The Richmond Register

Community News Network

November 22, 2013

How to survive cooking for a large group at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year to celebrate family and friends while enjoying a delicious meal. But for some, it can easily turn into a high-stress situation when it comes to preparing a meal for a large group.

This Turkey Day, leave the stress behind with some helpful tips and resources for pulling off dinner for a crowd.

Prepare in advance

Procrastinators, beware. The last thing you want to do is put off planning your Thanksgiving meal.

"The absolute key to a successful Thanksgiving meal is advance preparation," says David Dial, a New York food blogger at SpicedBlog.com. "Make a list of everything that needs to be done, and then put that list in order by date. I recommend starting about two to three weeks early, although most of the tasks can't be completed until closer to Thanksgiving."

Use the extra time to select which dishes you want to include, the recipes that you will use, and how much food you will need to prepare. Confirm the number of attendees as early as possible to determine food quantities.

"The number of dishes to make is purely based on personal preference," Dial says. "Part of the fun with Thanksgiving is the leftovers, so I always err on the side of making too much food rather than running out."

When it comes to selecting a turkey, a good estimate is eight ounces per person, according to Julie Jones, a catering manager at Hy-Vee supermarket. She estimates a group of 25 to 30 will consume a gallon each of sides like potatoes, gravy, stuffing and a vegetable. Dinner rolls are estimated at one and a half per person and since not everyone likes cranberry sauce, Jones says a quart will serve 25 to 30.

Starting early will also help to ensure that nothing gets forgotten, including seemingly smaller things like drinks and decorations.

Make a meal plan

Once you know how many guests you will be feeding and what types of dishes you want to prepare, map out your offerings in a detailed plan. List what you will be making and when--including recipes and cooking times and temperatures--organized by date.

"With a list prioritized by date, the Turkey Day chef can at least maintain some sense of sanity," states Dial. "There will be a lot of work to do to plan a large meal for friends and family, but breaking the meal preparation into many smaller tasks will make the job seem less daunting."

In addition, Dial says the list should take into consideration food allergies and the dietary needs of your guests. 

Some items can be prepared well in advance, depending on your personal preference.

"To save stress, when I've cooked Thanksgiving for my family, I've prepared all the dishes 24 hours in advance and reheated them Thanksgiving day," says Jones. "And it tasted better than doing it the day-of."

Dial also encourages preparing items well in advance, like pie dough, which can be frozen until it is needed.

Recruit helpers

Unless you're determined to be a one-person show, recruiting others to help with the meal prep will also save stress.

An arsenal of helpers is invaluable to Claude Williams, an Iowa City, Iowa, resident who helps organize an annual Thanksgiving meal that his church provides to the community. For nearly 30 years, River Community Church has sought to reach a community need during the holiday and now feeds over 500 people a free Thanksgiving meal.

"We have quite a network of volunteers from the church and the community that come over and help," says Williams. "We have six to 12 people who participate in actually preparing the food, then sometimes between 80-90 people who help by serving, bringing people in or taking meals out."

Granted, you may not be serving guests in the triple digits, but you can't go wrong with getting as much help as possible. Assign different portions of your meal plan to your helpers, or ask guests to bring specific items to share. If you're serving up more than one turkey but only have one oven, find a guest who is willing to prepare a turkey at their home.

If multiple people are helping with your meal plan, you may want to post an electronic copy online where everyone can access it. The app Evernote can help as it can be accessed by smartphone, tablet or computer and makes sharing a document easy. Helpers will be able to instantly see any changes you make to the plan.

Stay organized

As Turkey Day approaches, remember to stay organized. It will help you save money, eliminate stress, and make sure everything gets done.

Before heading to the store, make a complete shopping list of all the items you will need to purchase to avoid unnecessary repeat trips.

"Make sure you have collected all of your recipes in one place, and then compile a list of all of the groceries you will need," adds Dial. "Nothing is worse than having to stop and go to the store in the middle of making a recipe."

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results