As stressful as it sounds, planning a Thanksgiving menu isn't hard. Think about it, the main main dishes are more or less planned out for you, you just have to add your own personal twist to traditional meals. You may have to deal with your guests' dietary needs but beyond that, it's all down to planning. After considering how to make the dishes, you'll need to budget your time accordingly. Are you going to have company bring over some food or will you cook everything yourself? Either way, consider how long everything will take to prep and make, and then leave yourself the proper allotment of time. Don't forget that quantity is important as well--the number of guests coming to dinner will help you determine what size portions to make.
All right, first things first, you have to get a turkey--a real one, not just a centerpiece. It's the main event, after all. The question most people grapple with is how much turkey they will need. The answer is usually about a pound to a pound and a half per person, which is enough to feed everyone and still have some leftovers. A few things to keep in mind when serving:
Now you have your bird. What's next? Stuffing, of course! A tasty stuffing will complement the turkey and add zest and crunch to the meal. How you go about preparing this dish is a matter of personal taste. Some people choose to put the stuffing inside the bird, and others bake it separately. There is also pre-made stuffing mix if you don't want to attempt it from scratch. And don't forget your terminology--it's only called stuffing if it's cooked with the bird, otherwise it's dressing. Be sure to use bread that is dry, since if it's too moist it will become soggy. Crockpots are helpful since they monitor your food all day long and keep it at the right temperature. There are tons of ways to make stuffing; see a few recipes below.
Alternative Turkey Techniques
Slow oven roasting isn't the only way to prepare a turkey. There are several alternatives to this traditional method of preparing a bird. Read up on these techniques and figure out which you like best.
Side dishes are the unsung heroes of the holiday meal. Rolls, noodles, casseroles, and salads can make your Thanksgiving dinner complete and they give you a little variety when it's time to dig into the leftovers. Be sure to offer your guests several choices; some may be trying to eat healthier while others might just dislike certain things. These days, you can order everything you need for the feast online, but you should really buy the vegetables locally for optimum freshness. See some popular side dish ideas below.
Did you save some room? Good! After the turkey, dessert is the best part of Thanksgiving, even better than both football and leftovers. Thanksgiving has a number of traditional sweets, but just about anything from a fruit platter to a seven-layer chocolate cake is appropriate. Satisfying your sweet tooth is priority one, though ideally your desserts have a seasonal slant: pumpkin cakes and berry pies are a good start; cinnamon is also essential as a seasoning. Here are a few favorites to start with, but let your imagination run wild.