Whole Story

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7 Ways to Rule Your Thanksgiving Kitchen

PantryFor many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a busy holiday season filled with family visits, dinner parties, and other home gatherings. While hosting loved ones can be a great experience, it can be stressful and tiring, too. With the big day still weeks away, you have a golden opportunity to get prepared so you can better enjoy your time in the kitchen this holiday season. Here are our top tips to set the stage for easy entertaining.

Start With a Clean Slate

Before bringing home your holiday groceries, de-clutter your kitchen, pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Finishing off leftovers and discarding past-its-prime produce will leave room for all of your fresh holiday favorites.

BakingCheck Those Recipes Twice

Review your recipes and check your pantry carefully to create an extensive shopping list. The more items you pick up on your first visit to the grocery store means fewer trips later on.

Get Ready for a Crowd

Cooking for more than your household this holiday? Additional guests equal more food, and you may need larger pots, extra dishes and more utensils. Take stock of your supply and pick up or borrow any needed tools before you start cooking.

Remember that added guests can mean added trash, too. Have clearly labeled recycle containers available and place multiple trash receptacles around the dining and kitchen areas.

Make Ahead

Cooking ahead could mean the difference between harmony and havoc. Desserts can be made in advance, along with anything you serve chilled, such as cranberry sauce or chutney. Roasted vegetables, casseroles and stuffing can all be fully or partially prepared ahead of time as well.

Chop Once

You may be using the same ingredients in multiple recipes — onion in both the stuffing and your favorite casserole, for example. Review your recipes and prepare all of the celery, garlic, parsley, nuts, etc. at the same time.

TurkeyMaximize Oven Space

Dishes competing for oven space can be tricky. When cooking a lot of dishes in the oven at the same time, make sure to leave enough space between dishes for hot air to circulate. Adjust cooking temperature and time for dishes such as root vegetables and stuffing to find an appropriate common temperature. 

While the turkey or other meat is resting before carving, warm prepared casserole dishes, vegetables and rolls in the still-hot oven. Use a toaster oven or microwave to reheat smaller dishes.

If you live in a warm climate or don't mind the cold, try roasting potatoes, warming casseroles or even roasting the turkey on an outdoor grill.

Clean As You Go (with help)

Cleaning up is easiest when you have help and when you keep up with it as you cook. Try taking a clean-up break every hour or so. Enlist a family member to help (cookie bribes might be necessary) and tackle the job together.

We hope these tips help make your holiday season a little more simple and stress-free.  After all, the holidays are about spending time with our friends and family, not stressing out in the kitchen. What are some of your kitchen planning tips for easy entertaining?

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Janis says …

For years I have purchased all natural ingredients at my fabulous, local Whole Foods Market to create a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for my family and friends. This year, I lost my job (our only source of income) so money is an issue. Also, both my husband and I have been ill. $250 would allow us to continue with this tradition. We would be able to recreate this memorable celebration meal for our family and our friends who do not have relatives in the Bay Area..

Andrea Broadwater says …

We recently started shopping at Whole Foods after my husband was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue. I am recovering from Breast Cancer, and became a Vegetarian to help with the recovery. Everyone has been more than helpful at our Annapolis, Maryland store; even customers. I met a customer who had several food allergies, and she helped me find items, gave some great tips, and even took my email address so she could share recipes with us. We are new at shopping for gluten free items, and can't believe the number of products the store has is in stock, and so well marked! Shopping was a challenge until we came to Whole Foods. It would be so nice to win the $250.00, and have someone guide us with how to prepare our first gluten free Thanksgiving Dinner.

Sheila Cody says …

Great tips! I also purchase a stack of those nifty plastic food containers so I can send guests home with some tasty leftovers. When the meal is over and I am cleaning up I have them set out so I can portion out some for everyone and then pop them in the 'fridge until my guests are ready to leave. I have extra plastic grocery bags too and the food containers go in the bags to keep things tidy.

mom says …

thanksgiving make ahead tips