natalie’s thanksgiving survival kit

You have just over a week to prep, and you may have your menu planned, you’ve probably counted your dishes and re-counted your silverware… but do you have all the tools you need?

Here’s my list of Thanksgiving necessities… and tips on how to use them all year round (AKA:  How to justify buying them for yourself right before the holidays). :)

1. A roasting pan.

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You don’t need an expensive roasting pan, but I’ve seen my fair share of heartache with people attempting to maneuver those flimsy aluminum pans around.  I love this All Clad roaster – it comes with a roasting rack and turkey lifters and is only about $150 on Amazon.  You can save money by skimping on the brand name, Cuisinart has one around $75, but I love my All Clad so much that I cried the first time I got it dirty.

  • Justification:  You can use this all year long for roasting, braising, casseroles, or lasagna.  You can even use it as a water bath the day before Thanksgiving and make a beautiful cheesecake

2. The right temperature.

 Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your oven is cooking at the proper temperature first.  Just throw an oven thermometer in and check it while you bake throughout the next couple weeks.

  • Justification: This will help you calibrate your oven (did you know you could do that) to improve ALL of your baking. ALL OF IT. ALL THE TIME. 

3.  A reliable thermometer.

I love my Thermapen, but we all know how you can lose valuable oven heat every time you open that darn door.  So, you could get a roasting thermometer instead. Cooking to the proper temperature is the difference between that tender turkey everyone loves or that dry stuff that gets covered in gravy.

  • Justification: Goodbye overdone steaks and dry birds – from now on everything is cooked to the perfect temperature all the time.  (Did you know that you can use it for bread and cakes too? Did you!?)

4.  Since we’re talking about gravy….

A fat separator always comes in handy.  I have a big one and I use it for stocks and sauces too – pretty much anything I make that might have a bit too much fat in it.  Just dump it in here and let it separate some of that gunk out!

  • Justification: No more oil slicks on your soups or fatty stocks.  Use this thing all year round.  Oh, you can also just use it to measure.  That works too… 

5.  Carving the bird (Different than ‘Flipping the Bird’)

You really don’t need an electric carver, I promise.  With this tutorial on how to carve a turkey and an affordable carving set, you’ll be good to go when your time comes.  Just watch a few YouTube videos to get the hang of it and impress your family with a perfectly-carved bird!  I’m almost convinced that I’m hallucinating the $20 price tag on this set, so hurry and pick one up before I wake up and find out it was actually a dream.

  • Justification: It’s a carving set.  And it’s $20.  And it’s full tang J.A. Henkel… CARVE ALL THE THINGS! 

6.  Side dishes 

These make and take casserole dishes from Pyrex are perfect for taking your signature side dish to the family gathering, or just to store your leftovers in. UPDATE:  Oh my gosh and looky this – Shannon‘s suggested Corningware comes with glass AND PLASTIC covers!  For transport!

  • Justification: Work potlucks, family dinners… How many times have you wished you had more between yourself and mess than a tiny sheet of tin foil? These lids SNAP. ON. Portable. Storable. Love. 

7.  Dessert

A fancy dish is a nice touch to class up any dessert, but I’ve personally never been the type to splurge on those fancy things.  I think that a clear Pyrex pie dish is the perfect balance of affordable and practical… that being said, not everyone agrees with me on stuff like this.  If you insist on a pretty pie plate, this one is just as good and way more affordable than some other options

  • Justification: I don’t justify fancy pie plates.  You don’t need one, but you probably do need a regular pie plate, because the disposable ones are too small for regular-yield pie recipes.

8.  Serving dessert

Every year I forget about the pie/cake server.  Don’t be me.  DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PIE/CAKE SERVER!

  • Justification: Mangled pies and cakes make my heart hurt.  Don’t hurt hearts.  Plus birthdays and stuff… you can use a server, I promise.

Now it’s your turn!  What are your Thanksgiving tips and/or your favorite Thanksgiving tools?