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Adlen Robinson: Start Thanksgiving Day preparations now

Even though Thanksgiving Day is late this year (Nov. 28), it will be here before you know it. If you are in charge of the big meal this year, the time to start planning is now.

 First and foremost, don’t panic. After all, it’s just a meal. The day is really about being with your loved ones and giving thanks for all our blessings. The delicious food is just a bonus.

 My readers all know I am all about lists. Thanksgiving Day dinner is the perfect time to up your list-making skills to keep you organized and on track.

 First things first. Time to decide on your menu. Even though I like to change things up when it comes to menu planning, over the years I have discovered that my family likes all of the traditional dishes. That being said, you know your people, so plan accordingly. 

My people like all of the dishes most of us grew up eating — bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and of course, turkey and gravy. I do usually add a few “untraditional” dishes but ones that still keep to that comfort-food menu.

 Once you have your menu finalized, gather your recipes. I like to have recipes printed or written out. That way, you are not dealing with numerous cookbooks, or trying to navigate a computer screen while cooking. I usually print out recipes I have on my computer, or find them in cookbooks and just write them out on paper. Once that is done, stick the recipes in a file so you can keep everything in one place.

 Now it’s time for a few more lists. Using your organized file of recipes, make a list of ingredients you need to purchase. One should be a perishable list, and another for non-perishable ingredients. You can begin buying non-perishable items right away. Just store them together until you are ready to begin cooking. I like to group everything on our dining room table since that’s out of the way of everyday life, but not crowding my not-so-big pantry.

 Since you already have your menu plan, this is the perfect time to haul out your serving dishes. I like to use small sticky notes to label what dish will go into what serving dish. The best dishes are the ones you can bake in and serve from — that way there is less to clean up and it just simplifies everything.

 While you are taking inventory of your bake ware and serving pieces, this is also a good time to check your plates, utensils, cloth napkins, tablecloths, etc. While you are at it, make sure you have a seating plan. Do you need to figure out a second table or a children’s table? Do you have enough chairs or do you need to purchase or borrow a few?

 Next, grab a calendar and figure out your timeline. What things can be made ahead and frozen? 

If you are cooking a frozen turkey, make a note of when you should take it out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator. If you will be brining your turkey, and I hope you plan on it, make a note to brine your thawed turkey the day before Thanksgiving.

Now you have a plan. Make sure you check out my columns all month for turkey day tips and ideas in my Wednesday columns as well as lots of turkey day recipes in Friday’s food column. Happy turkey month! 

South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at