10 Ways to Master Thanksgiving Prep and Planning

 

Thanksgiving prep and planning is right around the corner as Canadians across the country gear up for one of their favourite holidays of the year. Thanksgiving has been my long standing favourite holiday for so many reasons. With warm days and cool nights, the weather is often perfect for spending time outdoors over the long weekend. We usually split our time between cleaning up the yard for the winter and taking in all the rides, displays and agriculture at the Fall Fair. Thanksgiving  is far less stress than other holidays thanks to no gifts to fret over but the meal is a complete showstopper as always.

Our family serves a full turkey dinner each and every year and we wouldn’t have it any other way. For tips on preparing the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, check out these ten tips.

thanksgiving prep and planning

10 Ways to Master Thanksgiving Prep & Planning

This post is sponsored by Canadian Turkey

1. For an easy way to ensure extra-crispy skin, unwrap your turkey the day before you are planning to cook it and leave it in the fridge overnight. The extra drying time will add the perfect crispiness to your turkey.

2. Make sure you use a good quality meat thermometer to ensure you cook your turkey to the perfect doneness without overcooking. Test your thermometer a few days ahead of time to make sure it is working properly.

3. Consider cooking your turkey in parts – breasts, thighs and drums – for a quicker, foolproof way to get the meat cooked perfectly.

4. Get a head start on your meal! You can prep all of your staples like onions, celery and carrots up to 3 days beforehand. Dice and store in storage bags. Green beans, squash and salad greens can be washed, trimmed, and chopped beforehand. Store these in storage bags for ready-to-cook sides.

5. For a large crowd, consider hosting a buffet-style meal. Spread your dishes out in the kitchen or dining room and let people self-serve and mingle while they eat for an easier-to-serve, fun meal with a casual feel.

6. To reduce cooking time, cook your stuffing on the side. This way you can get more of your favourite crunchy bits while cutting down on cooking time in the oven.

7. Plan ahead and make a ‘smart’ shopping list. Organize it by staples you can buy in advance and perishables you need to buy a few days before, then organize according to sections of the grocery store. This will make grocery shopping a breeze and save you precious time.

8. Look for make-ahead sides that you can make a day or two beforehand and taste delicious re-heated. Bookmark a website with tasty and reliable turkey recipes and resources, like www.canadianturkey.ca, so you’re ready for the big day!

9. To plan for leftovers, order a turkey that is several pounds bigger than what you need. Extra turkey can be stored and frozen to use for quick and easy meals later on.

10. Leftover turkey freezes well. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for a quick start to a weekday meal. Visit www.canadianturkey.ca for recipe inspiration and create salads, soups, pastas or casseroles in a snap!

apple, sage and shallot stuffed holiday turkey

Looking for additional tips, recipes, Turkey Basics videos and HOW TOs? Visit canadianturkey.ca for all your cooking inspiration. Canadian Turkey makes your Thanksgiving easy with all the recipe suggestions and turkey prep tips you need. The Year Round Whole Turkey HOW TOs section will help you prepare a whole Canadian turkey for your friends and family for any occasion. And the recipe section is filled with delicious recipes for whole turkey and turkey cuts so you can get tasty, nutritious and versatile turkey on your table every day!

One of the best things about roasting a whole turkey is having delicious leftovers that are perfect for feeding your family later on during the week.  It’s like making two meals in one!  Turkey leftovers give you so many options for making a new and tasty main meal for your family.  And don’t forget that the leftover bones make amazing stock or soup!

Be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide To Thanksgiving downloadable e-guide for some tasty turkey recipes and pro tip this Thanksgiving. 

roast turkey dinner

Comments

  1. kathy downey says:

    I learned the safest way to thaw a turkey is on a tray on a bottom shelf in refrigerator.

  2. you need at least 5 hours to thaw a whole turkey

  3. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    THAWING A WHOLE TURKEY, always a tricky business, we do as is mentioned, put the bird in a deep tray in the bottom of the fridge.

