Let’s Talk Turkey: Part 2, Planning

picture of shredded poultry

If planning to use turkey for several meals, keep a few slices of breast and shred the rest.

Let’s Talk Turkey: Part 2, Planning

Before buying a turkey, it helps to have an idea about how you are going to use it. My former Principal always said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That bit of wisdom applies to cooking as well as teaching.

If you and your family usually eat too much at Thanksgiving dinner, and want to change, a trick from a dietician’s manual recommends that you serve restaurant-style instead of passing the bowls around the table. You can then control portion size and less turkey will be needed. Starting the meal with sparkling apple cider for toasting thankful messages, a quality soup and leafy green salad means less room for heavy mashed potatoes and gravy. If you prefer to pass the bowls and have free choice, you will plan differently. Here are 5 tips and tricks for meal planning.

  • Plan the Menu   For a single family meal, gather members around a table and look at Thanksgiving grocery ads to get menu ideas. Use the “My Plate” model to plan for a nutritious meal with lots of above-the-ground veggies.
  • A Scavenger Hunt  After planning the meal, have the family search the cupboards for meal ingredients and make a “to buy” list.
  • Shopping Plan  Use smart shopping techniques as described in our forum. Stay on budget and resist the temptation to add processed food to your cart. Buy turkey well in advance to allow safe thawing time.
  • Preparation Plan   With the family, make a list of cooking tasks and divide the chores with family members. Plan on prepping some entrees and sides ahead of time and cook ahead if possible. Slow cookers are great for cooking root veggies and casseroles like creamed corn.
  • The Dinner Plan    Plan who sits where and make decorations accordingly. Make up some fun discussion questions to liven up the event. Decide if it’s “pass the bowls” or “restaurant style?” If planning to use planned-overs in future meals, figure out a way to set them aside before the meal starts.

If your event includes several families, split the chores with each family. Plan to have food already cooked so you can enjoy the company and not be tied to the kitchen. Safe handling of ingredients will be discussed in the next post and recipes in part 4. Stay tuned.