A step-by-step guide to your Thanksgiving meal



Estimated Reading Time 2 Minutes

When you’re in charge of feeding the entire (extended) family a full Thanksgiving dinner, timing is everything. You have to get the turkey just right, and do it in step with every other element of the big feast so it arrives at the table at once, each dish piping hot. This task is not easy for the home cook whose nightly meals rarely involve a parade of half a dozen or so dishes. A potluck plan can help share the load, leaving the bird to the host and side dishes to the guests. But military precision is still required to get the turkey and all its fixin’s in place.

Start with two lists: a shopping list and a to-do list. Both will keep things running smoothly in the kitchen right up until dinnertime.

Thanksgiving to-do list

The week before:

  • buy ingredients, wine and other beverages
  • make or buy ice, if needed


The day before:

  • thaw the turkey, if frozen*
  • make the cranberry sauce
  • make the pumpkin pie
  • chill wine and beer
  • shake up salad dressing
  • chop and wash greens and prep veggies
  • get children to set the table

The day of:

Shopping list for 8-10 people

1 turkey (estimate 3/4 lb to 1 lb. per person)
1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3 lb. potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 L chicken stock
1 orange
1/2 cup orange or apple juice
1 unbaked 9” pie crust
1 14 oz. (398 ml) can of pure pumpkin
1 1/4 cups half & half
1/2 cup butter
2 large onions
3-4 celery stalks
2 large loaves crusty
unsliced bread, at least a day old
fresh rosemary
ground sage
cinnamon
ground ginger
ground allspice

Practise safe thawing

It can take days to thaw a big turkey. Allow 24 hours for each four to five pounds. It must be done in a refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing. Place the plastic-wrapped bird in a rimmed pan to prevent any juices from dripping onto other food. To speed the thawing process, place turkey in the sink or a large container and cover completely with cold water; allow an hour per pound (2 hrs per kg).


Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2012.

Related Articles

Made Possible With The Support Of Ontario Creates