Do you have a big Thanksgiving coming up? One of the best things you can do to make your day easier is to set your menu now so you can minimize your time in crowded grocery stores.
Many of the ideas below came from OnSugar.com
Two Weeks ’til T-Day
Plan Your Menu
Any early brunch items? We always have homemade cinnamon rolls on holiday mornings, and also an egg casserole dish of some kind. If you also have special breakfast or brunch meals, be sure to include that in your menu planning.
Also, any special diet requirements? Any vegans or vegetarians? If so, you’ll want to make sure you have food everyone can enjoy. Here are some ideas, but be sure to add your family traditions, too.
Appetizers & Hors d Oeuvres: Pickles, chopped veggies, fruit, crackers & dips
Main Meat - Turkey, ham, lamb, roast?
Side Dishes: Potatoes, Stuffing, Vegetables, Yams, Salad, Gravy
Breads: Rolls, Artisan Breads, Bread Sticks
Desserts: Pies - Pumpkin, Pecan, Mincemeat; Cranberry Cheesecake, Pumpkin Gingerbread, ice cream and don’t forget whipped cream!
Beverages: Tea, punch, coffee, beer, wine, other alcohol
Sometimes, with larger families, it’s necessary to celebrate holidays on two days - perhaps on a Thursday and Friday, because not everyone can get together at the same time.
If that’s the case, you’ll want to plan your next-day menu, too. For example, maybe you’ll do turkey one day, and ham the next. Perhaps it’s regular mashed potatoes on Thursday, and twice-baked potatoes on Friday. But, whatever you choose, it will be so much easier to manage if you have your meals planned out.
I like to plan my meals for the week on 3x5 cards. I put the date and day at the top, and the menu below. That way, if I need to make a strategic change, it’s easy to rearrange the cards. I can also put important information on each day - how many will be there for that meal and what time they’ll arrive, if there is an event or activity that we have to schedule around.
It also allows me to plan for repurposing foods (some people call that leftovers) into new meals. For instance, your turkey from Thursday can easily become your turkey soup on Friday or Saturday. From one turkey (I purchase the largest one I can find), I typically get about 4-6 meals: Turkey Dinner, Turkey Lasagna, Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Enchiladas/burritoes/tacos (something like Mexican food), Pasta Salad (with chunks of turkey in it) and Turkey Soup, not necessarily in that order. We also usually have turkey we can munch on or make sandwiches and wraps out of. My family never complains about it, because all the meals are so different that it doesn’t taste like the same old thing.
If you can’t stand the idea of eating turkey 5 or 6 days in a row, remove the meat from the carcass and freeze it in meal-sized portions. You might want to leave some in slices and chop the rest.
Decide what kind of turkey and/or ham to serve - if you want it fresh, order it ASAP! Write a reminder on your calendar when to pick it up (probably the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.)
This might be a good time to start eating items out of your freezer. That way, you can save on grocery shopping for the next week or two, and also make room for Thanksgiving leftovers.
Then I create a shopping list from my 3x5 cards. First, I look up the recipes I need for the meals and build the list from that. I make sure I add what I need for every menu item. Then I check my cupboards, pantry and frig to see what ingredients I already have. Finally, I organize the items on my list according to stores. I put my list on my iPhone. Some I simply know can be purchased at a certain store. Other items, I compare sale prices and purchase the lowest priced item for the brand/quality I want.
While you’re at it, check your on-hand supplies for freshness and to make sure it’s all good. Once I went to get some flour and discovered it was infested. (Hint: Keep supplies such as flour, sugar, pudding mix, etc. in plastic ziplock bags or airtight plastic containers.)
Many items can easily be purchased a week or two early. Watch the sales to see if you can get bargains. This is also a good way to budget your expenditures. So divide your list into parts and use the information below to make your task easier.
Purchase these items as much as 2 weeks in advance
Nuts (freeze for long-term storage)
Long keeping vegetables, winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata), onions, garlic, shallots
Canned foods: soups, tomatoes, fruits, etc.
Frozen vegetables or anything that is frozen
Beverages like soda, coffee, tea, water, wine bear
Spices, this is a good time of year to test your spices for freshness. Ground spices maintain their best quality for only 6-12 months. to test—just sniff.
Baking supplies, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, chocolate chips
Dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots, apples, dates, etc.
Jelly, jam, cranberry sauce
Potatoes, fresh sweet potatoes, fresh yams, white potatoes
Rice or other grains
Keep these items refrigerated, and they should be fine:
Long lasting fruits such as cranberries, oranges, apples
1 week ’til T-Day
Now is a great time to get organized. Make lists. If you’re kind of OCD (don’t worry, we won’t judge) make a special binder for your lists and you can then save it for next year. Or, you can make copies and give it to your kids, complete with pictures and recipes.
