Stuff you should get before Thanksgiving

First, get at least one turkey. Depending on the size of your refrigerator/freezer, get at least two or three small ones (10 lbs.) if you can. Reason, they are now 59 cents a pound. It’s worth getting a turkey, cooking it, breaking it down, splitting up the parts and labeling them and freezing them for several meals for the next several months. Lunch meat, stews, soups, casseroles, and on and on. Ten pounds of meat for $6 is the best you’ll see. Right now I have 3 turkeys. One was a gift, its a 30 lb Butterball that is going to be the Thanksgiving turkey. Two are small turkeys (one was 15 lbs, one was 10 lbs) that are going to be made into meals, sandwiches, and put away in the freezer in smaller portions. Again … time vs. money. You’ll put several hours of your life into this, but you’ll save hundreds of dollars by fixing and storing 25-30 lbs of meat for future meals.

Second, take a serious look right now at the Buy One Get One Free deals and the fuel perks and other specials, because next week is going to be much leaner than this week. This is the last serious week of serious deals before holiday cooking time. Check the flyers, and if you don’t have them, go online to your grocery store’s website and check their deals online. Just about every grocery store I know has a website and has a “list” feature that you can click on the items on the flyer and add them to your own list online, then print it.

Third, last chance to grab the best coupons. The majority of coupons are set to expire either Wednesday (tomorrow!) or no later than Saturday (the 23rd) of this month. They all know that people WILL pay full price if they don’t plan well and run out of something for Thanksgiving, so there is no point to having great sales and coupons within those few days between Saturday and Thursday. So, you need to think and plan right now if there’s anything you are lacking.

Fourth, if you have a decent size storage area and a good pantry, now’s the time to get those extra things that are at the lowest price. Things I have noticed at the lowest price (will end anytime from Wednesday to Saturday) are canned vegetables, mixes and seasonings, salads and dressings, frozen pastries and convenience food. Some things that will probably still be at a good price for the rest of this month are seasonal fruits and vegetables, coffee, wine and beer, and the usual dairy items.

Fifth, take a serious look at your supplies. Now is a great time to get foil, plastic wrap, turkey stuffing bags and oven bags, any cookware you might be missing, any of that stuff. It’s very competitive now and the things you get aren’t just for Thanksgiving, but get used all year long, so look at your supply now for a year’s view. Whatever you think you’ll need over the next year, get it now, because it’s at the lowest price now. Yes, I know, the REAL lowest price is the clearance that starts right after Christmas. However, you can’t count on the supplies on the shelf for clearance, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Plus you may not have a coupon then, and there are current active coupons for cooking supplies. If you need it, I’d say get it now, and if you have a good sized pantry or need extras you can get them when you see them by chance at clearance. Clearance isn’t guaranteed, and it’s not always what you are looking for, so consider yourself lucky if you get good stuff then.

I bought the last of what I needed for Thanksgiving and things are moving along well. Here’s the update on my preparations:

Mashed potatoes are done, sectioned into four 1-pound containers, labeled and in the freezer.

One of the small turkeys is in the oven right now and will slow-cook all night. This turkey’s purpose is to provide drippings for gravy and stuffing, and to provide sandwich meat and main dish meat for us for the next week. I have LOTS of varied recipes, no one will notice that we’re having turkey every night! I have ways of combining it with sausage, bacon, sauces, starches, to change the look and feel of it for every night. And like I said, at less than 60 cents a pound, I can’t pass it up. Plus, I really like the chance to pre-make the stuffing before Thanksgiving and get that in the freezer also. And the gravy. My real plan is to have as much free time on Thanksgiving as possible, because there’s so much else I’d rather be doing.

Even though I made the cranberry relish from scratch, I picked up 3 extra canned ones just in case. Also, there weren’t any sales on bread that I liked, so I picked up 2 boxes of pre-made dressing mix just in case I need to whip up more. The boxed stuff is ready in minutes and is far inferior to my homemade ones, but if we run out of the good stuff, better this than nothing.

Always check the clearance daily at Bi-Lo! They had so many pastries at half-price I had to stop myself from buying too much because I still want to make my own desserts. However, I bought a full size Blueberry pie and Cherry pie because those two things I’m not planning on making myself. I don’t like blueberries, although many family members do, so they’ll eat the pie. Also, cherry pie filling is really expensive and I don’t think I’ve seen a good sale on pie filling cans, if there was then I missed it, so actually buying a fully made cherry pie was cheaper than buying the pie crusts and the pie filling. Weird that it worked out that way, but it did.

I also bought canned green beans. I hate canned green beans, but several family members like green beans and green bean casserole, so … whatever. I’ll make the casserole and serve it and give away the leftovers. I like fresh green beans, or steamed (still crunchy) green beans, so I have some frozen ones that I will also make with a garlic, parmesan and butter sauce.

So … everything is going to be done for the day of except the breads and the turkey, both of which would be far better if made right then and served hot out of the oven. I’ll just double-check my ingredient lists and be sure I have everything I need before Saturday.

I have some frozen whole corn, but today I also picked up some cans of creamed corn. I don’t really like creamed corn, but it seems to be tradition, and I got it cheap, so again, whatever. I’ll make it and if any is leftover it’s going home with someone. I also have fresh frozen corn, which I like, and I’m going to fix that with a three-pepper seasoning.

What I still have to pick up …

Fresh stuff last, probably pretty close to last minute. I’m going to have fresh fruits and vegetables to serve all day every day that I have visitors and just let everyone graze as much as they want. Also, I need more apples to make my deep-dish apple pie. I use fresh apples instead of canned ones, so that’s going to be last-minute.

Ice cream. We don’t have that often in this house, but it’s going to be necessary for the desserts. I have two free coupons for quarts of ice cream that I’ve been saving for this time, so I’ll be redeeming those right before the guests arrive.

Haven’t decided about store-bought bread yet. I have my own recipes for homemade bread and rolls, and might stick with that. However, for cheap and fast sandwiches, store-bought bread would be best. I probably will get at least one loaf, but last minute so it’s as fresh as possible.

Fresh milk for cereals and drinking. I use half-and-half for recipes, and I don’t drink milk, so I rarely keep it here. However, several family members do, so I’ll have to wait until the last minute to get it as fresh as possible.

Same with other dairy. Just to be sure I have everything, as fresh as possible, I’ll get some more yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs at the last minute.

Junk food. Oh, why not. I’ll get stuff like pop-tarts, chips, cheetos, doritos, and other assorted crap that normally is not in my house, but it’s a holiday, and I have guests, so might as well offer everything. I’ll stop by the dollar store and load up sometime soon.

What I still have to make …

Dips, sauces, and finger foods for snacking.

Breads and rolls.

Pancakes for breakfasts. I prefer to cook breakfast, so I’ll have eggs and bacon also, but it takes so long and takes up so much room to make pancakes that I’m going to make them ahead of time and freeze them in bags of 4 so they’ll be easy to just toast and add when it’s time to make a hot breakfast. I have plenty of cereals, granola, and granola bars if someone gets up at a different time than I’m serving breakfast or wants breakfast as a snack instead.

The turkey and the dinner rolls (will be only on Thanksgiving).

I’m not going to bother with salad, but I am going to have chopped vegetables on platters for snacking and for making sandwiches. So, still have to do some prepping, and it will probably be close to last minute to keep it all as fresh as possible.

That’s where I’m at right now! How’s everyone else doing? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you have any suggestions for me or want to share your progress too!

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