If you have been roped into making Thanksgiving dinner for your family or friends, or are planning on hosting your first Thanksgiving at your place this year, there are certain food shopping and cooking hacks you need to have in your arsenal before you begin the crazy, tedious, and oftentimes hair-pulling experience that is Thanksgiving dinner prep. Tackling a turkey and sides and desserts is overwhelming on its own, but throw in people who want to "help," and the people who won't get off the couch to help? UGH. NO. BYE.
Thankfully, there are ways to make the process easier — starting the week of your event. I know, you're probably thinking, "The week of? Why so early? I have important sh*t to do!" Hear me out, though. I've been there, the day before Thanksgiving, frantically searching for recipes on Pinterest. Knowing these hacks will save you a ton of time and stress. Plus, you won't have to fight off crazy moms at the grocery store battling for the last can of yams. I'm just thinking of you, sister.
Even if you're a seasoned chef (pun fully intended), you need these 11 hacks before you can make Thanksgiving dinner, so you don't have a stress-induced meltdown over a bowl of soggy potatoes.
Before you go to the grocery store:
1. Create a menu
Stick to one or two proteins (like ham and turkey), and a few sides and desserts. It's not the time to make every Thanksgiving dish you've ever seen on Pinterest.
2. Get a head count for guests
This portion planner from Food Network takes away all of the guesswork, so your guests won't leave hungry (and you won't have more food than you can store).
3. Consider your guests' preferences
Make sure you'll have food options for anyone with food allergies or sensitivities (a lot of dairy and nuts go into Thanksgiving dishes!) and vegetarian dishes, if you'll need them.
4. Write down all of the ingredients you'll need for your meals
It's easy to get tempted and spend a fortune in the grocery store. Stick to what you need.
5. Download your favorite grocery store's app, or pick up a catalog in-store
You can scope out the deals a few days before and clip the coupons for things you want. Again, don't deviate because your favorite shampoo is three for $12.
The week of Thanksgiving:
6. Stock up on basics like butter, flour, milk, and canned goods
Do it now, before the crazies hit the store. Don't forget plenty of liquor.
7. Buy your turkey, and START DEFROSTING THE SUCKER NOW
Seriously, do not wait. Turkeys take an eon to defrost. I swear they're made of ice and frozen dreams.
8. Prep ahead of time
Dice your onions, julienne your herbs, and boil your potatoes for your mashies and casseroles. It'll save you a good hour of cook time. If you're feeling ambitious, you can even make your pies or casseroles ahead of time — just throw them in the oven an hour or so before your dinner.
While you're cooking:
9. Tape your recipes to the cabinets
It sounds silly, but it won't be when you're frantically searching for a piece of paper with sticky pie fingers.
10. Turn on some music
This is just a personal preference, but I love cooking to music. It makes dinner prep seem like a party rather than a chore.
11. Have fun!
So your pie crusts turned out a little burnt, and your turkey is a little dry. Whatever. Have some wine — everything will taste better after a few glasses.
For more Thanksgiving ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.