Turkey Talk and Thanksgiving Tips

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Thanksgiving Tips And Ideas

Turkey Talk and Thanksgiving Tips

  • This is just a little reminder to take your turkey out to start thawing on Saturday if it is about a 20 pound turkey. I would start thawing any turkey on Sunday at the latest. I like to have my turkey thawed at least a day or two ahead of time so I can get it all prepared, in the pan and ready to just pull out and stick in the oven. I have so many things to do the day before Thanksgiving that this is one less thing to worry about.
  • For all you new or inexperienced cooks be sure to take out the “guts” or giblets as most people call them and the neck, which are usually stuffed inside of the turkey.
  • If you need to dry bread for your stuffing, lay the bread out this weekend so it will get good and dry. Break it up, place it in the bowl you are going to be mixing it in and have that much done ahead of time.
  • This weekend, wash and iron your linens for the table and get your silverware and dishes organized.
  • On Wednesday, do as much as you can so you’re not doing it all at the last minute. Clean the veggies for the relish dish and salads or side dishes. If you are making something like a sweet potato casserole get it all prepared so that all you have to do on Thanksgiving is pop it in the oven.
  • If you don’t want to be mashing potatoes two minutes before you sit down, mash them and place them in a crockpot on low to keep warm. You can keep them in the crockpot beautifully for one hour but no more. Beyond that, they get “yucky” quickly.

Most of all, for you new cooks or those of you cooking your first Thanksgiving dinner, don’t panic. It is really no more difficult than any other regular meal, except that you are probably preparing more of everything. If you are really nervous, do a trial run this weekend. Practice by roasting a chicken and making mashed potatoes, one or two sides and a dessert. It’s just like a mini Thanksgiving.

If something goes wrong (and most of us have had something go wrong once in a while), just laugh about it. Usually, it is the Thanksgiving everyone will remember with fond, happy memories. It will give you something to tell your future daughter in law, granddaughter or daughter about.

I remember being so scared my first Thanksgiving cooking alone. My friend who was older and who was going to be one of my guests told me how on her first Thanksgiving everything was perfect. The table looked great and everyone was laughing, joking and enjoying the food but half way through the meal she noticed something – she had forgotten the turkey.

She had set it on top of the fridge to move it out of the way for a minute and had left it there. Either no one noticed or they were too polite to say anything. Things may happen, but don’t panic – Thanksgiving wasn’t meant to be perfect– just a time of fun, enjoying being with friends and family.


For lots of quick and easy recipes and tips about scratch cooking and frugal living, take a look at our Dining On A Dime Cookbook here!


photo by: allthingschill


  1. rita says

    This is a great and inspirering story. I hope everyone takes the time to read it. We never can evaluate the power of our own actions.

  2. The Wilsons in VA says

    Thanks! This year we moved out to the country, so we’ve been raising our own turkey. Wednesday is “D Day” for the turkey, and we couldn’t be more nervous about it! I’m looking forward to having everything else as simple as possible!! Of course, if things go badly with the bird, we may be eating pizza on Thursday instead, lol.

  3. jill says

    That is too funny. I could see my kids and grandkids with a turkey we had raised. They would either kidnap it and try to hid it in their room until after Thanksgiving or would be throwing their bodies over it to save it.

    Our animals sleep in the house with us sharing an electric blanket. I could see us trying to eat one. HA!HA! Good luck! I’m not sure if I should pray that all goes well on Wed. or that you’ll be eating pizza on Thursday, lol.


  4. Heather says

    That’s a nice story. I remember you posted it or sent it some time ago. Maybe you could repeat it once in a while. It’s a good lesson. Thanks!

  5. lisa says

    my boyfriend stuffs our turkey with with sliced apples/onions/celery and oranges and a stick of butter and tops it with cumin/salt pepper and rosemary and bakes it yams with the skins on. This is the best way I have ever had turkey. NO stuffing or gravy needed. We boil the carcas for soup stock. enjoy

  6. Grizzly Bear MOm says

    Thank for you for the “When a Queen rides by” story. It sounds exactly like something Queen Elizabeth I would do (remember her saying she had the body of a woman, but the heart and stomach of a king?) Sometimes in trying so hard to contribute we forget to be LADIES. What husband wants to come home to the comfort of a simlilar being in his home/kitchen/bed? We need to rember that we are the only ones who will apply the white table cloth, crystal, boo-boo kises, home made cookie, negligee, as appropriate. I remember Christian Writer Elizabeth Elliot describing a female (?Missionary?)pilot who said that the more she was a lady, the more they were gentlemen. By the way, I am a former Senior Counter Intelligence Analyst and present Human Resources Leader.

