5 Prep Tips for a Thanksgiving Made Easy
I don’t know about you, but it’s always a mad dash to get everything ready for Thanksgiving at my house. We go grocery shopping ahead of time and fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve got everything planned out and under control. We think that we don’t have too many dishes to prepare or that certain ones are super easy to put together. The truth is, it’s not so much the actual time on the stove or in the oven that puts us behind schedule; it’s the prep time. When you have so many dishes to cook and bake, the last thing you want to do is spend valuable time chopping a multitude of vegetables or herbs or making (and rolling) pie dough from scratch. So in an effort to avoid the craziness this Thanksgiving, I’ve compiled a list of easy prep work that I can get done ahead of time.
Chop and Freeze Herbs
One of the most taxing things for me when it comes to prepping is chopping herbs. I find it so taxing to remove the leaves from rosemary and thyme to avoid woody bits of the stems in our food. Then comes the chopping and if you don’t use the herbs quickly enough, the bruising. Do yourself a favor and chop your herbs ahead of time. Make sure to save the stems to use for stock! Simply place them in a reusable freezer bag and throw them in the freezer.
Place the chopped herbs in an ice cube tray, and top them with extra virgin olive oil. Throw them in the freezer and then on Thanksgiving Day, pop them out to use whenever you need them. Speaking of ice cube trays, I much prefer silicone ice cube trays to plastic. Unfortunately, when it comes to freezing olive oil, it’s pretty difficult to remove the cubes from plastic molds. HuBee’s Single Layer Silicone Ice Cube Tray with Lid is a staple in my house as cubes of any kind are incredibly easy to remove, plus, the lid keeps freezer burn at bay, which is a must when it comes to freezing herbs.
Make, Roll Out, and Freeze Pie Dough
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving, so I always make my own homemade pie dough. Unfortunately, making pie dough results in a dirty food processor and it also takes up a good bit of valuable counter space. Plus, oftentimes, you have to let it chill for thirty minutes before rolling it out. But did you know you can freeze pie dough? Save yourself a ton of time by making it in advance. There are a couple of methods you can try. The first includes rolling out the pie dough, placing it on some wax paper and rolling it up into a tube, then placing it in a reusable bag and freezing it. When you’re ready to use it, just thaw it and mold it into your pie dish. Alternatively, you can go ahead and mold the dough into the pie dish you’re planning to use, prebake it, and then freeze it in a reusable freezer bag. Please note that prebaking only applies to pies that have no-bake fillings or pies that don’t have to bake very long or at a very high temperature such as custard filled pies. I highly recommend HuBee’s Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat with Dough Cutter as the nonstick silicone ensures the mat stays in place (and protects the counter) while you’re cutting and rolling out pie dough.
Chop and Freeze Garlic
Chopping garlic is another task I dread in the kitchen. I absolutely love garlic, but peeling, smashing, and chopping garlic is just tedious to me. Make your life so much easier by using HuBee’s SCHNOZ Mini Garlic Chopper. With a few tugs of the ripcord, you’ll have chopped garlic in no time (hello, no stinky fingers!). And did you know you can freeze chopped garlic? Simply add it to your ice cube tray, pop it in the freezer, and use it whenever you need it! And once again, this is where HuBee’s Single Layer Silicone Ice Cube Tray with Lid comes in handy as the lid prevents freezer burn, keeps strong smells (like garlic) contained, and makes removing softer cubes super easy.
Chop and Freeze Veggies
This tip is not only resourceful but sustainable. Save precious time by slicing and dicing vegetables in advance. HuBee’s Paring Knife with Sheath is one of my favorite knives I have in the kitchen, as it’s super sharp and gets the job done! When you’re chopping, make sure to set the vegetable scraps aside to use for stock. Just place them in a reusable freezer safe bag and toss them in the freezer.
Once the veggies are chopped, spread them on a baking tray and freeze them. Once frozen, place them in a freezer safe, reusable bag or a container filled to the very top. Thaw them when ready to use!
Time to pull out those frozen vegetable scraps and herb stems! And if you have any chicken/turkey bones or skin on hand, now is the time to put them to good use. Add everything to a stockpot and cover it with water. I like to add bay leaves and black peppercorns as well; however, I wait to salt the stock until it’s had the chance to reduce to a rich brown color. Let your stock reduce and then strain it. I recommend our FRUITY Rotating Colander as the colander separates from the bowl underneath. Place the bowl underneath the strainer to catch all of that amazing stock. Once the stock is strained, freeze it (without the lids) in storage containers. Once frozen, add the lids, and thaw when ready to use! Stock is great for reconstituting premade mashed potatoes on the stovetop or any other savory dish that needs a little bit of extra moisture.
I hope this list of easy prep tips takes a little weight off of your shoulders and allows you to really soak in a truly wonderful day filled with family, friends, and thanksgiving!