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We are here to help make this your most relaxed Thanksgiving ever. Start your countdown to the big day with our week-long Planning Guide – we’ll give you a step-by-step strategy leading up to and including the day if of the feast. We’ll help you plan your menu, your preparation schedule and your decor. So start now and make this your most delicious, relaxed and memorable Thanksgiving ever.

One Week Before – Get Prepared

Avoid the stress that last-minute scrambling tends to create. Get organized ahead of time. The weekend before the big long weekend is the perfect time to start. First step: plan your menu. Here is a simple, delicious Thanksgiving menu that your guests are bound to enjoy, but it also has plenty of make-ahead steps – we promise you’ll find it both doable and stress-free!

The second step is to plan ahead for the star of the party: the turkey. Talk to your Sobeys meat department expert to help you choose between a frozen or a fresh turkey, and to help select the right size for your party. If you choose a fresh turkey, place your order. If you’ve decided on a frozen turkey, make room in your freezer.

Use the recipes to create two shopping lists: one for nonperishable grocery items, and one for fresh items you will need, making sure you note down quantities as you go. Add a selection of cheeses and crackers to the fresh list. Then, as soon as you can this week, shop for all your nonperishable grocery ingredients – and your frozen turkey if you’re using one.

Next, don’t forget to make sure you have all the necessary kitchen equipment: a shallow, heavyweight roasting pan that is at least 2 inches longer and wider than your turkey, a meat thermometer, a baking sheet, a casserole pan, a medium pan, and a baster. And don’t forget to make room in your fridge for your turkey and other food items by discarding expired items.

Three Days Before – Start Defrosting

Begin defrosting your frozen turkey in the refrigerator by placing it on a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your fridge.

Next, head to the grocery store to shop for all your fresh ingredients. Let us do the prep for you and pick up some fresh-cut fruit and vegetable trays for easy hors d’oeuvres as your guests arrive. And if you plan to use any seasonal décor, such as gourds or mini pumpkins on your table, grab those as well.

One Day Before – Appetizer Prep and Table Setting

The more you can prepare the day before your Thanksgiving celebration, the better off you’ll be. There’s plenty you can do in advance, which saves you time and leaves you relaxed and ready on the big day.

Make (some) appetizers ahead of time: for your fruit and vegetable trays, prepare your favourite dips and store tightly to keep for fresh.

Prepare, roast and mash the squash and garlic for the Harvest Sun Risotto, then place in refrigerator to cool. Prep all vegetables for the Braised Vegetables With Cranberries and Pistachios, and store in fridge in re-sealable containers.

Dress your table: Set the table and put out centrepieces, place cards, serving dishes and serving utensils. Make a drinks station on a side table to serve punch and appetizers. No need to spend a lot of money – simply raid your kitchen for decoration inspiration. Fill a glass vase with fresh cranberries, mini pumpkins, and unshelled nuts to create a simple and elegant Thanksgiving centrepiece. Use fresh herbs, colourful napkins and handwritten name cards to add a personal touch to place settings.

Thanksgiving Day – Serve up Your Feast

We all want the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s important not to stress out. Having much of the prep done means you’ll have more time to stop and catch your breath.

In the morning: Prepare the seasonings and mixtures you need for cooking the turkey. Tie up your turkey and place in the pan. Put finishing touches on your table.

Four hours before guests arrive: Preheat the oven, put the turkey in, and prepare any remaining vegetables. A good-sized turkey can take three hours or more to cook, and can rest for up to an hour without cooling down. We think it’s better to be ready a bit early than to keep hungry guests waiting.

Two hours before guests arrive: Remove your cheeses from the fridge to allow them to come to room temperature, and place them, wrapped, on the board. Then, make the Mulled Cranberry Punch – once it’s mulled, it can sit at room temperature, ready for easy re-warming.

Just before your guests arrive: Bring out your fruit and vegetable trays, dips and crackers. Remove cheeses from wrapping, and slice any breads.

One hour before serving: Prepare the sides while the turkey finishes cooking.

Check to see if the turkey is done. We know that timing your turkey isn’t always easy. Estimating the time based on the weight of the bird is a good start, but we recommend that you always use a meat thermometer to check if your turkey is cooked properly. Insert the thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh (avoid the fat and bones). To prevent it from drying out, remove the turkey from the oven when it reaches 180°F (82°C); the internal temperature will continue to rise to 185°F (85°C). Keep it warm by tenting with foil for as long as an hour.

Signs the turkey is nearly done:

-The drumstick easily pulls away from the socket

-The juices from the bird run clear (not pink) when pierced

-The meat has lost its pinkish hue

Dinner time: Just before serving, carve the turkey and garnish your sides. Then, all that’s left is to serve the feast – and remember to take a bow for all the incredible work you’ve done.

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