  7. LC says

    Over the years we have tried NOT to overdo our turkey dinner. I fix a very simple meal of turkey, potatoes, salad (fruit or veg) home made cranberry sauce. I have nixed the stuffing, relish tray, cracker and cheese plates and even cut down on deserts offering pumpkin pie. apple pie and cookies. This way food is not wasted and people can enjoy the meal without overdoing it. Everyone has walked away very happy and satisfied that they enjoyed a great meal without over stuffing themselves and it has saved their waistlines!
    Don’t feel that you have to have every type of food offered for your one meal! Spending so much time cooking and cleaning up after wards is very exhausting! Be simple in your meal planning this way you actually have time to enjoy the meal you worked so hard to cook and the family and friends you’ve cooked it for. Don’t be afraid of asking others to pitch in either. If they offer a dish accept the offer! If they don’t offer a dish suggest one! After all isn’t this what being frugal is all about? Enjoy!

  8. Char says

    One year my dad brought home a turkey. He said it was for dinner. Our turkey lived a long life and died of natural causes!!!

  9. Chris says

    An idea for leftover stuffing –

    By trying this, I found that leftover stuffing tastes good when used in place of breadcryumbs in various recipes.

    I put some in the meatballs that I made to go with slow cooked spaghetti sauce.

  10. Julia says

    I have a tip that’s too late to use for this Thanksgiving, but I save all the ‘bread ends’ (that no one wants to eat) in the freezer to make stuffing. It adds up faster then you can imagine and I can enjoy stuffing (or croutons, bread crumbs) at least 4-5 times a year. Impressive since most people just toss these away.

    • says

      I need to live next to you Julia so I could trade your bread ends. I love them for so much for toast I use to beg for that and most people would look at me like I’m crazy. I don’t like them for sandwiches but oh they make good toast. I always wish a loaf came with more ends. :) But yes for those who don’t like them save them for dressing. Don’t forget your bread crusts, hot dog and hamburger buns, left over pieces of toast (butter and all), any bread scrap toss in your bag in the freezer.

  11. Tracy says

    For older persons or people with little time or means to hold a big turkey dinner Some stores will sell a prepare turkey meal with all the fixings Also on The Racheal Ray Show on ABC She recommends Buying Boneless Turkey meat sliced thickly at your store deli and heat with can gravy at 300 degrees in a pan covers or wrapped in foil for 30 minute to an hour depending on the amount Or you can microvave each serving on what ever it saids for heating up dinners
    1 to 3 minute on high or lower at 3 to 5 minutes
    Also jeanie-O- Turkey brand sells a boneless turkey with gravy which is in a foil box and can be cooked for an hour or so and ready to eat which we have done in the past They sell from 4 to 15 dollars depending where they are sold

  12. Maggie says

    Dad brought home a turkey one year for us to raise for Thanksgiving dinner. Mom was the one elected to kill it for dinner. After we named him (THOMAS) and fed him, we could not bear for mom to cook him for dinner. Dad took him somewhere on Friday (after Thanksgiving) and we had a really good chicken for dinner on Thursday.
    Another note: we used to fix many dishes for Thanksgiving dinner – lots of sides (cranberry sauce, stuffing, watergate salad, ambrosia) trying to have something that each person loved. As the years have passed, our dinner is not much more than a bigger Sunday dinner. We still have our cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes (my son’s recipe is terrific) and stuffing but also homemade green beans and mashed potatoes and the turkey. I also make a small ham so we can have the turkey and ham leftovers for easy dinners later in the week. And one pie. Not pumpkin – chocolate. That’s what we like so that’s what I’m been making for the last 5 or 6 years. I ended up tossing out the dead leftover pumpkin pie but NEVER the chocolate one. Anyway, just want to say that our dinner has evolved into just what works for us. My mother-in -law died in July so the holidays will be sad for us this year and I will miss her enjoying her Thanksgiving dinner. She did love the turkey and fixings.
    To all of you – Happy Thanksgiving and Good Eating.

  13. Pat says

    My sister-in-law says she is killing her turkey on Saturday or Sunday. She said it has to “go thru rig for 2 days & back out so the meat is more tender”. I’m not sure what that means (city girl) but she seems confident.

  14. Cindy says

    I had just made your pecan pie muffin recipe and popped it into the oven. I checked another recipe site (not as good as yours!) and many commenters said there muffins stuck to the pans and that they had to do it over again with flour, oil, Baker’s Joy, whatever. I thought “Great! I need these for a bake sale tomorrow. Just my luck they’ll be stuck in the pan and unusable.” So when I took the pan out of the oven I immediately ran a sharp knife around the sides and popped the muffins out. It worked just fine. I can see, though, that if you left them in the pan to cool they probably would stick. They’re very good. Thanks for the recipe and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • says

      This is a good place to give everyone a heads up that if you bake anything that is sticky, sugary or syrupy to get it out of the pan immediately and before cools. I put a sticky topping on my cinnamon rolls so I have another pan ready to “dump” them on to the minute they come out of the oven.

