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Turkey Tracking: Making Your Lists

Thanksgiving Day dinner is always better with advance planning

You may already know who's cooking the dinner - and if you're happy it's not you, there's no need to make any lists. If, on the other hand, you have happily volunteered to commandeer this big day as your own, then it is never too early to begin - The Lists.

That's right - lists. You'll need multiples and some cooks even start marking their calendars - color coded, no less - well in advance of that first shopping trip.

-The first list is your guest list. This will help you keep track of how much to purchase.
-The second list is for non-perishables.
-The third list is for make-aheads that may include some perishables.
-The fourth list is for those last-minute items than should be fresh.
-The fifth list is for post-holiday shopping. This is when you're ready to venture out and take advantage of the real bargains on decorating supplies. All things turkey will be drastically reduced and now is the time to grab up some new trinkets for next year.

Keep in mind that you can purchase your turkey anytime. It's good for a year in a deep freezer. You'll begin seeing more birds in the weeks before Thanksgiving as well. Keep in mind, though that while the name brands won't go on sale as the big day nears, some of your local merchants may provide loss-leader pricing on some of the lesser known brands. While I encourage first-time cooks to stick with known names; namely because they come with gravy packets and explicit instructions (not to mention an around the clock helpline), more experienced folks can go for the bargains.

While you have time for a little advance planning, now is also the time to search out some new recipes. It's always fun to introduce something new that will pair will with traditional fare. Once you find a dish you like, experiment with it first. Never serve an untried dish during a special occasion.

Unless you're planning a formal affair, invitations can be made by phone or in person. These are your dear friends and family - so don't worry about sending out incredibly cute invites unless you want to. Always plan on an extra guest or two as well; sometimes your invitees can't control who is going to show on their doorsteps.

This is also a good time to take inventory of your cooking supplies. That includes pots, pans, and casserole dishes. You may want to borrow or visit the discount store for extras. Tons of mashed potatoes have to start somewhere!

While all this preparation sounds rather hectic and time-consuming - it will pave the way to a wonderful and hassle-free Thanksgiving Day shared with family and friends.




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