The most anticipated holiday of the year is also one of the messiest and most time-consuming.
With so many dishes to prepare, it’s no wonder that by the end of the day, everyone has had enough.
But just because it’s a big meal doesn’t mean it needs to be overwhelming.
If you’re looking for ways to make Thanksgiving less stressful, here are some tips for making sure you don’t overdo it.
How long do Thanksgiving leftovers last?
It all depends on what you made, but in general, if you refrigerated or froze it, you can expect it to last three to four days.
That means you could have a few days of leftovers after your family eats their fill, which will give you a chance to use them up before they start to go bad.
However, if you cooked the bird from scratch, like we did with our turkey recipe, then you may have more than a week worth of leftovers.
How long do you cook a turkey for?
A 12-pound turkey usually takes about 5 hours to cook, according to HowStuffWorks.
So if you have an 18-pounder, it might take 6 hours or even 6 1/2 hours depending on the size of the bird.
The smaller the turkey, the quicker it cooks (and the smaller the carcass).
You can always check the cooking times listed on the packaging to get an idea of how much time you need to plan ahead for.
What is the best way to reheat leftover turkey?
If you want to serve the turkey again within several hours of serving it, there are only a couple of options.
You can either heat it back up in the microwave or reheat it in the oven.
Both methods work well, but if you’re not planning to eat it right away, the latter method is the better choice.
To reheat a frozen turkey in the oven, wrap it tightly in foil and place it in a 350-degree F oven for about 30 minutes per pound.
For example, if you’re serving 8 pounds of turkey, you would bake it for about 2 hours.
This will keep the meat moist and tender.
If you’re reheating leftover turkey in the microwave, cut off any excess fat and pat dry with paper towels.
Place the turkey breast side down on a plate and cover with a damp cloth.
Microwave on high for 10 seconds, turn over, and continue to microwave in 15-second intervals until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove from the microwave and let sit for at least five minutes before cutting into slices.
What are some creative ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers?
Now that you know how long to cook a turkey, you can use those extra bits of turkey to create new meals.
Here are some ideas:
Make turkey pot pie using leftover mashed potatoes, gravy, and shredded turkey as filling.
Combine leftover turkey with stuffing and cranberries for a delicious turkey sandwich.
Use leftover turkey and stuffing to make a savory quiche.
Cook leftover turkey and stuffing with apples and pecans for a sweet breakfast casserole.
Reheat leftover turkey and dressing in a slow cooker with brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon for a warm dessert.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers dish?
Some people love to save every scrap of food that comes out of the kitchen, while others are content with the basics — turkey, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce.
We fall somewhere in between, so we prefer to make a few things fresh and add other items to make the meal complete.
How long does it take to make a turkey?
We used a frozen turkey for this recipe, but depending on the size of the bird, it could take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours.
It’s best to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or under cold running water.
What is the best stuffing recipe?
Most people agree that a bread stuffing is the best option, but you can also try stuffing your bird with a variety of vegetables such as celery, carrots, green beans, and onions.
You can also stuff it with sausage along with herbs and spices for a unique twist.
What are some easy ways to make Thanksgiving dinner?
One of the easiest ways to get through Thanksgiving dinner without going crazy is to prep everything ahead of time.
When you do that, you won’t feel rushed when it’s time to eat.
Here are some simple steps to help you get organized:
Prepare your sides, including mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and cornbread, the night before.
Set aside the main course, like turkey or ham, for later.
Make the gravy early so you have plenty of time to assemble everything else.
Make sure you have enough plates, cups, and silverware for the entire family.
Wash and set out the tablecloth and napkins.
And remember, if you’re hosting the event, you’ll need to clean up afterward.
What are some tips for avoiding turkey burnout?
No matter how good the food tastes, if you’ve been preparing it for too long, you may feel tired and ready to call it a day.
To avoid burnout, you can plan ahead and pace yourself throughout the process.
For example, you can begin to make the stuffing the night before so you can put it together the next morning.
And you can make the gravy the day before, so you can simmer it all evening and then finish it off in the morning before you head to church.
Another tip is to make sure you have enough space in your fridge for all of the food you’re making.
If you have too many dishes, you run the risk of having food spoil and ruining the whole meal.
How can I make Thanksgiving leftovers last longer?
There are several things you can do once you return home to extend the life of your leftovers.
One of the best things you can do is store your leftovers in the refrigerator, where they’ll stay fresher for longer.
Another great thing you can do is wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer to prevent them from drying out.
Finally, you can freeze your leftovers in individual portions so you can pull them out whenever you need them.
Are there any foods that don’t taste good after being frozen?
Yes, there are certain foods that don’t hold up well to freezing, particularly meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish.
However, you can still enjoy these foods by reheating them in the oven, steaming them, or grilling them.
Just be sure to read the package directions carefully and follow the cooking instructions closely.
Do I have to wash my turkey before freezing it?
In order to freeze your turkey properly, you’ll need to remove the giblets and rinse the cavity with cool water.
Then, pat the turkey dry with paper towels and place it in a ziploc bag.
You can then label it with the date, type of bird, and whether or not it was frozen.
Keep your turkey in the freezer for up to two months.
After that point, you should discard it due to the possibility of bacterial growth.