  4. I leaned tips on how to carve a whole turkey.

  5. kristen visser says:

    I learned how to carve a turkey. Really I have never cooked or carved a turkey before. It is always my mom and mother in law who did it but this year we are hosting at our house

  6. Florence Cochrane says:

    I am interested in deep frying a turkey and learned to dry by patting with paper towel, both inside and out tp prevent splatter of oil.

  7. I would love to try the spatchcocking of a turkey

  8. Rosanne Robinson says:

    I’m hosting thanksgiving, so will be upsizing our turkey, love having lots of leftovers!

  9. Rosanne Robinson says:

    I learned about spatchcocking of a turkey.

  10. Debbie White Beattie says:

    Turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey, or 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed turkey and the juices run clear.

  11. not sure if I would do our Thanksgiving turkey but would love to try the…“Spatchcocking” or Flattening a Whole Turkey

  12. I have learned the safest way to thaw a turkey is on a tray on a bottom shelf in refrigerator

  13. Brining a Turkey. I never knew anyone did this. Interesting but I don’t think I would do it.

  14. spatchocking leads to more even cooking. thanks

  15. In reading about defrosting a turkey, I learned that you should put the bird in a deep tray in the bottom of the fridge to do it.

  16. I learned that keeping the turkey in the refrigerator the day before cooking will give the turkey a crispier skin.

  17. Calculate 1 lb (450 g) per person. Or if you want leftovers, count on 1.5 lbs (700 g) per person.

  18. Juliee Fitze says:

    I learnt never defrost your turkey at room temp. ,always do it in the fridge or in cold water.

  19. Martina Junkin says:

    I learned the importance of thawing a turkey. Deep in the bottom of the fridge it goes

  20. I learned that if you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven (once per hour is sufficient). I think I did it too much.

  21. Karla Sceviour says:

    Do not stuff your turkey if deep frying it!

  22. I learned you can actually check with a calculator what size of turkey to buy! Game-changer!

  23. I’d forgotten this, that the temp. is different for stuffed vs. unstuffed: Turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey, or 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed turkey.

  24. I learnt that a whole turkey can be kept frozen for 1 year

  25. I learned about BRINING A WHOLE TURKEY PRIOR TO ROASTING and it’s not at all as hard as I thought it would be

  26. I learnt that when roasting a stuffed turkey the stuffing placed in the cavity of the bird should read and internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).

  27. How to brine a whole turkey!

  28. Cooked turkey can be stored in a covered container, plastic bag or aluminum foil for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

  29. I learned to not stuff a turkey packed full of stuffing because it expends while cooking, and also that it makes 1 hour per pound to thaw a turkey in COLD water 🙂

  30. The safest way to thaw a whole frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water.

    Never thaw your turkey at room temperature!

  31. Learned that Whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year.

  32. Yes! Definitely.. to make leftover soup, turkey pies, etc!

  33. GobbleGobble says:

    I learned how long to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator. The rule is allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound (10 hours/kg). (https://www.canadianturkey.ca/wholebird/thawing/)

  34. When roasting a turkey, the meat thermometer should read 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey, or 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed turkey.

  35. Clare O'Brien says:

    I learned that you should never thaw a turkey at room temperature.

  36. Interesting. I found that keeping the turkey in the refrigerator the day before cooking gives the turkey a crispier skin.

  37. I learned that keeping a turkey in the fridge the day before cooking will give it a crispier skin.

  38. do not pack your stuffing tightly into the turkey as it is going to expand while cooking…I have been making that mistake for many years….now I know better!

  39. Heather Swanson says:

    No plans for extras this this year

  40. I read the safest way to thaw a turkey is on a tray on the bottom shelf in a refrigerator

  41. wendy hutton says:

    Whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year.

  42. Edith Rennes says:

    I learned how to calculate the time to roast per pound.

