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4 Steps for Cooks to Enjoy Thanksgivings

Thanksgivings is around the corner and as the ‘cook”, you can affrim that this can be as overwhelming as it is enjoyable. After hosting countless Family Thanksgivings dinners, I have continued to find ways to make the entire Thanksgivings experience as stress-free as possible. The hack is simple-PLAN.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan…ahead that is.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to prepare for the most anticipated dinner of the year. Although you may feel like “well it’s just family”, holiday dinners require strategic planning or it can become very chaotic and disappointing at times. Planning entails, making sure you have enough food and space to serve everyone, which means obtaining a head count and accounting for the possibility of drive-by guests and to go plates. It also includes grocery shopping-what day do you plan on purchasing your items? Do you really want to settle for a smaller turkey because you waited last minute; or even worse, a late Thanksgiving dinner because you bought the Turkey on Wednesday and it hasn’t completely thawed? There are too many possibilities for disasters. Think of Pre-planning as your Risk Management Policy.

2. Keep it Simple.

Okay you may be the next Salt Bae, but now is not the time to experiment. Stick with a traditional menu that you know works well. Being that you are the cook, obviously they trust your taste, make sure you keep their trust. If you would like to try something new and different, I would suggest testing it once BEFORE Thanksgivings and adjust as needed. This prevents from serving a disgusting dish and not finding out about it until everyone takes a bite. Nothing disappoints people more than looking forward to a mouthwatering meal only to lose their appetite. I prefer to cook dishes I’ve cooked time and time again, that kind of makes the meal foolproof. As for the décor and dishes, keep it simple-a nice linen tablecloth or no tablecloth at all. Who cares? We are more interested in the food that’s placed on the tablecloth. Save yourself the trouble, no one will really notice if your tablecloth had a ‘Harvest” theme. And remember, the dishes you choose will also be the very dishes you will be washing… paper or styrofoam plates it is!

3. Delegate.

Ladies and gentlemen, boss up and ask for help. Yes you are the King or Queen for that day , but the boss is only as good as his team. I do not elicit the help of everyone but I do grab someone to get my brine started, someone to wash as I cook, and someone to place all of my ingredients in the order of use. That’s 3 people at most, not a big deal. Having help keeps me from being grumpy, tired, and over it. I once believed I needed to do it all, but there is a sense of delight in knowing I’ve taught someone something new by asking them to help in the kitchen. Believe me, they will love you for it and you will love yourself.

Side note- Mac n Cheese is a sacred dish, DO NOT ask the most incompetent in the kitchen to help with this dish! All help isn’t good help…

4. Say No.

You are cooking, cleaning, shopping, and possibly decorating for what seems like forever for just one day. No we cannot have an 8 layer cake, no I cannot cook a snack to hold you over, no I cannot pick so and so up from the airport, NO ,NO, NO! Refer to #3

All things considered, Thanksgivings is one of my favorite holidays; I have family members who have been waiting the entire year just for the dinner. In the past, Thanksgivings Day has been overwhelming and I’ve even experienced losing my appetite on the day of from being so exhausted. I’ve had the ultimate kitchen fails and disappointment, but each year has been easier and easier because of simply planning. Keep it simple and stick with the tried and true…or your dish may make this year’s Thanksgiving Meme hash-tagged #WhoRaisedYou or #RIPAppetite