10 Sanity-Saving Thanksgiving Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Check out 10 easy ways to save money, time and energy this Thanksgiving.

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Your Unexpected Thanksgiving Toolkit

This year is going to be different. You've decided on the menu two weeks before the big day, convinced your Aunt Charlotte that you really can live without her famous oyster green bean casserole and remembered to ask your sister to bring her big coffee urn. But no matter how well you plan, you know some problem is going to pop up. No biggie, we say. Here are 10 tricks for tackling everything from "Yikes, who borrowed my fat separator?" to "Where am I going to put everything?" Let the holidays commence! 

 

From Food Network Kitchen

Ice Chest As a Fridge

In the lead-up to the big feast, refrigerator real estate is precious. Clear out those space-hogging bottles of dressing and pickles, and stow them in the garage in a cooler filled with ice packs. Other genius plays with this wonder box: Use it to brine your turkey overnight (make sure to add plenty of ice). Or treat it like a warming drawer — it's insulated, after all. Line it with aluminum foil, add some folded towels and fill it with hot dishes as they come out of the oven. (Employ common sense here and don’t melt your cooler.)

Pennies As Pie Weights

To prevent your pie shell from puffing up during parbaking, experts recommend filling the bottom with pie weights, but you can also use dried beans, uncooked rice, gravel — even screws or pennies (just line the dough with foil first).

Aluminum Foil As a Roasting Rack

The point of a rack is to hold your bird above the pan so heat can circulate evenly. Who says it has to be made of wire or cost a lot of money? If you don't have the store-bought variety, crumple some sheets of foil into thick ropes and wrap them in coils on the bottom of your pan. Or go biodegradable and place the bird on a bed of halved onions, carrots and celery. 

Slow Cooker As Mashed Potato Keeper

The only thing worse than lumpy mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving is cold, gluey ones. To keep your spuds warm when every burner of your stovetop is in use, butter your slow-cooker insert, add a little heavy cream and spoon in the potatoes. Set the temp to low and stir every hour or so to keep your potatoes smooth and silky.

Measuring Cup As a Fat Separator

The secret to great gravy is skimmed — not greasy — pan drippings. If you're without a fat separator, pour your drippings into a large heatproof measuring cup and pop it in the freezer. As the drippings cool, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to skim off with a spoon. 

Thermos As a Gravy Warmer

If it works for minestrone, it'll work for your bourbon gravy. Decant to a gravy boat just before serving.

Salad Bar As a Sous Chef

Shave hours off your prep time by picking up ingredients from the supermarket salad bar that are already cleaned and ready to go — think chopped onions, trimmed beans, sliced bell peppers, hard-boiled eggs and even crumbled bacon. 

Kitchen Cabinets As a Cookbook Stand

Minimize clutter in the kitchen, eliminate flipping back and forth, and protect that fancy computer tablet that you just know is going to get damaged in the cooking chaos by making copies and printouts of the recipes you'll be cooking for the feast. Then, on game day, take a note from FN food stylists and tape them at eye level to the doors of your kitchen cabinets. They'll be easy to read and follow, and you can make notes on the fly — and even arrange them in order of your cooking prep. 

Chicken Broth As a Turkey Reviver

Overcooked the bird? Before you spirit that platter of dried-out breast meat to the table, drizzle it with a little warm chicken broth. It'll help moisten the meat and add flavor. This is also a good trick for perking up slices that have gone from room temp to cold. 

Corkscrew As a Guest Deflector

To keep well-meaning family and friends out of the kitchen during the final flurry of cooking, come up with a few tasks they can do to help. Opening the wine, filling water glasses (which you have placed outside of the kitchen), hanging coats and herding children will all be appreciated — and will guarantee you time to focus when you need it most.

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