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Turkey Day Kitchen Hacks

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s enough on your plate to worry about before even diving into the cooking. From making sure the turkey gets cooked to not forgetting about the special cranberry sauce you whipped up yesterday, mealtime is full of hidden traps.

Even if you’re an old hat at hosting the turkey dinner, these tips will help you get through the day with ease.

  • First things first – eat up as much of your fridge stock as you can before the big day, and be sure to toss expired foods. You’ll need to make room for all your sides (not to mention the turkey) and won’t want to spend three hours Thanksgiving morning sorting through containers.
  • Got a frozen turkey? Speed up the thawing process by putting it in a cold-water bath (in a bucket or cooler) and change the water every 30 minutes.
  • Eat an energizing breakfast and keep nuts on hand for snacking. You’ll be spending a good portion of the day on your feet, and in intense cooking sessions it’s common to forget to eat.
  • If you don’t have a turkey roaster, a regular baking pan will do! Just pile veggies like carrots, onions and turnips into the bottom for a makeshift rack.
  • Make gravy ahead of time using turkey pieces, or try an easy vegetarian recipe.
  • Did the top of your pumpkin pie or cheesecake crack? Just top it with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • If you have room, set up a drink station with an ice bucket, wines, water, and an electric kettle for tea and coffee. That way you won’t have guests hopping to the fridge (and getting in your way) every time they’re thirsty.
  • Set the table the night before, so you won’t be wondering where the gravy boat or pie server is when it’s mealtime.
  • Use a slow cooker to make soups or keep mashed potatoes warm, freeing up precious stovetop space.
  • Turkey needs to rest for at least 30 minutes after taking it out of the oven, so use that time to bake off rolls and premade sides.
  • Save yourself from serving lumpy gravy by whizzing it in the blender before serving.
  • Cheese boards make for a fast appetizer. Just unwrap and set out 30 minutes before your guests arrive for peak flavor.
  • Keep kids busy (and out of your hair) by giving them tasks like washing veggies, tearing bread for stuffing, or mashing the potatoes.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dinner kitchen hacks? Share in the comments!

From carving with confidence to pouring with pride, our online Holiday Cheat Sheet means more of your best for less stress. Order holiday meals online too; we'll do the work, you'll take the credit.

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sheila serino says …

Hi... I purchased the a fully prepared herb buttered and stuffed turkey from whole foods with all the veggies in the pan... It says cooking instructions included but I don't see any attached... Can you please advise.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SHEILA - Oh no! So sorry they weren't included. I would suggest calling the store directly so they can share the instructions based on the exact bird.

Jennifer Courtney says …

I, too, ordered an apple thyme turkey breast packaged to go into the oven. I discovered much too late that reheating instructions were not included. Looked on the Whole Foods website and called the store without success. It would definitely help if the instructions were posted on the website for the Thanksgiving meals.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JENNIFER - I was able to dig up a cheat sheet for reheating/cooking from our Mid-Atlantic stores. It might not be exactly the same product that you purchased but hopefully this will help! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/sites/default/files/media/Stores/S-Z/SYM/Thanks%20Cooking%20Instructions%20lr.pdf

Katie Guinee says …

I'm so thankful I found your post for the reheating instructions. My dinner came without any instructions as well. Would you be able to post the link at the top of the Whole Foods website so others who are eating late will have the cooking instructions as well? Many thanks!

Stacey says …

Same thing....searching for reheating and cooking instructions for the vegan stuffed field roast (and in fact, I had a hard time even figuring exactly what it was called...as its no longer available to order).. Again, i am disappointed that the instructions weren't included as the website said they would be. I think I found the instructions, however, in a very round about way. I will call the store and let them know about the issue.