Prepping food on Thanksgiving can turn any kitchen into a war zone, but can be especially catastrophic if you're doing a Thanksgiving meal for the guests at your November wedding. So if you're looking for a few tips for making your wedding Thanksgiving menu prep less hectic, here's what you need to know.
Lay Down the Law
Counteract Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) with your very own Turkey's Law: anything that can be done the day before, should be done the day before. That doesn't just apply to your nails and hair treatments, it applies to the food as well. While the turkey, the stuffing, and a few vegetables (asparagus being a notable one) should be done the day of, many others can be prepped in advance.
If you're making homemade cranberry sauce, do it two or three days ahead of time to ensure that it solidifies and that the flavors develop and deepen. Rolls can and should be baked (or purchased) ahead of time, with a 10-minute stint in the oven to warm them up right before you serve your guests. Pies generally taste better the day after you make them (or the day after that, if it's a custard-based pie) when the flavors have time to mix well, so put them together early in the week and avoid the very real possibility of getting pie on your face (or your dress, or the wedding photographer) because you were in a hurry on your wedding day.
Don't Prep Alone
It's more than likely that such a specialized wedding feast will require a lot of work on your and your family's parts, rather than a caterer – but you're not the only one who's gonna be eating the meal, so there's no reason you have to be the only one prepping it. Delegate small, easy (but time-consuming) tasks to your kids, family members, or guests that either arrived early in the week or are staying over at your house for the wedding, like peeling potatoes, cutting vegetables, arranging crudité platters, or even setting the table. Bring in all hands on deck – and that can mean recruiting family members from your future spouse's family as well. Remember, everything that you can delegate will help take some stress off of you and leave you with a much calmer and much more successful cooking and wedding experience.
Somehow your kitchen prep always ends up with a thousand different things cooking at the same time, all with different temperatures and bake times needed to make them come out perfectly. Instead of relying on your (probably frazzled) brain, invest in a few (or a few more) timers. Label these timers with the food that they're watching over and the location of the food (stovetop, oven, second oven if you've got one, fridge, microwave, etc.). You may think this is a lot of hassle and that you'll be able to remember just fine, but these timers will save you a lot of trouble when you can't remember if you put the turkey in the oven at 1:45 or 2:45 – and it means that your family doesn't have to come rushing out during the lull after the ring ceremony to ask which timer goes with what food item.