It’s November 1 today and last night’s Halloween party food is already a thing of the past. It’s time to start looking ahead to the Next Big Food Event. (Does it sometimes seem like we live from one Big Food Event to the next?) It’s time to start collecting Thanksgiving recipes and even start shopping for the Homemade Thanksgiving Feast.
I start by brainstorming a list of all the must-haves for our traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. My list looks like this:
- cranberry relish
- green salad
- cheesy potato casserole
- white potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- green beans
- whipping cream
I’m sure that Laura’s list looks a little different as will yours. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing the specifics and the recipes for the dishes on The List. I also plan to add to the list. For example, I just learned how to make Italian refrigerator pickles. They’ll be a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving table.
After I’ve made my list, I start looking for recipes. (You can browse through the Holiday Recipe category here in the Kitchen where you’ll find a lot of favorites. Like I said, I’ll be adding a few new ones this year, but the ones listed are definitely my family favorites.)
After I find my recipes, I make my shopping list. I like to start early so that I can spread the expense of a large special meal over several weeks. More important, there are some stores that start putting sale prices on the key components of Thanksgiving dinner early. I try to keep my Master List in my wallet so that I’m ready to jump on the great deals whenever I see them.
If you plan to buy a turkey, check out your local grocery stores for specials. All the stores have them. In some parts of the country, turkeys are loss-leaders. I don’t quite understand why this is different in different parts of the country, but I sure do miss living in CO and getting their $4 turkeys. (When we lived there, I’d have a dozen turkeys in my freezer by the end of November! Stocking up on sale birds is a great way to save money over the winter months if you can do it.)
I also try to buy 80 to 120 pounds of sweet potatoes each year from a local grower. These sweet potatoes will debut in our Thanksgiving dinner and then go on to get top billing in a lot of other meals over the next year.
Right now is still a good time to buy a pie pumpkin. Halloween may be over but many stores still have pumpkins. Fresh pumpkin for your pumpkin pie can make a world of difference. There are a lot of other goodies you can make with pumpkin too, so don’t let this season pass without grabbing a couple of these orange beauties.
It’s also a good time to be shopping around for Thanksgiving table decorations. I like to keep my decorating simple and basic; it’s not too early to shop for gourds, squash, and pumpkins if you decide to go that direction. Add a splash of color and some nature to your table decorations by sending your kids out to collect pretty fall leaves whenever the color is at its peak. If you press the leaves in a big heavy book like a dictionary, they’ll still be useable by Thanksgiving (in case your leaves peak earlier than late November.)
All the actual work of Thanksgiving dinner still lies ahead, but having a plan can make this Big Food Event entirely do-able. Having a plan also helps me deal with the stress of a big holiday meal and lots of guests.
So woohoo! It’s November 1 and today, I get to start planing for Thanksgiving Dinner!