingredients. This way, you won’t pick up random food items just in case you may end up needing them.
3. Take stock of your pantry and refrigerator before shopping
Don’t buy anything until you know what you already have at home, this way you won’t be unpacking three cans of pumpkin filling from your grocery bag only to find you already have four cans sitting in your pantry.
4. Use a cooler as extra storage
As you cook your way through your menu, refrigerator space will become a precious commodity. Make room by using a cooler to store bottles of salad dressing and condiments you don’t need for Thanksgiving. Fill the cooler two-thirds of the way with ice so your food items don’t go bad, and keep it in the garage until after the holiday. Use the space these items leave behind in your refrigerator to store the dishes you will need for the great feast.
5. Use pennies instead of pie weights
You need to pre-bake your pie shells before filling them, but you don’t want the shells to puff up and crack. Professional bakers recommend using a pie weight to keep this from happening, but there is no need to waste money on yet another kitchen gadget. Instead, line your pie shell with foil and then fill the center with pennies or dried beans to keep the dough weighed down as it bakes.
6. Buy in bulk
You can save money on your ingredients by buying in bulk. If you do not think you will use that many ingredients, find a friend who is also hosting Thanksgiving dinner and ask about splitting the cost and the item. You will still save on the regular price!
7. Skip the appetizer
Appetizers can take a lot of time to prepare, and you don’t want your guests filling up on finger foods before you bring out your turkey with all the trimmings. Consider skipping the appetizer this year and just starting with a tossed salad.
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