Tips for the Holiday Cook This Thanksgiving

posted by Chris Valentine

This Thanksgiving, there is a lot of pressure for the cook to get it right. After all, we’re talking about an event where family and friends come together to celebrate everything they are grateful for! This doesn’t just mean the turkey—you will be doing everything from cooking side dishes to making desserts. With so much preparation involved, here are tips for the holiday cook this Thanksgiving:

1) Keep your workspace organized by knowing your standard kitchen sink sizes, especially if you are thawing a turkey. You want to make sure it will fit. Also, you don’t want to end up frantically searching for that one ingredient or tool later on. It will only make things more complicated and stressful. Keeping the counters, sink, and stovetop clear will also allow you to focus on cooking without distraction.

2) Always read through the recipe from start to finish before you get started. This way, you know what tools and ingredients that you need ahead of time. This is especially important if you’ve never cooked a recipe before.

3) Don’t forget to make a list of any ingredients that you need beforehand. This way, your shopping trip will be much easier and more efficient.

4) Before the big day arrives, do some practicing in advance with each dish until it’s perfect. If possible, invite friends over for dinner to give feedback on how good it tastes. This will also help relieve stress from cooking an entire meal for others by yourself.

5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have little ones, enlist their assistance with the stirring of ingredients or setting the table. This way, they are involved, and it is also a great teachable moment for them.

6) Double check your oven temperature before you stick in that turkey. Nothing ruins Thanksgiving like overcooked food (or undercooked). Keep an eye on things after halftime, too. Make sure not to let anything burn or dry out. You can even choose to cover some foods (like certain vegetables) if needed not to get dried up while cooking. Once everything has finished baking, turn off the oven but leave all dishes inside until completely cooled down.

7) Make sure that you have enough oven space for all of your dishes. It’s essential to make room ahead of time so that everything has the correct amount of cooking time, gets fully cooked (if needed), and doesn’t end up overcooked or underdone due to overcrowding.

8) Clean as you go. This may seem like an obvious one, but it can save time and energy when preparing for the big meal. If there is any mess that has been made (spills, spills), quickly clean them up so they don’t have time to dry up or get stuck on surfaces. This will make the entire cleaning job much easier later.

9) Enjoy yourself. Most of the work is likely done ahead of time. Now it’s about making sure everyone has a great meal to look forward to. Relax, listen to your favorite music, and chat with family and friends while you finish up dinner preparations.

10) Make a list of the dishes that you have prepared so that everyone knows what to expect. You can even include any recipes if people want them. This will help keep things organized and ensure no confusion about what has been made for dinner.

11) Lastly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of learning how to cook. Whether you overcooked that turkey or burned some sweet potatoes on accident, there are always more holidays where you can get another chance at making things right while everyone sits down for a nice meal together.

Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy yourself. This is a time for you to relax, laugh with your loved ones, and be genuinely thankful. Remember, practice makes perfect! So if something goes wrong with one dish, don’t give up hope on Thanksgiving just yet. Try again next year. You’ll be a pro in no time at all. If there are leftovers after dinner is made, it’s best to store them properly as soon as possible; this way, they stay fresh and delicious through the rest of the holiday season.



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