Thanksgiving is exactly three weeks away. Have you started preparing yet? Now, don't get me wrong, my preparations at this point are minimal, but yes, I have started preparing. First, I have a list of potential new recipes going as I see them in magazines and online. I'll test them out of these next few weeks. Second, I have the guest list working so I know who's coming and how much food I'll need. Third, I have ordered my Thanksgiving turkey.
There are many reasons for ordering a bird, one being that if you need to feed a large group and need a large bird, you'll need to order one that is the right size. Usually you want to assume 1.25-1.5 pounds of turkey per person when choosing your turkey, and grocery stores tend to stock birds that are 8-20 pounds. So, if you're like me and have upwards of 30 aunts and uncles and cousins coming, you'll need a bigger bird.
Second, people order birds because they prefer fresh over frozen. In nearly every grocery store, you're going to find frozen birds, not fresh. If you want a fresh bird, you're going to need to go elsewhere. Finally, people order their birds to get a special type of bird, be it locally grown, free range, organic or heritage birds. You'll need to get those direct from farmers or online retailers.
So, when is it time to order your bird? The answer is Right Now.
If you're looking for specialty birds like a heritage bird or a locally grown free range turkey, you're going to want to snap them up within the next week. Chances are, you'll find some retailers and farmers who have already sold their stock for the season.
When ordering from a supermarket, a good rule of thumb is to allow 14 to 10 days for the grocer to be able to fill your request with a pickup on the day before Thanksgiving. Check with your local stores, though, because several will have their dates posted near their meat department, and you can always call and ask too.
What if you're ordering a cooked bird? Well, that varies widely by store. I know that Super Target wants 48 hours for you to reserve your bird, and Meijer only needs 24 hours to fill that request. Still, you're best checking with your local deli or restaurant to see if they offer that service and to find out when they need your reservation by. Smaller shops may need more time, but it seems that larger chain stores have it down to a science and can manage if you give them a few days' notice.
Who makes the turkey in your home for Thanksgiving? Do you travel somewhere, or does everyone travel to you?
Now that you have your turkey, it's time plan your Thanksgiving meal! Why not try this simple turkey and gravy recipe that really lets the flavor of the meat stand out? For sides, we recommend classic flavors with a twist. Try sweet potato soup instead of baking yams, broccoli cheddar mashed potatoes, butternut squash mac and cheese, and this pear and cranberry crisp for dessert.
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