Organized Like Jen (not that I’ll ever be organized like Jen, trust me!) gives you some ideas here:
This is a good time to make sure your tablecloth and napkins are clean - otherwise pop them in the washer and dryer now.
Clean out the pantry and frig the night before your trash gets picked up. That way you’ll have room for the groceries and advance-prepped dishes.
Clean your house this week, too. Then you’ll only have to do the basics closer to the event.
Doublecheck your menu and make a cooking plan. What will you cook in advance? What can you partially prepare in advance?
I usually cook my desserts one or two days before. Normally, I make my cinnamon roll dough that night, and then put it in the frig to rise. But, now I have a new technique, and I make the rolls in advance up to the final rising and baking. For this purpose, I use disposable aluminum foil baking pans and once I’ve rolled the dough out, filled it, and then cut it into rolls, I place the rolls into a buttered baking pan and cover it with plastic. Then I freeze them. This way, I can make them several days in advance and save that extra stress and work on the Big Day. When I need them, I take them out a couple hours in advance. As they thaw, they rise. When they’ve risen the correct amount, I bake them like I normally would and make the glaze.
Do you have any experimental recipes you want to serve, but you’ve never prepared before? This might be a good week to do a test run of those recipes. My new oven is convection, so I did a test turkey the other day just to make sure.
These items can be purchased up to 1 week in advance:
Many dairy products, milk, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheese (check the sell-by date to be sure)
Avocados (gives them time to ripen)
Brussel Sprouts (refrigerated)
Purchase these items only a day or two ahead
Fresh meats or fish
Fresh veggies: Zucchini, tomatoes, Asparagus
Fresh fruit, Berries, Grapes
Next week, we’ll look at what to do the last few days before Thanksgiving.
As always, prices are for this area and for Safeway and Fry's will require at least a Club Membership card. Some may require digital coupons as well. We try to indicate all restrictions, special conditions etc. Sprouts does not require any cards and does not have any special savings days. Every week Sprouts has double ad Wednesday, when you get last week’s and this week’s ad prices. All three stores have digital savings available to those with appropriate accounts.
Go to their web pages for details and directions. Fry’s at least will give you the advertised digital price if you state you do not have the necessary technology. Safeway sometimes has coupons which you can access digitally or clip out of the ad.
BOGO= Buy One Get One
Items in Italics are found in more than one store
***Holiday Open House, Saturday, November 11***
$.89 lb. Split Chicken breasts, whole fryer, drumsticks or thighs, Foster Farm
$3.99 lb. Top sirloin, boneless
Free frozen turkey when purchasing Smithfield Spiral Sliced Ham @ $2.99 lb.
$2.99 lb. Chuck Roast
$3.49 boneless pork chops, center-cut
$.79 lb. Frozen turkey
Here’s a basic turkey recipe:
4/$5 Blackberries or Blueberries
$.88 ea Red, yellow or orange bell peppers
$1.99 red, green or black seedless grapes
$.99 lb. Pears, Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou or Red
$.99 Navel Oranges
2/$5 Pepperidge Farm Stuffing SV
2/$5 Lays Potato Chips
$.77 Coca-Cola, Pepsi or 7UP 2 liters
$3.99 DiGiorno Pizza, or California Pizza Kitchen SV
2/$5 Cage Free Eggs
Pyrex Glas Pie Plate, BOGO
Tuscany Jar Candle BOGO
2/$3 Cool Whip SV
$1.79 Heinz Gravy
Buy 10/Save $5 - can mix & match, prices noted below are after discount
$1.99 Gold Medal Flour or Nestle Chocolate Chips
$1.99 ea Breyers ice cream SV
$.49 Green Giant Vegetables SV
$.49 Swanson Broth SV
$.49 Cream of Mushroom
$.49 Betty Crocker Cake or Brownie mix
$1.67 Fry’s water
$1.99/lb. Land O’Lakes Butter SV
$2.29 Kraft or Tillamook Cheese, SV
$1.49 ea. Birdseye Veggies SV
$.49 American Beauty Pasta SV
$.49 Del Monte Tomatoes
$1.99 Tostitoes, Doritoes
$2.99 French Fried Onions
$.99 Crescent or Cinnamon Rolls
$.99 Hormel Chili, Progresso Soup
$.99 1/2 gallon milk
$1.99 Post Cereal
$3.49 Red Baron Pizza
$5.49 Viva Towels or Cottonelle
$2.49 Jif Peanut Butter, Smuckers Jelly SV
Vets get 10% Off on Saturday, November 11 in honor of Veterans Day
$4.97 lb. NY Strip Steak, family pack
$1.67 lb. Half Pork Loin, boneless
$6.99 lb. Salman fillet, Atlantic
$.79 lb. Turkey
Thinking about Deep Frying your turkey?