  43. Cathy Balogh says:

    Whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year. Great for buying on sale and using enjoying later in the year.

  44. Sarah Ferguson says:

    Thaw the turkey in the fridge. 5 hours per pound.

  45. LILLIAN BROWN says:

    i learned All turkeys processed in a federally inspected plant bear a “Canada Approved” or “Canada” health inspection stamp. This stamp tells you that the product is safe to eat.

  46. I usually use the Refrigerator Method of thawing a turkey and its always hit or miss for me, but I learned on the Canadian Turkey website that on average it takes 5 hours for every pound of turkey. Good to know.

  47. Julie Bolduc says:

    I learned that you should allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound of turkey

  48. Mike Gismondi says:

    Unwrap the turkey the day before for crispy skin

  49. Learned that I should defrost a turkey in the fridge or in cold water and to allow for 5 hours per pound of turkey.

  50. I’m going to leave my bird unwrapped it the fridge overnight so it will be crispy on the outside.

  51. Victoria Ess says:

    I learned that you can keep a turkey frozen for a year!

  52. Robyn Bellefleur says:

    I learned the safest way to thaw a turkey is on a tray, on a bottom shelf in your refrigerator.

  53. I learned it takes 5 hours to thaw a turkey

  54. I learned about “SPATCHCOCKING” OR FLATTENING A WHOLE TURKEY

  55. Lorna Webster says:

    I learned how to efficiently carve a whole turkey!

  56. sarah alexis says:

    I learned – If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven (once per hour is sufficient).

  57. I learned how to prep a turkey and brine it before cooking it.They encourage us to use different spices and herbs in the brine and to leave it in the brine in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.

  58. Margaret Huitema says:

    i learned If you are going to deep fry a turkey, using a frozen turkey, be sure that the turkey is totally thawed before immersing it in the oil.

  59. Brenda Witherspoon-Bedard says:

    Turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) for an un stuffed turkey or 180°F (82°C)

  60. Marc-Andre Taillefer says:

    I learnt that a whole turkey can be kept frozen for 1 year

  61. Tammy Dalley says:

    I learned the importance of thawing a turkey!

  62. Chris MacDonald says:

    I learned that brining a turkey adds flavour and moisture. I have never brined a turkey but I will try it this year!

  63. I learned that thawing a turkey in the fridge or cold water is the safest way to do it. Thanks! 🙂

  64. Yum 😋

  65. Jennifer Ann Wilson says:

    Calculate 1 lb (450 g) per person. Or if you want leftovers, count on 1.5 lbs (700 g) per person.

  66. I learned that when roasting a turkey I should insert the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the inner thigh, but not touching the bone.

  67. I learned that you should thaw a turkey for five hours per pound of turkey in the refrigerator.

  68. Heather Sibley says:

    I learned that the safest way to thaw a whole frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water.

  69. ivy pluchinsky says:

    I learnt to never defrost your turkey at room temp, always use a fridge!

  70. I learned that there are absolutely no quality differences between fresh and frozen turkeys.

  71. I learned about brining, I’ve never done or heard of this before! I will try it to add flavour this year.

  72. I learned that there’s no difference between a frozen vs a fresh turkey.

  73. How to carve a turkey!

  74. I learned that you allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound (10 hours/kg).

  75. Kristy Reid says:

    I learned that you shouldn’t defrost a turkey at room temperature – always in the fridge or in cold water.

  76. I learned then when basting your turkey limit the number of times you open your oven.

  77. I am upsizing the bird just so I can have the leftovers.

  78. I’ve never done this before. I just pull them off.
    CARVING THE DRUMSTICK AND THIGH

    Remove the drumstick and thigh by pressing the leg away from the body of the bird. The joint connecting the leg to the backbone will often snap free, or may be severed easily with a knife point. Cut the dark meat completely from the body by following the body contour carefully with the knife.

