Although Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, planning now can make the big day less hectic. The Partnership for Food Safety Education suggests the following timeline.
Two weeks ahead: Confirm your guest list and decide on the menu. Select a few recipes that can be safely stored and served at room temperature.
One week ahead: If your menu includes turkey, determine how long the bird will take to thaw. Calculate 24 hours of refrigerator thaw time for each 4½ pounds of frozen turkey, or three and a half days for a 16-pound turkey. Place the frozen turkey, in its original wrapper, in a two-inch deep roasting pan in the refrigerator. A thawed turkey can stay in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Two days ahead: Make and refrigerate desserts with custard-like ingredients. Assemble casseroles that can be stored uncooked in the refrigerator and baked on Thanksgiving.
One day ahead: Make sure the turkey is thawed. Wash, trim and cut vegetables, then wrap them in damp paper towels and place in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator. Finish any remaining baking. Cover and store fruit pies at room temperature.
On Thanksgiving Day: Cook the turkey, gravy, vegetables and mashed potatoes. . . and then enjoy.