Spend $150 in a single transaction, get a free Signature Farms Turkey
$2.47 lb. Hamburger 80% lean
$.97 Sanderson Farms split breast, drums, thighs or leg quarters
$1.27 Shank Portion Ham
$.88 each Avocados
$1.99 lb. Asparagus
$2.99 lb. Honeycrisp
2/$6 mini seedless watermelon
$1.49 Yukon Red potatoes or Sweet onions
$1.99 lb. Fuji or Granny Smith Apples
$.99 lb. Zucchini or yellow squash
$2.99 lb. Grapes, red or green seedless
$1.99 tomatoes on the vine
$.89 ea Fresh Lemons
$.79 ea cucumbers
$.79 ea bell peppers, green
Other Good Deals
$5.99 ea. Rotisserie Chicken
10/$10 Sour cream or cottage cheese SV
$4.99 ea. Chobani Greek Yogurt, 32 oz.
50% off McCormick Spices
$1.88 ea Sugar (4 lbs), Chocolate Chips, Flour, Signature Kitchens
10/$10 Pumpkin (Signature Select), Jello Pudding, Jell-O, Marshmellows
10/$10 Cream Cheese, Crescents, Cinnamon Rolls, Signature Kitchens
2/$5 Cooking Oil, Pam Cooking Spray
2/$5 Grandma’s Molasses, Ghiradelli Brownies, SV
$1.77 ea. Dorritos, Ruffles, Frito Lay SV
$.69 Coke, Pepsi, 7UP, 2 liters SV
$1.88 Post Cereal SV
$4.88 California Pizza Kitchen Pizza SV
$2.49 Oroweat, Sara Lee Artesano Bread, Thomas’ Bagels SV
$.59 Green Giant Vegetables (canned)
$2.99 Oscar Mayer Deli
4/$10 Kelloggs Cereal, buy 4 and get 1 gallon milk free
$5.99 ea. Maxwell House, Yuban, Gevalia coffee, SV
10/$10 Turkey Gravy, Onion Soup Mix
10/$10 Dole Pineapple chunks, Del Monte or Signature Kitchens Canned Fruit
$1.99 Mother’s Cookies, Whole Wheat Bread, Cracker Packs, Zesta Saltines, SV
$5 Friday: everything below is $5
2 pkg Raspberries
Signature Cafe Family Size Pizza
Deli Ham, Provolone, Muenster or American Cheese, per lb.
3 pkg. Nestle Chocolate Chips ($1.67 ea.)
Just for U Clip or Click Coupons
$.99 Eggs, dozen, large AA
$1.99 Water, 24 ct.
$4.99 Coke 12 packi$.88 ea Pillsbury Cake Mixes SV
$1.88 Quaker Cereal, Life, Cap’n Crunch SV
$2.49 Butter, Land-O-Lakes
$.99 Progresso, Campbell Soups SV
$1.88 Minute Maid Orange Juice, Gold Peak Tea, refrigerated SV
$.99 Apple or Cranberry juice
$2 off Any Farmer John bacon product
$1.49 lb. whole turkeys, all-natural
Maybe you want to BBQ your turkey
$1.59 lb. whole chickens, all-natural
$1.77 lb. B/S Chicken tenders, thighs
$2.99 lb. Sausage, chicken or pork
$1.49 lb. pork shoulder roast
$.88 lb green seedless grapes
$.88 lb. Apples, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Opal, Koru, Smitten
2lb./$5 Holiday Red Grapes
$.98/ 12 oz. Cranberries
$.98 Oranges, navel
2/$5 Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
$.69 Roma Tomatoes
$.69 Red, yellow or orange bell peppers
$.88 lb. Acorn, butternut, spaghetti squash
$.88 lb. Pears, organic Bartlett
2/$3 O Red Garnet Yams or Jewel Yams
$2.99 lb. Dried Apricots
$2.99 lb. Granola SV
2lb /$1 Oatmeal, rolled, quick or steel cut
$.69 lb. Brown or white rice
Other Good Deals:
$3.99 Better than bouillon
$2.99 ea. Wild rice blend, or quinoa SV, O, 12 oz.
40% off Wholesome Sweetners SV
2/$1 Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt
$3.49/pint Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream
BOGO Talenti Gelato (qt), Arctic Zero
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Ya got this!