With Thanksgiving less than a week away, you should look at lightening up your load next week and get a few things out of the way this weekend.

Here are six things you can accomplish this weekend to save some time and stress next week:

1.  Clean out your refrigerator.  The turkey takes up a lot of space as will all the extra ingredients you’ll buy.  Get rid of those leftovers and only buy the necessities when you visit the grocery store.

2.  Evaluate your pantry situation.  Take inventory of what you have in your fridge, cupboards and drawers, especially when it comes to things like spices.  Be sure to check those expiration dates!!!

3.  Look at what you’ll be cooking things in and dinnerware.  Take inventory of all the pots, pans, plates, glasses, serving platters and flatware you’ll need for Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s recommended to put Post-It notes on items so you don’t accidentally “double book” them.

4.  Hit the grocery store.  You should complete your grocery list for Thanksgiving dinner by Sunday night including the turkey, both fresh & canned ingredients and beverages.

5.  Defrost your turkey.  The USDA recommends one day of thawing in the fridge for every 4 to 5 pounds if you bought it frozen.

If you have a 15lb. turkey you’ll need to start defrosting at LEAST 3 days in advance and if your bird is over 20lb. you should have it defrosting in the fridge by TONIGHT.

6.  Food preparation will help you out immensely.  Look at your menu and check off a few things this weekend.  Dips, spreads and things like that can be made up to a week in advance.

Dry-out bread for stuffing, make homemade pie crusts and things that are served chilled, like cranberry sauce or vinaigrette for salads this weekend to save time and headaches next week.

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