  79. spatchcocking really helps distribute the heat for even cooking. thanks

  80. Rosa Cross says:

    I learned that if you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven

  81. I read about brining the turkey for 6 to 24 hours ahead of roasting to make it more juicy and flavourful. This will also remind me to thaw the turkey!

  82. joanne darrell says:

    I learned you need 5 hours to thaw a turkey.

  83. Shannon Baas says:

    I don’t know what my plans are.

  84. Good tips on carving. Ours usually looks like a massacre😜

  85. I liked learning about spatchcocking a turkey!

  86. Jessica Matheson says:

    I learned to defrost in the fridge. I usually use the sink so I will do it the right way this Thanksgiving.

  87. Learned that whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year. Good to know in case I ever get a larger freezer.

  88. The refrigerator method of thawing a turkey is the safest.

  89. George Meek says:

    In our house we thaw the turkey in cold water….

  90. Keeping the turkey in the refrigerator the day before cooking will give the turkey a crispier skin is what I learned

  91. Dale Steele Nicolov says:

    I learned how to make a proper gravy.I will try this method this Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing!

  92. Thomas Pepler says:

    I love stuffing, but I never knew just how much to make of it. I learned to allow ½ cup (125 ml) of stuffing per pound (500 g) of turkey.Thank you for such great tips. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  93. My husband always brines the turkey. They have a great recipe there using kosher/sea salt, brown sugar and water. Keep refridgerated for 6-24 hours. Such a juicy taste..

  94. Lyubov Fridlyand says:

    I learned to defrost turkey in the fridge on the bottom shelf or in the cold water.

  95. Learned to allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound in the refrigerator

  96. Tiffany Rotulo says:

    The safest way to thaw a whole frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water.

  97. Belinda McNabb says:

    I learned to Place turkey on a tray on a bottom shelf in refrigerator.

  98. I learned that you should calculate 1lb per person.

  99. Always seem to have a roast turkey. Happen to see how to barbeque one. I am going to change things up and follow their directions.

  100. Lisa DiTomasso says:

    We all want to know if our turkey is going to be good or safe to eat – I learned that the safest way to thaw a turkey is on a tray on a bottom shelf in refrigerator.

  101. i learned how the safest way to defrost a turkey, is in the fridge

  102. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    I learned that whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year.

  103. A tip to add broth to barbequing a whole turkey is an interesting and a new one to me.

  104. Elaine Buonsante says:

    Whole turkeys can be kept frozen for 1 year.

  105. “There is no quality or taste difference between a Canada Grade A turkey or Utility grade turkey”.

  106. Nancy Montgomery says:

    I learned that cooked turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

  107. I learned that the safest way to thaw a whole frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water.

  108. Allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound in refrigerator.

  109. I learned that you want to allow 5 hours of thawing time per lb of turkey when thawing in the fridge

  110. I have been doing the family turkey for many years, I always make sure there is enough for leftovers and some to send home with the family members that love it.

  111. I learned that if you baste your turkey you should limit the number of times you open and close your oven (once per hour is sufficient).

  112. I learned to stuff the turkey with a spoon so you don’t overstuff!

  113. I learned that if I am making a turkey on the BBQ I need to add liquid to the bottom of the pan and that I should baste it every 15 – 20 minutes.

  114. Tara Gauthier says:

    I learned that you can freeze a turkey for up to a year.

  115. Kimberley Hamilton says:

    you always need to make extra for leftovers!!

  116. Kimberley Hamilton says:

    my tip: the more butter under that turkey skin, the better!!

  117. I learnt that you should brining the turkey for 6 to 24 hours, this makes the turkey more flavourful and juicy

  118. I did not realize you could add cinnamon sticks to the brine.

  119. I learned how to brine a turkey properly.

  120. I learned that you should thoroughly rinse a turkey after brining.

  121. I learned that if you are deep frying a turkey to never stuff it and to ensure it’s free of any moisture both inside & out.

  122. One thing I learned: When roasting, any stuffing placed in the cavity of the bird should read and internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).

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