In Part 1 of Thanksgiving Dinner in Two Hours or Less, I gathered the menu for the great cooking adventure and got a shopping list together for the big event.
I awoke with a start on Sunday morning at 7:45 with one thought in my mind: Turkey. I'd forgotten to pick up a bird on Friday and Saturday, so that big spot I'd cleared out in my fridge where the bird should be thawing? Empty.
On the way to the store, I tried to convince myself that Daylight Savings Time had bought me an extra hour, but I knew that wasn't really true and my only hope would be going with a smaller bird (Rule of Thumb: Allow 24 hours in the fridge for each five pounds of meat.) or finding a fresh turkey. Fresh turkeys aren't frozen, so they don't need the time in the fridge and, in fact, shouldn't be purchased more than a few days ahead of time, according to the bird's packaging.
I braced myself and headed into the local supermarket on what would turn out to be my biggest grocery trip, in weight and monetary values, to date. Despite my lengthy shopping list (I even needed staples, like flour and a roasting pan), I was out of the store in under an hour. Victory! The total cost for my trip? Minus staples (salt, dried herbs, sugar, flour, cornstarch, etc), the total came to $133.52 for the entire menu (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, creamed corn, mac & cheese, green beans, sweet potato casserole, gravy, rolls, apple crisp, and ambrosia), it made about 12 servings, making the meal about $11 per person.
Standing in the grocery store, I realized I should've brought my food dictionary along. There's something about being in the produce aisle that makes you doubt your knowledge of shallots vs scallions vs green onions.
I stuck to the recipe list except for a few items, like subbing in store-bought breadcrumbs for the homemade kind for the mac & cheese. Otherwise, I went by the list exactly, and found myself lugging about 10 tons of groceries up to my tiny apartment kitchen and pantry, where I cleared off a shelf for all "Fastgiving" items, as my friends had dubbed the event.
Shopping done, I rested and got mentally prepared to follow the game plan for the big event. Stay tuned!