Thanksgiving Planner: Two Weeks to Go

Whether you’re cooking for 4 or 40, you need a game plan going into Thanksgiving. We're here to help.

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If you spin into a frenzy just thinking about the chaos that is Thanksgiving, you’re not alone. There are a lot of moving parts and everything has to be ready to go at the same time. A little bit of foresight will help you plan your Thanksgiving and allow you to even get to enjoy the food and family around the table.

We’re about two weeks away from the big day. But before you can even think about getting that turkey in the oven, plans need to be solidified and ideas finalized.

The Guests

At this point you should have a good idea how many people will be showing up, how many of those people are staying over and where they’re all going to park when they get there. Once you nail down the guest list you can start requesting what everyone should bring (not just talking sides and desserts here – call in favors on a coffee urn or extra coolers for cold food storage). One last suggestion for your guests: make sure they know to bring something that can be served at room temperature or reheated in the microwave or toaster oven. Ovens are going to be filled to max capacity and you won't want the day-of stress of finding extra room for a rogue baked brie.

HOW TO ROAST A TURKEYLaura WallisThe Simplest Roast TurkeyFood Network KitchensWhole Turkey, Salt, Pepper, Onions, Lemons, Herbs,HOW TO ROAST A TURKEY Laura Wallis The Simplest Roast Turkey Food Network Kitchens Whole Turkey, Salt, Pepper, Onions, Lemons, Herbs

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The Turkey

Unless you want to be fighting for the last turkey in the frozen section next week, order one ahead of time. Having trouble deciphering the turkey talk? This guide will help you understand the difference between frozen, free-range and fresh. Figure 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per guest, which includes some wiggle room for leftovers. More suggested turkey reading here.

Blank cookbook and spices

Blank cookbook and spices

Blank cookbook and spices on wooden table

Photo by: Alexander Raths

Alexander Raths

The Menu

Think about what dishes did well last year, what you want to experiment with this year and needs to be on the table every single year. Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite menus for Thanksgiving. Also take some time and think about your guests’ dietary restrictions or tastes. Every dish isn’t going to be a winner for every person, but being thoughtful is always appreciated.

These cooking tools and utensils will get you through Thanksgiving Dinner.

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

Marshall Troy, 2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

The Gear

Run through your kitchen cabinets and make sure you have everything that you’ll need. Besides the obvious roasting pan and rack, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of prep bowls and measuring cups, too. Find a complete checklist here.



Young woman cooking in a kitchen

Photo by: Yuri_Arcurs/iStock


The Game Plan

Keep all of this information together in a place that you can come back to it and make changes, whether that’s on a piece of paper, document on your phone or computer. If there’s more than one key player in the kitchen, consider a shared document that you can all edit and make changes to. All assignments are shared and everyone knows what to show up with. You’ll also want to break down your ingredients into three parts: household staples that you don’t need to buy specially for Thanksgiving but will want to have on hand, the nonperishable grocery items and the perishable ingredients like herbs and produce.

Now that you’ve got your plan in place, you can rest easy. Or, go the extra mile and make your Thanksgiving feast ahead of time and store it in the freezer. Want the full scoop? Find the complete countdown planner here.

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Don’t Throw That Out: Thanksgiving Edition

Follow these handy tips and ideas for repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers.