If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you know how much there is to do. You don't want to waste a lot of time shopping in crowded supermarkets. Actually, you can do much of your shopping at least a week before Thanksgiving and with some ingredients, even further in the future.
In general, most people grocery shop over the weekend, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, you want to consider alternatives to Saturday and Sunday.
Shopping Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday the week before Thanksgiving will be much less stressful than later in the week or on the weekend. If you can, shop early in the day. Evenings can be good as well, but if you wait until Thursday or Friday evening, you may find some items momentarily out of stock.
For those things you have to get the week of Thanksgiving, consider shopping Monday morning if possible. Shelves will be restocked from the weekend, and the store will be quieter. If Monday morning doesn't work for you, then try for Monday evening.
Here's a plan to help get you organized.
Clean Out the Pantry
This is something you can start in September if you want. Because you will be bringing a lot of items into your kitchen, making space can make a difference.
Create meals from what you have in the pantry and freezer. It is a good best practice anyway, but by making space before the holidays, you will not feel overwhelmed when they arrive.
Create Your Menu
First, decide on your menu. Ask yourself
How many will be coming for dinner? What about dessert?
What time do you want to eat? What time will people be arriving? This will help you plan any pre-dinner snacks.
What are your main dishes, sides, and desserts?
Will you be making everything, or can you delegate to others?
Make a detailed list of ingredients you will need for your meal. For example, don't just list "Stuffing" but instead create a list of what goes in your stuffing. This will help with shopping. In my Thanksgiving Recipes From Home, I've included both a meal list and a shopping list broken down by ingredient.
Once you have your list, then check your pantry and freezers for ingredients you have and need. If you are using herbs and spices, don't forget those as well. You don't want to get caught like I did one Thanksgiving trying to make our Apple Crunch and Pumpkin Pies and didn't have any cinnamon 🤨.
Don't forget to check on pots, pans, baking trays, pie plates, aluminum pans, or other cooking utensils you may need. Also, check on anything you may need to serve the meal. If this is your first Thanksgiving, you may not have a platter for the turkey or anything to put the gravy into.
Make Your Shopping Lists
Depending on your needs, you may want to make a couple of shopping lists. What can you order online, and what do you need to physically shop for? By making multiple lists, you can plan your time better.
If you are ordering cooking or serving items online, you can do that very early, so you have them. Don't wait until the last minute because what you need may be out of stock.
Plan Your Shopping
As I mentioned above, you can do much of your shopping earlier than you think, depending on your storage space, including your refrigerator and freezer.
Think about it. The week before, you can get pretty much all of your ingredients except for perhaps the turkey if you are getting a fresh one or you don't have space to store a frozen turkey. Additionally, you will want to purchase more perishable items like lettuce, flowers, bread, and baked goods during the week of Thanksgiving.
If you go shopping the week before, make sure to bring the detailed list that you've double-checked with your recipes. When you get home, do another inventory to ensure you have everything. If you missed something or they were out of an ingredient, put it on your Thanksgiving week shopping list.
Staying organized and planning your shopping means when you do go to the store during Thanksgiving week, you don't have to get a lot, so you can get in and out of the store quickly.
If you are ordering your groceries, you need to be even more planful. You can follow the same guidelines here but check with your grocery store on ordering times and deadlines. They may be different than usual, or they may be limiting the number of orders they can take.
Planning Makes a Difference
The earlier you plan, the more relaxed you can be as you prepare for your Thanksgiving gathering.
You can use these tactics for any holiday or large gathering. So here are the steps:
Clean out the pantry
Create your menu
Make shopping lists
Plan your shopping
If you need a guide for a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, I can help.
Thanksgiving Recipes from Home provides the recipes, planning, shopping, and preparation timeline to help you serve up a fantastic and special meal for your gathering.