TT: Chop and Prep Veggies ahead of time (Thanksgiving 2008)

Prep ahead

Prep ahead

I don’t know about you, but when I’m making a rather large meal or a meal with many parts, what takes me the longest is chopping all the veggies. Depending on how much I need, most of my cooking time is invested in chopping and prepping.

This can be okay if it’s a lazy Sunday and you’re puttering around the kitchen for some edible therapy. But when you’ve got a deadline because you’re hosting a party and there are some hungry people circling around the kitchen island like great whites, that extra 20 minutes can mean the difference between happy people or cranky hungry people. I’d rather deal with happy people. Myself included! It’s no fun making a meal when you are starving and crabby.

So when I’m taking on a large kitchen task, I try to prep ahead as much as I can. This has become especially helpful in preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The day before, I pre-chop any veggie that I’m going to be using, which tends to mostly be onions, celery, and carrots. Staple turkey dinner stuff.

I print out my menu and have that in front of me as I grab my veggies for chopping. Then I figure out how much of what is going where by asking myself questions.

Do I have onions going in three dishes? Okay, how much will I need for each dish?

I make huge piles of each chopped veggie and then I portion that out into baggies that I label for the dish they are going in. For example, my stuffing has all three, onions, celery, and carrots. I measure out what I need and put them in a baggie labeled “stuffing”. I need onions for the gravy, same process, measure it out and it goes in a baggie labeled “gravy”.

I also always make an “extra” bag filled with everything. Sometimes I end up needing more for the stuffing. Or I want to try something different and add carrots to a dish, by having extras I can just pull out what I need. And if I don’t use them, I have them chopped for later in the week.

I do this the day ahead, but you can do this even sooner and freeze the portions. Then pull them out as you go about making each dish. And this doesn’t just apply for Thanksgiving, anytime you are hosting something, a birthday party, a wine tasting, save time by prepping ahead.

By prechopping my veggies, I save myself a ton of time come Thursday when I start putting things together for the big turkey dinner. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders knowing I don’t have to spend 30-45 minutes just chopping up veggies! This year curb the Thanksgiving stress by prepping ahead!

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