Throwback-My Thanksgiving To-Do List

12 Nov

It is Throwback Thursday and two weeks before Thanksgiving so I’m dusting off my holiday planning timeline. Holiday Roast TurkeyI know the ChowChow & Soul™ family includes cooks that stretch from novice to the experienced folks, who are adept at finding their way around the kitchen. We all need to pre-plan and this time-tested guideline is a big help in keeping me on task for the holiday.

Thanksgiving To Do List

Eight to 14 Days Ahead

  • Decide on number of people you’re inviting.
  • Write out the menu and grocery list.
  •  Order turkey to make sure you get the turkey you want, i.e. fresh, frozen, or organic, and the specific size.  If you’re big on leftovers, plan on 1-1/2 lbs. for each adult.
  • Watch for specials and shop for non-perishables.
  • If your menu includes items that freeze well, cook them in advance and freeze them.  Greens, cornbread, rolls, pound cake, etc.

Five to Seven Days Before

  • Complete grocery shopping.
  • Pick up the turkey. If frozen allow (1) day for every 4 lbs. for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Get out the dishes, serving bowls, and flatware, to make sure they’re ready to use.

Monday Before

  • Chop onion, celery, etc. for stuffing.
  • Remove cornbread from freezer to thaw.
  • Toast or cube bread for dressing.

Tuesday Before

  • Prepare gelatin salad if on the menu
  • Prepare desserts.

Wednesday Before

  • Remove any frozen foods from freezer; allow them to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Prep or cook any vegetable just until almost tender.
  • Combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate.
  • If you’d like, prep the turkey according to package directions to cook on Thursday morning. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Set table.


  • Prepare the turkey to cook according to the recipe you’re using.  Plan for the turkey to be done 30 (45 minutes if slicing it in advance) minutes before dinner.
  • Place dressing in turkey or casserole dish to bake.

Two Hours To Serve

  • Unmold congealed salad; garnish and refrigerate.
  • Bake or reheat any pre-cooked dishes.
  • Prepare gravy.
  • Place turkey on serving platter and garnish as desired.
  • Heat rolls or cornbread.
  • Put food in serving dishes.

Break bread, give thanks and enjoy this special time with friends and family.

The next blog posts will cover more info on holiday dishes.   If you have questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Editorial note: I am a former food editor of Southern Living and Ebony magazines, and an editor of Special Fork. I‘m also a spokesperson for the toll-free Butterball Turkey Talk-Line®, 1-800-Butterball.

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