A Morales Thanksgiving: Part 1

One week from tomorrow I'll be hosting our first holiday in our new home AND my first Thanksgiving. 

Every time I think about that, I have to remind myself to take really deep breaths. 

I'm not nervous, and I'm not scared of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but the thought of coordinating that much food overwhelms me. And when I'm overwhelmed, I get really organized, really quick...but more on that in a minute.

I grew up in a GIANT family. I'm 1 of 3 kids, but on my dad' side of the family, I'm 1 of 21 grandchildren. No divorces. No step or half-grandchildren. I literally have 2 sisters and 18 FIRST cousins. Building off of that, there are now more great-grandchildren than grandchildren. Oh, and everyone (except for me and 3 other cousins) lives within about 50 miles of each other. Even though you probably can't fathom having over 75 people over for a holiday meal, I grew up experiencing that, and I loved every moment of it.

A lot (but not all) of the Sansom family at Papa's 80th birthday party a few years ago!

A lot (but not all) of the Sansom family at Papa's 80th birthday party a few years ago!

BUT, if you told me that I had to cook for that many people, or even just host that many people without cooking an ounce of food, I'd probably pass out instantaneously. Thus, I'm starting small. I've got plenty of time in my life to work up to hosting a whole extended family (although I don't know if our house would hold the ENTIRE Sansom Clan...sorry guys)

This year, I'll be cooking a traditional Southern Thanksgiving Dinner for three - Jason, my mother-in-law, and myself. 

Even though there will only be three of us sitting around the table, I want to be sure to hit all the favorites - Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, pies, and a few other sides that have become a tradition over the years. It'll be a lot of food for three people, but once I sat down and began writing out all of the Turkey Day Staples, I realized that I'd just have to make smaller portions without cutting out the favorites.

So here's why I'm writing today - I'm going to walk you through the process of how I'm preparing. Some of you may be Thanksgiving Day Dinner Guru's, and in that case, you're required to blogbacktome (aka, tell me everything you know). Others may have never cooked Thanksgiving Dinner before, and you, like me, will take any and all suggestions. I'm going to walk step-by-step through this process, and for anyone cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time this year, we can do this together!

Here we go.

Step 1: Create a folder.

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When I create a folder, you know things are getting serious. I have a folder for all of the important things in my life. I need a place to just gather things and know that everything is in the same place safely waiting to be used.

Step 2: Create a menu.

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I just wrote out all of my Thanksgiving Day favorites, along with a few staples that I know everyone loves. I also scourered through the Family style Weight Watchers cookbook to help find some lighter options. 

Step 3: Print out all recipes.

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I believe this is 50% off until 11/23 at a WW location near you.

I believe this is 50% off until 11/23 at a WW location near you.

Best part about the Family style cookbook, it has holiday ideas in the back!

Best part about the Family style cookbook, it has holiday ideas in the back!

Whether they're Pinterest recipes, family recipes, or recipes that I just have in my head from helping my mom with Thanksgiving in years past, I wrote them all out or printed them. They go in the folder. 

Step 4: Writing first draft of shopping list.

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I wrote out EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT that was listed on every recipe that I will be using. This was time consuming, but necessary. 

Step 5 (optional): Figure out how to lighten up a few things.

I'm currently back on Weight Watchers, and while I'll definitely splurge on Thanksgiving, I don't want to splurge unnecessarily. The average American consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Turkey Day. I figured that if I could cut that down, even by a third without changing the taste, the whole Morales family would be happy about it. I went through my recipes and crossed out butter and wrote "light butter". For eggs I exchanged egg whites. You get the idea. It definitely helps.

Step 6: Drafts #2 & #3.

Shopping lists draft #2 and #3 are basically one in the same. The second draft I wrote all of the ingredients I would need with the lighter exchanges. But I realized that there are a lot of duplicate items like eggs, butter, flour, sugar, etc. So at the end of draft #2, I tallied up how many of each duplicate item I would need. Draft #3 consisted of "2 dozen eggs" rather than "2 eggs" a few lines later "1 egg". Basically I just condensed it all down so I would know how much quantity of everything to buy ahead of time. In draft #3 I also added in things like "aluminum casserole dish" and things of that nature. 

Step 7: Shop for nonperishables.

I haven't had a chance to do it yet, but I plan on shopping for all nonperishable items on Saturday. Some people like to do one big shopping trip for a big meal like this, but not me. We live within a mile for four really great grocery stores, so forgetting things isn't the issue. I just want to be able to break up the time commitment that it takes to do such a big shopping trip! I also want to break up with cost a little bit.

Like I said before, this is less of a "how-to" and more of an "how should I?" post. I seriously will appreciate any and all suggestions, tips, and thoughts along the way! 

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, coming soon!!! 

Oh, and since Americans consume 3,300 calories more than I'm supposed to on Thanksgiving, Jason and I thought we'd offset the consumption ratio by purchasing this little gem:

Once again, Craiglist saves the day.

Once again, Craiglist saves the day.

YES! I have treadmill in my garage! Dream. Come. True.

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