Planning: More Than Just Writing It Down (Aka Talking Turkey) | Giftie Etcetera: Planning: More Than Just Writing It Down (Aka Talking Turkey)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Planning: More Than Just Writing It Down (Aka Talking Turkey)

So many of the paper planner crowd spend hours writing things down every week. I get their Facebook messages, e-mails, and blog comments, discussing and asking questions about the intricacies of planning. What to write down, where to write it, how to organize it...the list goes on and on. The non-planners among us probably think we are freaks. (I'm not denying the title, mind you. I'm just saying that they call us that. :) )

But for all our hours spent planning, many of us do not get to the important part - putting the plan into action. One of my goals with this blog is to change that trend. Plan it, then do it!

Since Thanksgiving (in America) is only a couple of weeks away, I'll show you how to DO what you planned using my Thanksgiving Project (explained here). If you do the stuff in italics, you'll be all set for Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving is not only about cooking. Basically, I'm throwing a party (with guest invites, extra utensils, drinks, ice), plus cooking a dinner. The first step in the plan is a shopping list using the menu.

Since I have a small freezer (don't worry, I'm asking Santa for a deep freeze!), I will buy stuff that does not need to be fresh, like a bag of flour, this week (when I have more time to shop) and the cold stuff next Sunday (when I have a sitter for the kids, but less time). That will also allow me to start defrosting the turkey in the fridge on the day that I bring it home.

I keep a blue plastic folder with family recipes. The reason for a plastic folder is because it always gets splashed with gravy. The folder goes over my stove with my recipe books. Other recipes are on-line in my favorites folder. 

Some of my favorite on-line recipes, like Alton Brown's Food Network turkey recipe, are printed out. I don't hesitate to write my own notes on the recipes.

This is probably my favorite note. The very first time I hosted Thanksgiving, I baked the ham without removing the paper it was wrapped in. That ham was a fail! So I put a reminder on the recipe. If you look closely, one of the first steps is "remove paper." Ha ha! Also, there is cherry juice on this recipe, along with bits of sixteen year old pineapple. The cherry juice gives it character.

I go through each recipe, checking to see which ingredients are already in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

For the ingredients that do not need to be kept cold, like pineapples, I put the ingredients in reusable shopping bags, with the recipe or a sticky note listed the items (if it's an on-line recipe) attached with a binder clip. A binder clip is important because it won't fall off like a paper clip.

All of the Thanksgiving bags go on the floor of the pantry, in a special location, so that I am not hunting for anything on Thanksgiving morning (or the days leading up to Thanksgiving, if I am cooking something in advance).

I make a shopping list for any items that I don't have on hand, including the date when I will shop for each item.

Next, I plan when to cook each item. This schedule, written sixteen years ago when I hosted my first Thanksgiving, was in the blue recipe folder. It gives me a hint of when each item needs to be cooked.

A critical part of the Thanksgiving plan, in addition to the guest list and shopping list, is a list of tasks that can be done in advance (like defrosting the turkey or cooking the cranberry sauce). It is dated, of course. (See the little number in front of each entry on the left.) As I go through my recipes for each item that I plan to cook, I also think about what can be done in advance (chopping veggies, for example) and add that to this list.

I also consider cooking times and add that to the schedule on the right.

Finally, I consider which pot or pan I will cook in, so that I know if I need to buy or borrow something.

All that's left to do is to shop, cook, and clean the house.

I probably won't blog on Thanksgiving Day, but if I do, that is a sure sign that I am stressed. In case of that unlikely scenario, send wine.



yezenia said...

I love it! To me, "doing" Thanksgiving is a big hassle. But it's because I have failed to plan as you do. I still don't think I will do it this year (I may or may not be working) but these tips may entice me to form a game plan for Christmas with the kids (my kids are my niece and two nephews, we do "our" Christmas Dec 23-24). I had been seriously entertaining the thought of going out to dinner instead of stressing in the kitchen all day.
I'll lyk what ends up winning ; )

Wendy Purcell said...

You have some really great tips here... wish I would have known them years ago. Keeping notes on what works and what doesn't would have saved me so much time and stress over the years. I'm not doing the Thanksgiving meal this year, but I will start a holiday journal for Christmas. Thank you! said...

That's pretty much what I do, too.

Had to laugh about the ham covered with paper. My mom brought a ham to my house one year nicely garnished with pineapple, cloves and cherries - on top of the paper!!! We had a good laugh about that one. I was actually kind of glad, though, because I hate that junk she puts on top of the ham.