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Thanksgiving: What you need to know before the big meal

Meijer Healthy Living tips on how to buy, plan time for thawing, make ahead

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(Meijer)

Buying: Cooking for a crowd can be challenging, especially figuring out how big of a turkey to buy that will feed all of your guests! Don't guess; use this guide and remember to factor in extra servings if you'd like to have leftovers.

If you choose to buy a frozen turkey you can do so at any time in advance, as long as you have space in your freezer to store it. If you choose to buy a fresh turkey, purchase it 1 or 2 days before cooking.

Plan time for thawing: There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey. Never defrost a turkey by leaving it out on the counter.

  • Refrigerator: The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. Allow approximately 1 day of thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey (for example, a 25 pound turkey will take 5 days to thaw in the refrigerator).
  • Cold water: To thaw a turkey more quickly, submerge it in cold water while it's in its airtight packaging or a leak-proof bag. Change the water every half hour, and cook the turkey immediately after it thaws. Allow approximately a half hour of thawing time per pound of turkey.
  • Microwave: If you thaw a turkey in the microwave, cook it immediately after it thaws.
  • What can I make ahead?

  • Mashed potatoes, Sweet potato casserole, Green bean casserole (these can easily be reheated in the microwave, toaster or conventional oven)
  • Cranberry relish, salads (add sliced tomatoes just before serving)
  • Appetizers: Sweet potato bruschetta, appetizer relishes, veggie, or cheese trays
  • Soups (these can easily be warmed on the stovetop)
  • Desserts: cakes, pies, cheesecake, topping ingredients (such as spiced nuts), pumpkin mousse
  • Click here to view recipes.

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