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The Ultimate Guide to Timing Your Thanksgiving Feast

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Thanksgiving is a time for sharing memories, laughs and food with friends and family. While the feast provides the perfect opportunity for people to relax and enjoy quality time with loved ones, the days leading up to the holiday can be stressful - especially if you're trying to figure out the logistics of your feast.

How you time your dishes is equally as important as how you select them - don't feel like you have to sacrifice your mother's prized stuffing for the turkey that will occupy your oven all day. If you pace yourself and keep the following tips in mind, you'll no doubt have a flawless feast.

Set a Schedule - and Stick to It!
Prior to welcoming your guests on the big day, you should develop a comprehensive menu complete with the ingredients and appliances you'll need to prepare each one. After you've determined which dishes you'll be cooking and which ones will be provided by guests, it's time to set a schedule. You'll want to save your oven for your turkey on Thanksgiving, but decide which dishes could be prepped and refrigerated in the days leading up to the holiday.

Prep Dishes Before the Big Day
Food Network reported that there are several sides that should always be cooked before the big day, as this process can save time and hassle for time-crunched chefs. Those that remain cold - like cranberry sauce, potato salad and desserts - can be made up to two days before Thanksgiving. The day before, prepare dishes that lend themselves well to reheating, like stuffing, casseroles and vegetables. Be sure to clear out enough space in your fridge, as these dishes can add up quickly.

Marinate Your Meat the Night Before
You already know to thaw out your turkey two days before Thanksgiving, but did you know you can marinate your bird the night before the feast? Allowing your turkey to sit in its spices overnight allows the flavors to infuse and create a juicier bird for the big meal. Plus, marinating the meat before you start the stressful cooking shuffle can save you time in the long run.

The same concept rings true even if you aren't preparing a turkey for your feast. Whether you prefer ham, duck or venison, allow the meat of your choosing to stew in its spices overnight for the best results in the morning. 

Work Around the Oven on Thanksgiving
While your oven will see a lot of action around this holiday, it isn't the only appliance that can be used to prep your dishes. Your slow cooker, for example, is an invaluable resource during this time. Casseroles, breads and even desserts that are conventionally prepared in the oven can be made with your slow cooker. For a simple and scrumptious side, get out your Crock-Pot® Casserole Crock Slow Cooker and prep Crock-Pot Girl™ Jenn Bare's take on green bean casserole. This slow cooker can keep your dish warm while your turkey roasts in the oven and your guests slowly arrive to the dinner. 



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