      Be careful of things like pecan pies and not fill them too full so they spill over the top and on to the edge because you will spend most of the day chiseling and trying to get a piece out.

      Of course when it comes to pecan pie I would find a way to get it out of the pan and into my mouth including sucking on the pan if I have too. Yum! : ) : )

  15. says

    We have Thanksgiving at our church where we feed the homeless. So to get ready I have been cooking turkeys in the crock pot. The turkeys are very moist and since we serve the turkey all ready cook up it does not matter what it looks like. I also bought extra turkeys for my family and I will be cooking them in the crock pot and freezing the meat.

  16. says

    One year I was pulling the turkey out of the oven and it slid out of the pan and onto the oven door… Not quite as dirty as the floor, but nonetheless I BAWLED. My husband came in and helped me get it back in the pan and we ate it anyway…

    • Grandma says

      you would be surprized how many people have done the exact same thing.
      My grandmother during the depression had cooked a huge turkey after killing it and she cooked it to fall off the bone so it was less hassle of cutting it up.
      It fell out of the pan and they had pieces of turkey all over the floor.
      She had the kids pick up the pieces and she arranged them on the plate as usual.
      Then she scrubbed the floor as it was very slippery.
      Nobody but her children knew the disaster and the neighbours and family about 30 of them enjoyed the meal.
      She said that reminded her to scrub the floor while the turkey was cooking from then on.
      It is a fun conversation to ask others what cooking disasters they have had over the years. Makes for many laughs while eating the big celebration meal.
      Red Greens real life wife Morag told on one of their shows how she had invited company and was serving spaghetti. the strainer slipped and all the spaghetti ended up in the sink full of the dirty dishes. She scooped it out rinced it off and served it anyway. She laughs about it now and having admitted it on national TV she figured everyone who ever came for spaghetti dinner was probably right then going yeew.
      disasters happen to everyone. learn to laugh at them or have an alternative plan.
      such is life.

  17. Sheri says

    We had Thanksgiving dinner at one friend’s house one year I will never forget. We brought over our dining room table to her house. We were going to eat at 1:00. Well, the turkey was not ready, not even at 7:00! The hostess started her morning with a shower. I think she started the turkey, then took it out for casseroles. Then the turkey went back in much later. I hope she learned how to stage a turkey dinner that day! The turkey goes In first! Before the shower, before getting dressed, before cooking anything else! My turkey cooks in four hours or less in my roasting pan! Even 20 pounders! Even so, it still goes in first! No one wants to be eating pink turkey…

    We actually had two turkeys that year! I cooked mine before coming over, because we had two different styles and we both wanted leftovers.

  18. dt says

    I will be making my stuffing this year with left over ends and hot dog/hamburger buns as suggested and was thrilled to remember to do it. I love the ideas and comments and am pleased to be implementing this and other recipes, tips provided…Thank You and warm wishes to all this holiday season.

  19. Mary Jane says

    I love the idea of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners being special, but not overwhelming. I took a tip from my neighbour lady, since we both garden. She always makes a point of packaging a few special items from the garden, and saving them especially for these two big events. In Canada, Thanksgiving is the 2nd. Mon. in Oct. The first batch of pickles are usually ready by then. They raise their own poultry and ham, so that is usually on the plate, too. Home grown potatoes are always present. Both of us grow peas, but they get eaten up pretty quickly, so we make a stash just for these two dinners. Special jams, spreads, pickles and fruit butters always show up. Not everyone can do it, but there is something very satisfying about raising or growing all or part of these special meals. Of course, those who have no gardens can, and should pick up special foods just for the holidays, and not feel bad about spending a little bit extra. Not everything has to be made from scratch. I have tried new things in the past and a few have gone over well, but mostly I find that my family likes to have the old stand bys.

    • says

      I think you hit the nail on the head. What is special for our holiday dinners is we usually have things we don’t have the rest of the year. I also spend more for that meal then I do any other time. That is why I started baking my gingerbread men many years ago – so I could earn a little extra just for our Christmas dinner. But for those of you who don’t even have enough to buy the extra things and the special things you can still make your dinner special. Cook the food in a different way, serve it on special dishes and set a table in a festive way. Mix things up a little. If you usually eat in the kitchen eat in your dining room or some place different. Dress up in your best clothes and just have lots of fun.

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